Authority and Identity in Medieval Islamic Historiography

Hanaoka, Mimi. 2016. Authority and identity in medieval Islamic historiography: Persian histories from the peripheries. Cambridge University Press.

Intriguing dreams, improbable myths, fanciful genealogies, and suspect etymologies. These were all key elements of the historical texts composed by scholars and bureaucrats on the peripheries of Islamic empires between the tenth and fifteenth centuries. But how are historians to interpret such narratives? And what can these more literary histories tell us about the people who wrote them and the times in which they lived? In this book, Mimi Hanaoka offers an innovative, interdisciplinary method of approaching these sorts of local histories from the Persianate world. By paying attention to the purpose and intention behind a text’s creation, her book highlights the preoccupation with authority to rule and legitimacy within disparate regional, provincial, ethnic, sectarian, ideological and professional communities. By reading these texts in such a way, Hanaoka transforms the literary patterns of these fantastic histories into rich sources of information about identity, rhetoric, authority, legitimacy, and centre-periphery relations.

About the author: Mimi Hanaoka is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Richmond, where she is a scholar of history and religion. Her publications include scholarly journal articles on Persian and Islamic history and historiography. Her work as a social and cultural historian focuses on Iran and the Persianate world from the tenth to fifteenth centuries, concentrating on issues of authority and identity. In the field of global history, she concentrates on interactions between the Middle East and East Asia, focusing on the history of Iran-Japan relations.

Personal names in Parthian epigraphical sources

pnb-schmitt-2016Schmitt, Rüdiger. 2016. Iranisches Personennamenbuch Band 2/Faszikel 5: Personennamen in parthischen epigraphischen Quellen. (Österreichische Akademie Der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse; Iranische Onomastik 15). Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW).
This volume of the Iranisches Personennamenbuch (Lexicon of Iranian personal names) presents a full collection of the personal names attested between 150 BCE and 300 CE in Parthian epigraphical sources, inclusive of patronymics and family names as well as the topographical names derived from personal names. Also non-Parthian and even non-Iranian (Semitic, Latin, etc.) personal names are taken into account, as they are part of the onomastic material attested in an Iranian language. The presentation of the names in principle is the same as in the earlier volumes of the Iranisches Personennamenbuch: First comes a full listing of all references (with the kind of the text and its provenance given in abbreviated form), then a sketchy prosopographical characterisation of the person(s) bearing the name, and finally the section on the morphological and etymological interpretation of the name, in which a cautious judgement is attempted. Here the names attested in the Old Iranian and the other Middle Iranian languages (together with their collateral tradition), now known in much greater numbers than at the time of Ferdinand Justi’s Iranisches Namenbuch (1895), are quoted in a fitting manner. Full indexes make all the names accessible that are quoted by way of comparison.
About the Autor:
Rüdiger Schmitt ist emer. Professor für Vergleichende Indogermanische Sprachwissenschaft und Indoiranistik der Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken.

The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5 in Context

bildschirmfoto-2016-09-27-um-12-08-04
The monastery at Bulayïq, Dafusan’gaicum, Tulufan/Turpan, Xinjiang © Chiara Barbati 2015

Lecture and Book Presentation at Tehran University

The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5 in Context

Department for Iranian Studies at the University of Tehran in cooperation with The Austrian Academy of Science (ÖAW) present:

Lecture : “The Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5 in Context
By: Dr. Chiara Barbati (Institute of Iranistik, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
Date: Wednesday, 5th October, 2016
Place: University of Tehran, Faculty of Literature, Kamal Hall (4th floor)

On the basis of a thorough philological-linguistic study, the book aims primarily at reintegrating the complex whole of the various phenomena that have contributed to creating what in modern scholarship runs under the name of Christian Sogdian Gospel Lectionary E5, a set of manuscript fragments preserved in the Turfan Collection in Berlin. The study applies a precise methodology that puts various disciplinary approaches on the same level in order to relate and interconnect textual, material and historical-cultural aspects. Specific codicological characteristics are considered in correlation with the broader manuscript tradition to which the fragments belong. The discussion of the Gospel lectionary leads to reflections on the transmission, reception and development of a specific body of religious knowledge, namely that of the Church of the East. The exploration of linguistic phenomena takes also into consideration the processes at work in the missionary history of the Church of the East in Central Asia between Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages in the Oasis of Turfan in present-day Xinjiang, China. The book therefore addresses Iranologists as well as students of Eastern Christianity and of manuscript cultures.

Chiara Barbati (PhD 2009) is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Iranian studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).  She specializes in Ancient and Middle Iranian languages. Her main fields of research are Sogdian language and literature with particular regard to the Christian Sogdian texts in relation to its Syriac sources, history of eastern Christianity through primary sources (Syriac) as well as secondary sources (Sogdian, Middle Persian, New Persian), paleography and codicology of pre-Islamic Iranian manuscripts and Iranian dialectology from an historical point of view.

 

Archaeological research at Tappeh Pahlavan

Thomalsky, Judith. 2016. “Archaeological research at Tappeh Pahlavan, North Khorasan Province (Northeastern Iran): Report on the 2014 season“, ANES 53, 59-79.

