Gemelli Careri’s Description of Persepolis

Colburn, Henry. 2017. “Gemelli Careri’s Description of Persepolis“. Getty Research Journal 9, 181-190.

 

This article examines the description of Persepolis, one of the capital cities of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (ca. 550–330 BCE), by Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri (1651–1725) in his illustrated travelogue Giro del mondo (1699–1700). Gemelli Careri’s extensive description of the site—some twenty pages of text accompanied by two plates engraved by Andrea Magliar (fl. 1690s)—is compared with the accounts of contemporary travelers and with present-day archaeological knowledge. Gemelli Careri’s visit to and description of Persepolis are now largely forgotten in the modern study of Achaemenid Persia, but they shed light on a transitional moment in the development of a more scientific approach to travel writing about archaeological sites: his work straddles the more imaginative approaches of earlier travel writers and the more scientific approaches of subsequent ones.

In honour of Prof. Humbach’s 95th birthday

Issue three of “Estudios Iranios y Turanios”, edited by A. Cantera and J. Ferrer-Losilla and dedicated to Prof. Helmut Humbach’s 95th birthday, is out now.

Estudios Iranios y Turanios
fәrā amәṣ̌ā spәṇtā gāθā̊ gә̄uruuāin
Homenaje a Helmut Humbach
en su 95o aniversario

Continue reading In honour of Prof. Humbach’s 95th birthday

Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern Context

Waters, Matt. 2017. Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern context (Wisconsin Studies in Classics). University of Wisconsin Press.

The Persica is an extensive history of Assyria and Persia written by the Greek historian Ctesias, who served as a doctor to the Persian king Artaxerxes II around 400 BCE. Written for a Greek readership, the Persica influenced the development of both historiographic and literary traditions in Greece. It also, contends Matt Waters, is an essential but often misunderstood source for the history of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.

Matt Waters is a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550–330 BCE and A Survey of Neo-Elamite History.

Source: UW Press: Ctesias’ Persica and Its Near Eastern Context

Issue 03 – Dabir Journal

Issue 03 of Dabir (Digital Archive of Brief notes & Iran Review)

Issue 03 of Dabir, an open access on-line journal for Iranian Studies, is out now. Dabir is published by the Jordan Center for Persian Studies.

Follow the “read more” link to see the table of content and access to the contents online.

Continue reading Issue 03 – Dabir Journal

Persianism in Antiquity

Strootman, Rolf & Miguel John Versluys (eds.). 2017. Persianism in antiquity (Oriens et Occidens 25). Franz Steiner Verlag.

The socio-political and cultural memory of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire played a very important role in Antiquity and later ages. This book is the first to systematically chart these multiform ideas and associations over time and to define them in relation to one another, as Persianism. Hellenistic kings, Parthian monarchs, Romans and Sasanians: they all made a lot of meaning through the evolving concept of “Persia”, as the twenty-one papers in this rich volume illustrate at length.
Persianism underlies the notion of an East-West dichotomy that still pervades modern political rhetoric. In Antiquity and beyond, however, it also functioned in rather different ways, sometimes even as an alternative to Hellenism.

For the contributions, see the Table of Contents.

Source: Persianism in antiquity | Franz Steiner Verlag

The Large Farāmarznāme

van Zutphen, Marjolijn. 2017. A Story of Conquest and Adventure: The Large Farāmarznāme. Leiden: Brill.

 

The Large Farāmarznāme (Farāmarznāme-ye bozorg), a poem from the Persian epic cycle dated to the late eleventh century, is hereby published for the first time in an English translation, in prose. The story tells how Farāmarz, a son of the famous Shāhnāme hero Rostam, conquers several provinces of India, before setting off on an extensive voyage over sea and land, leading his troops through a number of hazardous situations in various fictional countries. As a true epic hero, he displays his prowess in battle and in single combat against men, demons and various ferocious animals, in addition to experiencing a number of marvelous and romantic adventures.

Marjolijn van Zutphen obtained her PhD in 2011 at Leiden University with a dissertation on the Persian epic cycle, a series of poems that were composed in emulation of Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāme. In a joint cooperation with Abolfazl Khatibi she has produced the first critical edition of Farāmarznāme-ye bozorg.

The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia

Pirngruber, Reinhard. 2017. The economy of late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. Cambridge University Press.

In this book Reinhard Pirngruber provides a full reassessment of the economic structures and market performance in Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. His approach is informed by the theoretical insights of New Institutional Economics and draws heavily on archival cuneiform documents as well as providing the first exhaustive contextualisation of the price data contained in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. Historical information gleaned from the accounts of both Babylonian scholars and Greek authors shows the impact of imperial politics on prices in form of exogenous shocks affecting supply and demand. Attention is also paid to the amount of money in circulation. Moreover, the use of regression analysis in modelling historical events breaks new ground in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and gives new impetus to the use of modern economic theory. The book explains the theoretical and statistical methods used so that it is accessible to the full range of historians.

Source: The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia | Reinhard Pirngruber

The Egypto-Persian king and the presentation of dominion in the Achaemenid era

Wasmuth, Melanie. 2017. Ägypto-persische Herrscher- und Herrschaftspräsentation in der Achämenidenzeit.  Franz Steiner Verlag.

