Dabir Journal – Issue 04

Issue 04 of DABIR (Digital Archive of Brief notes & Iran Review)

Issue 04 of Dabir, an open access on-line journal for Iranian Studies, is out now. Dabir is published by the Jordan Center for Persian Studies.

Continue reading Dabir Journal – Issue 04

Dadabhai Naoroji and Orientalist scholarship on Zoroastrianism

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917)
NPG x128698, Dadabhai Naoroji

Patel, Dinyar. 2017. Our own religion in ancient Persia: Dadabhai Naoroji and Orientalist scholarship on Zoroastrianism. Global Intellectual History. 1–18.

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825–1917) is today best known as an economic thinker and an early leader in the Indian nationalist movement. Between the 1860s and 1890s, however, he was also recognized as a scholar of Zoroastrianism, sharing his ideas on Parsi religious reform and ‘authentic’ Zoroastrian belief and practice. Aside from corresponding with some of the leading European Orientalists of his day, Naoroji authored papers on Parsi religious belief and religious reform that were widely distributed and cited in Europe and North America. Over time, he began to function as an interlocutor between European Orientalists and the Parsis in India, disseminating European scholarship amongst his co-religionists while also facilitating scholars’ patronage of the wealthy Parsi community. Naoroji’s correspondence with the Oxford philologist Lawrence H. Mills, in particular, demonstrates this dynamic at work. These activities point to the oftentimes complex and collaborative relationships that existed between non-Europeans and European Orientalists, illustrating the degree to which European scholars could be dependent on the intellectual, financial, and logistical assistance of their objects of study.
Dinyar Patel is a scholar of Modern Indian history and the Indian nationalist movement at the Department of History, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.

Iranian, Manichaean and Central Asian Studies in Memoriam Sundermann

Herausgegeben von einem Team „Turfanforschung“. 2017. Zur lichten Heimat. Studien zu Manichäismus, Iranistik und Zentralasienkunde im Gedenken an Werner Sundermann (Iranica 25). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Werner Sundermann’s central research subject was the Middle Iranian fragments from Turfan oasis in East Turkistan, today’s Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China. He always placed his texts in a philological, linguistic, or religious-historical context. The findings of these studies have extended far beyond Iranian studies to include the history of Central Asia, Iranian and Indo-European studies and literary history as well as to Turkology and Buddhist studies.
The memorandum contains more than fifty contributions on Minichaean, Iranian and Central Asian Studies, as well as other neighboring fields. Among others, some new text fragments from the Turfan region, Dunhuang and Iran are for the first time edited and presented. Furthermore new studies on the sources of Central Asian origin and the Greek-Roman and Persian cultural areas are introduced and individual phenomena of languages or religions are analyzed.

Continue reading Iranian, Manichaean and Central Asian Studies in Memoriam Sundermann

Displaying Royal Tribute Animals in Ancient Persia and the Near East

Persepolis: The Audience Hall of Darius and Xerxes

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2017. Keeping and Displaying Royal Tribute Animals in Ancient Persia and the Near East. In Thorsten Fögen & Edmund Thomas (eds.), Interactions between Animals and Humans in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.

The Achaemenid dynasty (559-331 B.C.) ruled the biggest empire the ancient world had ever seen. Commanding lands from India to Ethiopia and Libya to Afghanistan, the Great Kings of Persia demanded loyalty and tribute from the conquered peoples who made up their vast realm, and the walls of their ceremonial capital at Persepolis in the heart of Iran abound with images of foreign delegations carrying tribute to their monarch. Amidst the gold, silver, textiles and precious stones brought to the ruler is a rich abundance of exotic wildlife: Asiatic lions, Bactrian camels, zebu, wild asses, and Arabian horses. Textual evidence alerts us to the presence of parrots, peacocks, and wild jungle fowl at the Iranian court as well as the probability that the Achaemenid Persians were familiar with rhinoceroses, tigers, and even okapi. The exotic fauna were living offerings from the four quarters of the empire, breathing symbols of the Great King’s power and his control of his vast dominions. By examining a variety of Near Eastern and Greek sources, this paper explores the rich variety of exotic species imported into Persia to satisfy the monarch’s pleasure and his public image; it explores evidence for royal menageries in the Near East, as well as offering some cross-temporal comparisons with the Chinese Ming Dynasty, in order to question how the ancient Iranians interacted with exotic animals and to question how they were displayed and treated by their human captors and owners.
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is a professor in Ancient History at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University.

The Sarmatians: Some Thoughts on the Historiographical Invention of a West Iranian Migration

Dan, Anca. 2017. “The Sarmatians: Some Thoughts on the Historiographical Invention of a West Iranian Migration“, In Felix Wiedemann, Kerstin P. Hofmann and Hans-Joachim Gehrke (eds.). Vom Wandern der Völker. Migrationserzählungen in den Altertumswissenschaften. 97-134. Berlin: Edition Topoi.

The continuous migration of the Sarmatians from East to West is still considered an historical fact. The fundaments of this theory, however, are tricky: the Iranian tie of all the populations on the northeastern edge of the ancient world is too weak to support the existence of one ancient ethnos; our current image of the Sarmatians is the result of loose readings of texts and archaeological evidence, nourished by nationalistic convictions. This paper de-constructs the currently accepted Sarmatian migrations and proposes a new history of the invention of the Sarmatians, through the critical re-examination of the linguistic and archaeological data as well as of the historiographical theses of the last years.