In the summer of 2014, an Iranian-German team carried out the first systematic excavations at Tappe Pahlavan. The site is located in the Jajarm plain, a corridor between the Alborz Mountains in the north and the vast Dasht-e Khavir in the south. The surface of the site itself is littered with ceramics and the remains of an intensive production of stone beads. All stages of production are represented: from coarsely shaped pieces to finished polished beads. The most recent 14 C datings place the upper settlement horizon in the early sixth millennium BC. The site thus provides the earliest dates for the ceramic Neolithic period in Northeast Iran. The finds display clear ties with the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods in Northeast Iran, and can be correlated with the cultural sphere of Kopet Dagh, located c. 200 km to the east. A large part of the retrieved ceramics can be described as a local Cheshmeh Ali variant. This ware would then be c. 500 years older than the hitherto known sequences, which as a rule begin after the mid-sixth millennium BC. Moreover, Djeitun ceramics, so characteristic for Northeast Iran and southern Turkmenistan and representative of the Late Neolithic in this region, are absent in Pahlavan. Hence, the question arises as to whether an early Chalcolithic must be postulated here, or an early manifestation of a local Cheshmeh Ali horizon.

Islamisation

Peacock, Andrew (ed.). 2017. Islamisation: Comparative perspectives from history. Edinburgh University Press.

This is a forthcoming volume, scheduled to be published in March 2017.

The spread of Islam and the process of Islamisation (meaning both conversion to Islam and the adoption of Muslim culture) is explored in the 25 chapters of this volume. Taking a comparative perspective, both the historical trajectory of Islamisation and the methodological problems in its study are addressed, with coverage moving from Africa to China and from the 7th century to the start of the colonial period in 1800.

Key questions are addressed including what is meant by Islamisation? How far was the spread of Islam as a religion bound up with the spread of Muslim culture? To what extent are Islamisation and conversion parallel processes? How is Islamisation connected to Arabisation? What role do vernacular Muslim languages play in the promotion of Muslim culture?

The broad, comparative perspective allows readers to develop a thorough understanding of the process of Islamisation over 11 centuries of its history.

The editor: A.C.S. Peacock is Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic History at the University of St Andrews, and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge. His previous publications include The Great Seljuk Empire (2015) and Early Seljuq History (2010).

Zoroastrianism: Religious texts, theology, history and culture

moazoroasMoazami, Mahnaz (ed.). 2016. Zoroastrianism: A collection of articles from the Encyclopaedia Iranica  (Encyclopaedia Iranica Extracts – EIE), 2 vols. New York: Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation.
 Zoroastrian theology, cosmology and cosmogony, history of the faith, its rituals and ceremonies, Avestan and Middle Persian texts, festivals such as Nowruz, Mehregan and Sada, and a host of other topics, hitherto dispersed amidst other entries in their alphabetical sequence in the Encyclopædia Iranica, are gathered together here under one cover. The volume enables the readers to chart their way through complex traditions and debates throughout history, and brings into focus the interdependence of these pioneering contributions. As a thought-provoking and authoritative work of reference, it is a testimony to the fine scholarship and remarkable erudition of its contributors, scholars who have been foremost in ensuring that the Encyclopædia Iranica maintains its high reputation for authoritative comprehensiveness and pioneering research.
List of Contents:

Volume 1

  • Religious Concepts and Philosophy
  • Zoroaster and Zoroastrianism
  • The Elements in Zoroastrianism
  • The Divine Beings (Yazatas)
  • Demons, Fiends, and Witches
  • Zoroastrian Literature
  • Sacrifices and Offerings

Volume 2

  • Ablutions and Purification Ceremonies
  • Prayers, Hymns, and Incantations
  • Priestly Titles and Prominent Zoroastrian Priests
  • Legal Aspects of Zoroastrianism
  • Death and the Afterlife
  • Festivals
  • Places of Worship
  • Zoroastrian Heroes and Adversaries
  • Mythical and Historical Locations
  • Parsi Communities

About the Editor:

Mahnaz Moazami is a Visiting Professor at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies of Yeshiva University. Her research focuses on religion in pre-Islamic Iran, and she has published several articles on different aspects of Zoroastrianism.

Cosmopolitanism and empire

Lavan, Myles, Richard Payne & John Weisweiler (eds.). 2016. Cosmopolitanism and empire: Universal rulers, local elites, and cultural integration in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean. Oxford University Press.

The empires of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean invented cosmopolitan politics. In the first millennia BCE and CE, a succession of territorially extensive states incorporated populations of unprecedented cultural diversity. Cosmopolitanism and Empire traces the development of cultural techniques through which empires managed difference in order to establish effective, enduring regimes of domination. It focuses on the relations of imperial elites with culturally distinct local elites, offering a comparative perspective on the varying depth and modalities of elite integration in five empires of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. If cosmopolitanism has normally been studied apart from the imperial context, the essays gathered here show that theories and practices that enabled ruling elites to transcend cultural particularities were indispensable for the establishment and maintenance of trans-regional and trans-cultural political orders. As the first cosmopolitans, imperial elites regarded ruling over culturally disparate populations as their vocation, and their capacity to establish normative frameworks across cultural boundaries played a vital role in the consolidation of their power. Together with an introductory chapter which offers a theory and history of the relationship between empire and cosmopolitanism, the volume includes case studies of Assyrian, Seleukid, Ptolemaic, Roman, and Iranian empires that analyze encounters between ruling classes and their subordinates in the domains of language and literature, religion, and the social imaginary. The contributions combine to illustrate the dilemmas of difference that imperial elites confronted as well as their strategies for resolving the cultural contradictions that their regimes precipitated.

Iranian cosmopolitanism: World religions at the Sasanian court

Payne, Richard. 2016. Iranian cosmopolitanism: World religions at the Sasanian court, in Myles Lavan, Richard Payne & John Weisweiler (eds.), Cosmopolitanism and empire: Universal rulers, local elites, and cultural integration in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean, 209–230. Oxford University Press.

Payne examines how the Iranian empire developed cosmopolitan techniques through which to overcome the religious contradictions of its elite. The imperial elite of Iranians cohered through Zoroastrian institutions that provided its shared self-conception and normative framework, while the local elites they subordinated frequently practiced other religions- notably Christianity whose cosmologies were incompatible with the ruling religion. Imagining their mythical-historical lineage as the source of all human knowledge, however, the Iranians considered themselves capable of integrating-by means of subordination – even potentially contradictory cultures. The late Sasanian court adopted the cosmopolitan practice of the dialectical disputation from the Roman empire to manage difference, showcasing the banal commonalities of all religious and philosophical traditions without jeopardizing the superior position of Zoroastrianism. In acting as the authorities in intra-Christian disputations, the Iranians even became the arbiters for competing Christian claims to doctrinal truths. Iranian cosmopolitanism thus reveals the subordinating mode in action, as Christian sub-elites acknowledged their superiors as the source of their cultural legitimacy and authority as well as of imperial perquisites
and privileges.

Sasanian and Islamic Exports to Japan

Priestman, Seth. 2016. “The Silk Road or the Sea? Sasanian and Islamic Exports to Japan“, Journal of Islamic Archaeology, 3(1).

This article considers the movement of commodities manufactured in southern Iraq during the Sasanian and Early Islamic periods to the furthest eastern extremity of the Old World: to the archipelago of Japan. In particular the focus is on two categories of non-perishable finds that survive within the archaeological record: glass vessels and turquoise blue alkaline glazed ceramic jars. We begin by providing an outline of the definition and dating of what is a commonplace and widely distributed ceramic product within the Middle East and western Indian Ocean area. It is then possible to place these finds within a broader context by reviewing the evidence for the earliest West Asian exports to Japan and what these might tell us about the mechanisms of their transmission and circulation and the role of such imports within an East Asian context. Specifically these include glass vessels dated to the Sasanian period followed some time later by ceramic vessels manufactured at the time of the Abbasid Caliphate. The continued arrival of Islamic glass into this later period is not a subject that will be covered specifically as it does not contribute directly to the main arguments that are developed below. Finally the finds are used to shed light on the broader debate surrounding the development of the Indian Ocean economy and to what extent Japan itself may have been commercially integrated within a wider commodity exchange
network.

Seth Priestman is a research assistant at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on processes of long-term socio-economic change, commodity exchange networks and craft production within the Middle East and the wider Afro-Eurasian area during the Sasanian (Late Antique) and Islamic periods.

Iranian Linguistic Studies in memoriam Xavier Tremblay

Acta Iranica 57Pirart, Eric (ed.). 2016. Études de linguistique iranienne: in memoriam Xavier Tremblay. (Acta Iranica 57). Leuven: Peeters.
The 57th volume of the Acta Iranica is dedicated to the memory of late Xavier Tremblay (* 26. 6. 1971, Lille—15. 11. 2011), in order to celebrate his contribution to Iranian and Indo-European Studies. Even unfinished, the work of Xavier Tremblay plays a fundamental role to our understanding of the origins of the Zoroastrian liturgy.
Table of Contents (PDF):
  • Philippe Swennen: “Xavier Tremblay et la liturgie longue proto indo-iranienne. Présentation
  • Alberto Cantera: On Avestan text criticism (2): the accusative singular of the ū̆- and ṷa- stems in the long liturgy
  • Juan Jose Ferrer Losilla: “Preconsonantal nasals in the Avestan alphabet”
  • Jost Gippert: “Albano-Jranica II: Avestan +āfše”
  • Jean Kellens: “Deux apologues sur le feu rituel
  • Jaime Martinez-Porro: “The orthography of the Avestan diphthongs aē and aō in the munuscripts of the long liturgy”
  • Antonio Panaino: “The World’s Conflagration and the Manichaean “Great Fire” of 1468 years”
  • Éric Pirart: Les cvi de l’Avesta”
  • Nicholas Sims-Wiliams: “Bactria—Balkh: variations on a place-name”

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