Problems of Chronology in Gandhāran Art

Rienjang, Wannaporn & Peter Stewart (eds.). 2018. Problems of chronology in Gandhāran art. Oxford: Archaeopress Publishing.

This volume, being the proceedings of the first international workshop of the Gandhāra Connections Project, which took place 23rd-24th March, 2017, at the University of Oxford, is available as an open access eBook and in print.

Since the beginning of Gandhāran studies in the nineteenth century, chronology has been one of the most significant challenges to the understanding of Gandhāran art. Many other ancient societies, including those of Greece and Rome, have left a wealth of textual sources which have put their fundamental chronological frameworks beyond doubt. In the absence of such sources on a similar scale, even the historical eras cited on inscribed Gandhāran works of art have been hard to place. Few sculptures have such inscriptions and the majority lack any record of find-spot or even general provenance. Those known to have been found at particular sites were sometimes moved and reused in antiquity. Consequently, the provisional dates assigned to extant Gandhāran sculptures have sometimes differed by centuries, while the narrative of artistic development remains doubtful and inconsistent.

Building upon the most recent, cross-disciplinary research, debate and excavation, this volume reinforces a new consensus about the chronology of Gandhāra, bringing the history of Gandhāran art into sharper focus than ever. By considering this tradition in its wider context, alongside contemporary Indian art and subsequent developments in Central Asia, the authors also open up fresh questions and problems which a new phase of research will need to address.

Post-Achaemenid Legacy of the Persian Gulf Hinterland

Askari Chaverdi, Alireza . 2017. Post-Achaemenid legacy of the Persian Gulf hinterland: Systematic survey of surface remains from Tomb-e Bot, Fars, Iran. Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia 23(1). 127–150.

The archaeological site of Tomb-e Bot, located in the Mohr County of southern Fars Province, is a major settlement of Arsacid and Sasanid date. The site was selected for detailed investigation from among the 76 sites recorded by the general survey of southern Fars region to provide answers to outstanding questions on ancient Iran, in particular during the period from the Achaemenids to the Sasanids. The survey team systematically collected all visible architectural remains, including capitals with volutes and addorsed animal protomes as well as surface ceramics and attempted to draw and register the whole assemblage of finds. Documenting and analyzing the assemblage revealed that centuries after the Achaemenid demise the Persepolis artistic legacy had run on at the site in religious beliefs and among the local groups, from the Seleucid and Arsacid periods up to the rise of the Sasanids.

The Hellenistic Court

Erskine, Andrew, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones & Shane Wallace (eds.). 2017. The Hellenistic court: Monarchic power and elite society from Alexander to Cleopatra. Classical Press of Wales.

Hellenistic courts were centres of monarchic power, social prestige and high culture in the kingdoms that emerged after the death of Alexander. They were places of refinement, learning and luxury, and also of corruption, rivalry and murder. Surrounded by courtiers of varying loyalty, Hellenistic royal families played roles in a theatre of spectacle and ceremony. Architecture, art, ritual and scholarship were deployed to defend the existence of their dynasties. The present volume, from a team of international experts, examines royal methods and ideologies. It treats the courts of the Ptolemies, Seleucids, Attalids, Antigonids and of lesser dynasties. It also explores the influence, on Greek-speaking courts, of non- Greek culture, of Achaemenid and other Near Eastern royal institutions. It studies the careers of courtesans, concubines and ‘friends’ of royalty, and the intellectual, ceremonial, and artistic world of the Greek monarchies. The work demonstrates the complexity and motivations of Hellenistic royal civilisation, of courts which governed the transmission of Greek culture to the wider Mediterranean world – and to later ages.

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Iranica Antiqua, Volume 52

The table of contents of the latest issue (52) of the journal Iranica Antiqua:

Studies in the Chronology of the Bactrian Documents from Northern Afghanistan

Sims-Williams, Nicholas & Francois de Blois. 2018. Studies in the Chronology of the Bactrian Documents from Northern Afghanistan (Veröffentlichungen zur Iranistik 83). Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. With contributions by Harry Falk and Dieter Weber.