Iconographic and textual treatments are at the centre of Achaemenid studies which identify the Persian Great King as sovereign of Egypt. Melanie Wasmuth declares there are fundamental and  wide-spreading sources in Egypt that one possibly could advantage to investigate Persian rulership over Egypt.
At least for Darius I, considering the sources, one can see, a ruler could play four different roles: as a Persian Great King, as an Egyptian pharaoh, as an Egyptian god and as Egypto-Persian ruler. Notably, the combination of two absolute concept of Persian Great King and Egyptian pharaoh into one notion, Egypto-Persian ruler, sheds the lights on strategies of the presentation of dominion and cross-cultural construction of identity. In Persis, the focus is primarily on the representation of the claim to global power as a Persian Great King. However, an Egypto-Persian kingship is propagated in the Achaemenid empire at least since Xerxes and explicitly in the context of the reintegration of Egypt by Artaxerxes III.

There is also an appendix written by Wouter Henkelman entitled “Egyptians in the Persepolis Archives”, available on his page on academia.edu.

Abstract by Yazdan Safaee, based on the German original.

Latest issue of Iranian Studies

Latest issue of Iranian Studies (Vol 50, No 2) has three papers, related to our website’s interest, as follows:

Ali Bahadori: “Achaemenid Empire, Tribal Confederations of Southwestern Persia and Seven Families

Many tribes lived in southwestern Persia during the Achaemenid period. The region was crucial for the Persian empire in that almost all roads connecting the two capitals of Persepolis and Susa run through it. The policy adopted by the Achaemenids for controlling this tribal region was to establish tribal confederations headed by men loyal to the king such as Madates and Gobryas. The Achaemenid king reinforced these tribal confederations by political marriages. Sisygambis, the mother of Darius III, was presumably an Uxian. This is why she was an ideal person to negotiate with Alexander of Macedon to free the Uxians headed by Madates, also probably an Uxian. Gobryas, the head of the Patischorian tribe, was one of the seven who rebelled against Bardiya/Gaumāta according to the Bisotun inscription and Herodotus. The Persepolis Fortification texts appear to show that the region between modern Bāsht and Ardakān called the Fahliyān region or Shulestān was the territory of this tribe. Irdabama, presumably the daughter of Gobryas born from his marriage with daughter of a local dynast, was married by Darius I in order to maintain Achaemenid control over this tribal region.

Amir Ahmadi: “A Gāthic Rite? A Critique of the Cosmological Interpretation of the Gāthās I

In the last few decades ritual interpretation of the Gāthās has replaced the biblical one as the dominant paradigm. The emphasis on the central role of ritual in the Avesta is well justified. This realization has given rise to the question of the role and meaning of ritual in the Gāthās. Marijan Molé had tried to argue that the Gāthās in fact describe and accompany a rite whose purpose was the preservation/renovation of the cosmic order. Students of the Gāthās working within the new paradigm have taken up Molé’s general frame. They have tried to show that the Gāthās, collectively or individually, is the text of a particular rite that served, among others, to preserve the cosmic order, especially the daily rise of the sun. The article questions the validity of this thesis. Its focus is on the version of the thesis we find in a number of recent publications by Jean Kellens. He tries to show that the first Gāthā (Ahunauuaitī) describes a unitary pre-dawn ritual that comprised a haoma rite and an animal sacrifice, and had cosmological and eschatological pretensions. His textual analyses and arguments are examined in some detail. The article concludes that Kellens’s attempt must be deemed unsuccessful.

D Gershon Lewental: “The Death of Rostam: Literary Representations of Iranian Identity in Early Islam

 

The death of the Persian dynast Rostam b. Farrokh-Hormozd at the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah during the Arab-Islamic conquest of Iran received much attention in both the Islamic conquest literature and the Persian epic tradition canonized in the Shāh-nāmeh. A careful examination of the narratives of early Islamic history teaches us much about the mindset of those living in the first centuries following the momentous events of the seventh century. By removing the layers of literary embellishment and moralistic exegesis, we can understand better the impact of the death of this Sāsānian dynast. In addition, by comparing the narrative traditions, we can uncover valuable testimony regarding the early development of what might later be described as an Islamic Iranian identity.

A New French Translation of the Avesta

Lecoq, Pierre. 2017. Les livres de l’Avesta. Les textes sacrés des zoroastriens.  Cerf.

Mazdaism (the religion of Ahura Mazda) or Zoroastrianism (the religion of Zoroaster) is one of the most ancient beliefs in the East. It was professed among the ancient Iranians and is known to us from the books of the Avesta and the later Middle Persian texts. The religion had considerable influence on Greek philosophers and on the neighbouring religious systems. However, the vicissitudes of history have gradually led these excellent texts to oblivion. From this magnificent past, remain only the modest Zoroastrian communities of Iran and the Parsis of India. However, it is indispensable to maintain this theological system from oblivion. Beyond the monotheism of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, beyond the polytheism of the Greeks, Romans and Hindus, Mazdaism offers an original treatment to the problem of good and evil. Dualism tries to resolve this common problem among theologians and philosophers in an original way. The present translation is preceded by an introduction to Mazdaism. The translation is accompanied by explanatory notes and a detailed index. We hope this book will stimulate historical studies of religion, shedding the light on the most brilliant contribution from Iranians to universal civilization.

Abstract by Yazdan Safaee, based on the French original.

A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies