Near East Languages and Civilizations, History, and the College
PhD 2009 (history) Princeton University
University of Chicago
The Oriental Institute
1155 E. 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Persian and Islamic history, the Sasanian Empire, late antiquity
—Awarded the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History from the American Philosophical Society for State of Mixture
—Awarded the Ehsan Yarshater Prize from the International Society for Iranian Studies for State of Mixture
—Receives an Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion from the American Academy of Religion for State of Mixture
—Published A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity (California, 2015)
—Named a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in 2013.
A historian of the Iranian world in late antiquity, ca. 200–800 CE, Payne's research focuses primarily on the dynamics of Iranian imperialism, specifically how the Iranian (or Sasanian) Empire successfully integrated socially, culturally, and geographically disparate populations from Arabia to Afghanistan into enduring political networks and institutions.
His recent book, A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity, explores the problem of religious diversity within the empire, showing how Syriac-writing Christians could create a place for themselves in a political culture not of their own making. He is currently at work on the role of Zoroastrian religious institutions and the intersection of ideological and material dimensions in Iranian history.