I was born in Darband, Tehran at 8:15pm on July 2, 1967. My parents had different backgrounds. My father, Iraj, was born in Abadan although the family originated from Bushihr. Those people whose last name contains darya “sea” such as Daryabeygi, Darybandari and others are mainly from Bushihr. My father studied English Literature at the University of Isfahan.
The last name Daryaee was taken because in the nineteenth century it was decided that Iran should have a naval force. The ship that was purchased from Europe needed a captain and my great grandfather, who was a capable seaman and had already gone to Africa and China, was given this honor. Thus, Captain Ibrahim Daryaee sat at the helm of the naval ship “Persepolis” in 1892, and hence the naval history of Iran in the modern period began. My grandfather, Mohammad and his family worked in Abadan for the National Iranian Oil Company (Sherkat Naft), until their move to Tehran in the 1970s.
My mother was born in the same neighborhood as I and went to the Soheil Catholic School. Since the Italians ran the school, the curriculum was in Persian and Italian. Her family originated from Kashan and included some of the most learned clerics of the time, including Mulla Ahmad Naraghi, whose work Ayatollah Khomeini cited and made current in his Vellayat-e Fagih. Mulla Ahmad Naraghi, however, had written this piece in the early eighteenth century at the seminary of Kashan which he had established and is now buried there. During the rule of Fath Ali Shah Qajar Iran was weak and so Mulla Ahmad thought that in such a time a man, a philosopher-king, should head the community until the appearance of Mahdi. Other family members included Mulla Mehdi Naraghi, Shahid Ali Naraghi (both clergy). My mother’s grandfather had moved to Tehran and had bought plots of land in Shermian at the turn of the century.
My great grandfather was called Modeer Ahmad Naraghi, but was known as Agha Bozorg to the family. He was a clergyman, but had forsaken the tradition and became a member of Parliament. My grandfather was a maverick and had been in the military, but then opted out for the fire department and other careers. Some of my fondest memories were when he used to take me on walks from Dezashib, his home, to Sare Pol-e Tajrish where he literally knew everyone and would tell me stories about its history.
I went to Parvaneh Primary School in Abadan and vaguely remember the Shat-al-Arab incident in 1973, as the Iraq soldiers stood on the other side and Iranians on this side waving at them.
When I was in fourth grade my mother took me on my first trip abroad to India, Thailand, Hong Kong and Italy. I also got to visit Spain and England which was a great experience. In the 1976-1977 academic year, I was sent to the United States and enrolled in Harker Academy which was established in 1893 to be a feeder institution to Stanford.
I returned to Iran in the summer and lived through the revolution there in 1978-1979. In 1980 I went back to Harker Academy, then moved to Athens, Greece and attended school there until 1981. I first attended the Campion School, a British Academy and then the American Community Schools of Athens.
I returned to Iran in 1982 and lived there until 1984, then came back to the United States. I did my Ph.D. in History at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1999. I taught at California State University, Fullerton from 1999 as a Professor of History and then at the University of California, Irvine from 2007 to the present.
My interests are varied, but I mainly work on the Sasanian Empire which was the major power in the Near East, rivaling the Roman Empire. The reason I became interested in this ancient dynasty is that Near Eastern, or Middle Eastern, history is covered somewhat strangely in the United States. There is usually the Ancient period which begins with the Sumerians and the first city-states in Mesopotamia and ends with Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Achaemenid Empire. Then, Near Eastern history becomes only relevant when Roman foreign policy is discussed and the Arsacid (247 BCE-224 CE) and the Sasanians (224-651 CE) become a footnote, or part of the chapter, on Roman wars with the East. With the Arab Muslim conquest in the seventh century CE, suddenly the Near East becomes important again.
Thus, there seems to me that there is a lacuna in the historical outlook of historians dealing with the Near East or World history from about 300 BCE to 700 CE. My main aim so far has been to introduce the Sasanian empire as an integral part of Late Antique history and that of World history. Thus, I created a website now at UC Irvine with the help of Haleh Emrani and Khodadad Rezakhani to introduce the documents and material culture relating to Late Antique Near East.
My other interests include (?)Persian texts which are sadly neglected as an important source for Persian cultural tradition in Late Antiquity (see Journal of World History). There are more than one hundred short and long texts that need to be edited or re-edited and translated. Some of the texts that I have edited and translated include the Šahrestānīhā ī Ērānšahr (The Provincial Capitals of Iran) (http://web9.ehost-services.com/hemrani/Shahrestan.pdf ), as well as the earliest text known in the world on Chess and Backgammon [pre-correction proofs], and a text on dinner speech before the king of kings (Sūr ī Saxwan [pre-correction proofs]). Since most Middle Persian texts belong to the Zoroastrian tradition, I also deal with the Zoroastrian intellectual tradition which was at its height from the sixth to the ninth century CE. I have written on Zoroastrian classification of fruits, as well as on Zoroastrian political and religious history.
World History is another favorite topic which I actively teach and work on. Beside my work with the Journal of World History, I have also co-authored a two-volume world history book which is meant to be accessible and affordable to students and other readers.
Other projects include the Nāme-ye Irān-e Bāstān, The International Journal Ancient Iranian Studies for which I am the Editor and, more recently, an electronic Persian language journal dedicated to ancient Persian history entitled the Bulletin of Ancient Iranian History. I am also on the editorial board Journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies.