Lucan’s Parthians in Nero’s Rome

Nabel, Jake. 2019. Lucan’s Parthians in Nero’s Rome. Classical Philology 114(4). 604–625.

For an epic that recounts the horrors of civil war, Lucan’s poem refers with surprising frequency to an enemy far removed from the realm of Roman power: the eastern kingdom of the Parthians, a vast empire beyond the Euphrates ruled by the Arsacid royal family. No other foreign polity figures so prominently. The Parthians are said to have unleashed the strife between Caesar and Pompey by killing Crassus, the only man capable of suppressing the rivalry between the two commanders (1.98–108). They escape vengeance …

Alexander III, Darius I and the land acquired by spears

Degen, Julian. 2019. Alexander III, Darius I and the Spear-Derived Land (Diode 17, 17, 2). Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History 6(1): 53–95.

This article aims to shed new light on Diodorus’ episode about Alexander’s crossing of the Hellespont by bringing ancient Near Eastern evidence into discussion. I assume that Diodorus’ “report” is a nesting of three different narrative-elements woven to a composition which provides a purposeful view ex post facto on the event in 334 BCE. By showing that Alexander adapted Achaemenid strategies to legitimize his power over the new won empire as well his awareness of older Mesopotamian geographical ideas, this article argues that the Argead ruler exposed himself with predominant concepts of ancient Near Eastern kingship. The argumentation underlines for the most part that Diod. 17, 17, 2 is an intentional episode containing Greek-Macedonian propaganda and Persian elements. Especially the famous scene of Alexander hurling a spear in the coast of Asia Minor and the belief that the Persian empire is a gift of the gods root in Teispid and Achaemenid royal ideology. However, Diodorus’ portrayal of Alexander as the first of the Macedons who landed on the coast is an element of his propaganda used during the early phase of his conquest. Finally, this article aims to bring new insights into the discussion about Alexander being the “last Achaemenid”.

Empires of the sea

Wijk, Roy van. 2019. Contested hegemonies: Thebes, Athens and Persia in the Aegean of the 360s. In Rolf Strootman, Floris van den Eijnde & Roy van Wijk (eds.), Empires of the sea: Maritime power networks in world history (Cultural Interactions in the Mediterranean 4), 81–112. Leiden: Brill.

Empires of the Sea brings together studies of maritime empires from the Bronze Age to the Eighteenth Century. The volume aims to establish maritime empires as a category for the (comparative) study of premodern empires, and from a partly ‘non-western’ perspective. The book includes contributions on Mycenaean sea power, Classical Athens, the ancient Thebans, Ptolemaic Egypt, The Genoese Empire, power networks of the Vikings, the medieval Danish Empire, the Baltic empire of Ancien Régime Sweden, the early modern Indian Ocean, the Melaka Empire, the (non-European aspects of the) Portuguese Empire and Dutch East India Company, and the Pirates of Caribbean.

Source: Empires of the sea | Brill

The Archaeology of Afghanistan

Allchin, Raymond, Warwick Ball & Norman Hammond (eds.). 2019. The archaeology of Afghanistan from earliest times to the Timurid period. Edinburgh University Press.

Afghanistan is at the cultural crossroads of Asia, where the great civilisations of Mesopotamia and Iran, South Asia and Central Asia overlapped and sometimes conflicted. Its landscape embraces environments from the high mountains of the Hindu Kush to the Oxus basin and the great deserts of Sistan; trade routes from China to the Mediterranean, and from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea cross the country. It has seen the development of early agriculture, the spread of Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, the conquests of the Persians and of Alexander of Macedon, the spread of Buddhism and then Islam, and the empires of the Kushans, Ghaznavids, Ghurids and Timurids centred there, with ramifications across southern Asia. All of which has resulted in some of the most important, diverse and spectacular historical remains in Asia.

First published in 1978, this was the first book in English to provide a complete survey of the immensely rich archaeological remains of Afghanistan. The contributors, all acknowledged scholars in their field, have worked in the country, on projects ranging from prehistoric surveys to the study of Islamic architecture. It has now been thoroughly revised and brought up to date to incorporate the latest discoveries and research.

Table of contents

  • Notes on Contributors
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi, Kabul Museum
  • Preface, Norman Hammond
  • Introduction to the first edition, Norman Hammond and Raymond Allchin
  • Introduction to the new edition, Warwick Ball
  • The Geographical Background, Sophia R. Bowlby and Kevin H. White
  • The Palaeolithic, Richard S. Davies
  • The development of the Oxus Civilisation north of the Hindu Kush, Henri-Paul Francfort, Bertille Lyonnet, Cameron Petrie and Jim G. Shaffer
  • The development of a ‘Helmand Civilisation’ south of the Hindu Kush, Jim G. Shaffer and Cameron Petrie
  • The Iron Age, Achaemenid and Hellenistic periods, Warwick Ball, Simon Glenn, Bertille Lyonnet, David W. Mac Dowall and Maurizio Taddei
  • From the Kushans to the Shahis, Warwick Ball, Olivier Bordeaux, David W. Mac Dowall, Nicholas Sims-Williams and Maurizio Taddei
  • From the Rise of Islam to the Mongol Invasion, Warwick Ball and Klaus Fischer
  • From the Mongols to the Mughals, Warwick Ball and Klaus Fischer
  • Conclusion, Raymond Allchin and Norman Hammond
  • Bibliography

Sasanian Elements in Byzantine, Caucasian and Islamic Art and Culture

Asutay-Effenberger, Neslihan & Falko Daim (eds.). 2019. Sasanidische Spuren in der byzantinischen, kaukasischen und islamischen Kunst und Kultur | Sasanian Elements in Byzantine, Caucasian and Islamic Art and Culture. RGZ 15, Bonn: Verlag Schnell & Steiner.

The Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD) spreads over areas of today’s Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Caucasus regions were also under its political influence. Many elements of Sasanian art and culture can be found in neighboring countries and cultures, such as Byzantium or the Christian Caucasus, and continued to live after the Sasanian fall in the Islamic dominions that developed on their former territory. To examine the continuing role and the survival of Sasanian art after the fall of the last Persian Empire, an international conference was held in September 2017 at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum in Mainz. The contributions of scholars from different disciplines are published in this volume.

Art of Sogdian immigrants

Xu, Jin. 2019. The funerary couch of An Jia and the art of Sogdian immigrants in sixth-century China. Burlington Magazine, No. 1399 – Vol 161. 820–829.

Detail of decorative screen of the funerary couch of An Jia, Detail of decorative screen of the funerary couch of An Jia showing the portrait of a couple on the left side panel. © Burlington Magazine

The tomb of An Jia, leader of a Sogdian immigrant community in sixth-century Xi’an, northern China, contained a remarkable stone couch. Its form is Chinese but its decoration imitates gilt silverware imported by Sogdian merchants from Sasanian Persia, reflecting An Jia’s dual cultural identity.

VOL. 20 of Parthica

Volume 20 of the journal “Parthica” (2018) contains several interesting contributions.

Table of contents:

  • F. SINISI, A. BETTS, G. KHOZHANIYAZOV: Royal fires in the ancient Iranian world: the evidence from Akchakhan-Kala, Chorasmia
  • I. BUCCI, A. CELLERINO, M. FARAJI, E. FOIETTA, F. GIUSTO, J. M. KIAN, V. MESSINA, M. ROUHANI RANKHOUI: Preliminary report on the third season of excavation of the Iranian-Italian Joint Expedition in Khuzestan at Kal-e Chendar, Shami (8th campaign, 2015)
  • V. N. PILIPKO: Nisa-Mihrdatkirt: Changing conceptions
  • L. COLLIVA: Sanctuaries and ʻdynastic cultsʼ in the Indo-Iranian world: Arsacid, Indo-Parthian and Kushan evidence
  • A. KHOSROWZADEH, N. N. Z. CHEGINI, S. NAZARI: Description, classification and typology of the excavated Parthian pottery from Qal‘eh-i Yazdigird, Kermanshah province, Iran
  • A.KHOUNANI, Y.MOHAMMADIFAR: Two Parthian period rock reliefs from Iraqi Kurdistan
  • E. FOIETTA, E. MARCATO: A review of the sequence of Hatra rulers and the role of 147 the inscription H416

DPg: Ahuramazdā and the Creation of Water

Delshad, Soheil. 2019. DPg: Ahuramazdā and the creation of water, with a new text edition. Iranian Studies 52(3-4). 575-588.

Among the Achaemenid inscriptions, DPg has been the topic of several studies since the very beginning of cuneiform studies. The photographs prepared by the DARIOSH (Digital Achaemenid Royal Inscription Open Schema Hypertext) project at L’Orientale University of Naples shed light on some ambiguities of this specific inscription and led to the proposal of a new text edition of DPg. The purpose of this article is to follow the whole history of studies on DPg until today and then propose a new reading of the inscription and a discussion of related issues, including its unique creation formula and orthography.

Sasanian Persia and the Tabarestan Archive

Gyselen, Rika (ed.). 2019. Sasanian Persia and the Tabarestan Archive (Res Orientales 27). Bures sur Yvette: Groupe d’Etude de la Civilisation du Moyen-Orient.

  • James Howard-Johnston: «World War in Eurasia at the End of Antiquity»
  • Nils Purwins: «The Noble Ones of Eranshahr: Rank Titles and a Comparison with the Imperium Romanum».

The Tabarestan Archive (8th century)

  • Dieter Weber: «Pahlavi Legal Documents from Tabarestan. Two Claims and a Re-evaluation of Crop Yields: A Philological Study of Tab. 21, 22 and 24»
  • Maria Macuch: «Pahlavi Legal Documents from Tabarestan. Two Claims and a Re-evaluation of Crop Yields: The Juristic Context of Tab. 21, 22 and 24»
  • Rika Gyselen: «Les bulles de l’Archive du Tabarestan: quelques aspects matériels des scellements».

Taxing Achaemenid Arachosia: Evidence from Persepolis

King, Rhyne. 2019. Taxing Achaemenid Arachosia: Evidence from Persepolis. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 78(2): 185-199.

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