More than 150 documents in Bactrian, the chief administrative language of pre-Islamic Afghanistan, have come to light during the last twenty-five years. These documents include letters, legal contracts, economic documents and a few Buddhist texts; many of them bear dates in the so-called “Bactrian era”, which is also known from a few inscriptions, such as the Tochi valley inscriptions in Pakistan, but whose starting-point is controversial. The Bactrian documents have the potential to transform our knowledge of the history of the region during the 4th to 8th centuries CE, a period for which we have few contemporary records, but before they can be fully exploited as historical sources it is necessary to establish their relative and absolute chronology. The present volume aims to fulfil this need. In Part 1 we consider the dated documents, discussing the nature of the Bactrian calendar and the epoch of the Bactrian era, and concluding with a conspectus in which all the attested dates are converted to Julian dates on the basis of the facts and arguments presented. In Part 2 we turn to the equally important undated documents, systematically weighing up all types of evidence, whether historical, prosopographical, palaeographical, linguistic or orthographic, which may have a bearing on their dating. Part 3 provides a handy check-list of our conclusions, while the Appendices provide additional and supporting material including editions of the Tochi valley inscriptions and of a Pahlavi letter which was purchased together with the Bactrian documents.
This book will be required reading for scholars and students of the pre-Islamic and early Islamic history of Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia. It will also be a useful resource for those interested in the languages, religions and numismatics of the region.

The so-called ‘Thronfolgerprägungen’ of Ardashīr I reconsidered

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2017. The so-called ‘Thronfolgerprägungen’ of Ardashīr I reconsidered. In Maria Caccamo Caltabiano, et al (eds.), XV International Numismatic Congress Taormina 2015 Proceedings, Vol. 1, 627–630, Roma-Messina: Arbor Sapientiae Editore.

Eight Doctoral Fellowships

If you are interested in studying with us at the Institute of Iranian Studies (), Freie Universität Berlin, please consider applying through the below programme. If you are an educator, please share widely and encourage your students to apply:

The Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS) with funding of the Einstein Centre Chronoi “Time and Awareness of Time in Ancient Societies” is offering at Freie Universität Berlin and at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 8 doctoral fellowships for the winter term 2018/19, starting on January 1st, 2019.
Receiving a fellowship is connected with the admission to the Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS) and participation in one of the graduate school’s five doctoral programs. Each program is based on a structured curriculum.

Source: 8 Ausschreibungen – Berliner Antike-Kolleg

From Cyrus to Seleukos: Studies in Achaemenid and Hellenistic History

Briant, Pierre. 2018. From Cyrus to Seleukos: Studies in Achaemenid and Hellenistic history (Ancient Iran Series). UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies.

The present volume is a collection of articles published in English by Professor Pierre Briant of the Collège de France, in various forms over the past three decades. Pierre Briant has been instrumental in the recent revival of Achaemenid history, and the way in which he has achieved this is instructive for the future generations of historians to come. One can state that Briant’s approach to history is very much in the French tradition: it engages with both narration and a thorough historiographical methodology, making his work so distinctively rigorous and compelling at the same time. Another important contribution made by Briant’s work concerns the changing scholarly interpretations of the relations between the Achaemenids and Alexander in the longue durée. Since the major corpus of Pierre Briant’s work was originally composed in French, I thought that it would be beneficial to many English-speaking students, as well as educated readers and experts in the field, to have access to these important essays in a single volume. I have tried to keep articles in their original publication format and style, wherever possible. This volume is a special tribute to an important historian of our time, from which current and future students of Persia will have much to learn.

Continue reading From Cyrus to Seleukos: Studies in Achaemenid and Hellenistic History

Seleucid Research Bibliography, 1870-2017

Strootman, Rolf. 2018. Seleucid Research Bibliography 1870-2017.

A Seal Imprint from Old Nisa and the (Apollonian) Iconography of Mithra

Sinisi, Fabrizio. 2017. A seal imprint from Old Nisa and the (Apollonian) iconography of MithraStudia Iranica 46(1). 9–30.

A seal impression from Old Nisa / Mithradatkart bearing the image of a deity is reexamined. It is suggested that the figure is depicted in the guise of Apollo in order to portray the Zoroastrian god Mithra. Other images of Apollonian derivation are discussed to track the iconographic development of the solar traits of Mithra.

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