A Review of Christian Arab sources for the Sasanian Period

Amiri Bavandpour, Sajad. 2017. “A Review of Christian Arab sources for the Sasanian Period“, e-Sasanika 19.

This article in Persian reviews all the important Christian Arab sources for the study of Sasanian history. The author studies each of the Syriac and Arabic texts produced by the Christians from the third to the thirteenth century CE which provide important information on the Sasanian Empire.

Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism

8th cent. Tang dynasty Chinese clay figurine of a Sogdian © Museum of Oriental Art (Turin)

Kiel, Yishai & Prods Oktor Skjærvø. 2017. Apostasy and Repentance in Early Medieval Zoroastrianism. Journal of the American Oriental Society 137(2). 221–243.

The Middle Persian (Pahlavi) literature from the early Islamic centuries frequently deals with practical theological issues faced by the Zoroastrian communities under foreign domination. Here, we present a number of questions regarding a Zoroas- trian’s conversion to Islam and his subsequent repentance and desire to return to Zoroastrianism and answers given by ninth- and tenth-century Zoroastrian priestly authorities. It is shown how the priests cite ancient traditions found in the Pahlavi versions of Avestan texts to justify their answers, and then apply them to the contemporary social reality.

The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes

Nawotka, Krzysztof. 2017. The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes. Leiden: Brill.

The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes of Krzysztof Nawotka is a guide to a third century AD fictional biography of Alexander the Great, the anonymous Historia Alexandri Magni. It is a historical commentary which identifies all names and places in this piece of Greek literature approached as a source for the history of Alexander the Great, from kings, like Nectanebo II of Egypt and Darius III of Persia, to fictional characters. It discusses real and imaginary geography of the Alexander Romance. While dealing with all aspects of Ps.-Callisthenes relevant to Greek history and to Macedonia, its pays particular attention to aspects of ancient history and culture of Babylonia and Egypt and to the multi-layered foundation story of Alexandria.

Krzysztof Nawotka, Ph.D. (1991), The Ohio State University, is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Wrocław, Poland. He has published on Greek history, including The Western Pontic Cities: History and Political Organization (1997), Alexander the Great (2010), Boule and Demos in Miletus and its Pontic Colonies (2014).

The Garden of Pasargadae

Grob, Helge Bert. 2017. Die Gartenlandschaft von Pasargadai und ihre Wasseranlagen Topographischer Befund, Rekonstruktion und achaimenidischer Kontext. (Oriens et Occidens 28). Stuttgart: Franz-Steiner-Verlag.

After defeating the Medes and Lydern in the middle of the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great, layed the foundations for the rise of the Achaemenids to the “world power”. His first large building and garden project is the Pasargadae residence – a world heritage site of the UNESCO. Against this background, the question arises not only about the underlying design, but also about a possible role model for later stablishements.

Helge Bert Grob, for the first time, subjected the available plans as well as travel and research reports to a systematic, critical evaluation of the Pasargadae residence and its garden. Basied on partially unpublished sources, together with the archaeological findings, topographical maps as well as aerial and satellite images, as the basis of this new study, the focus of this volume lies on the water structures – basins, canals and watercourses as well as on the analysis of the development of the garden design in Ancient Iran. By comparison with Susa, Persepolis, Babylon and other important sites, Pasargadae is placed and examined in its achaimenid context.

Administration in the Achaemenid Empire

Jacobs, Bruno, Wouter F. M. Henkelman & Matthew W. Stolper (eds.). 2017. Die Verwaltung im Achämenidenreich – Imperiale Muster und Strukturen. Administration in the Achaemenid Empire – Tracing the Imperial Signature. Akten des 6. Internationalen Kolloquiums zum Thema »Vorderasien im Spannungsfeld klassischer und altorientalischer Überlieferungen« aus Anlass der 80-Jahr-Feier der Entdeckung des Festungsarchivs von Persepolis,. Landgut Castelen bei Basel, 14.-17. Mai 20. (Classica et Orientalia 17). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
In recent decades, a number of local archives and other primary sources for the history of the Achaemenid empire have been made available for the first time, or have received new treatment. Foremost among these are the Persepolis Fortification archive and the correspondence between the satraps of Bactria and Egypt and their respective staffs. Several contributors to this volume try to analyze the events and transactions documented by these sources in terms of bureaucratic and administrative protocols and to interpret them within an empire-wide network. Recurring patterns reveal a system of administrative hierarchies and structures. Among other things, the Achaemenid administration managed supplying official travelers, assuring regular communication between the empire’s core and the provinces, and it used some of the same methods and institutions to manage supply, assignment and logistics of workers sent from the provinces to do labor service in the center of Persia.
Another approach represented in this volume confronts these primary sources with information about Achaemenid imperial administration in classical sources, the primary material serving both as corrective and as analytical tool. Combined, these complementary approaches lead to a similar assessment: the imperial administration was not characterized by rupture and ad hoc responses to crises but rather by continuity and stability, and these long-term factors were important reasons for the unprecedented scope and endurance of this first world empire.

A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies