All posts by Arash Zeini

Iran and America: A forgotten friendship

Potts, Daniel Thomas. 2018. Iran and America: A forgotten friendship. The Conversation.

As President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against Iran heats up again, it is worth recalling a time when the two countries had a distinctly different relationship.

Empires and exchanges in Eurasian late antiquity

Cosmo, Nicola di & Michael Maas (eds.). 2018. Empires and exchanges in Eurasian late antiquity: Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250-750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Table of Contents is available on the publisher’s website.

Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity offers an integrated picture of Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppes during a formative period of world history. In the half millennium between 250 and 750 CE, settled empires underwent deep structural changes, while various nomadic peoples of the steppes (Huns, Avars, Turks, and others) experienced significant interactions and movements that changed their societies, cultures, and economies. This was a transformational era, a time when Roman, Persian, and Chinese monarchs were mutually aware of court practices, and when Christians and Buddhists criss-crossed the Eurasian lands together with merchants and armies. It was a time of greater circulation of ideas as well as material goods. This volume provides a conceptual frame for locating these developments in the same space and time. Without arguing for uniformity, it illuminates the interconnections and networks that tied countless local cultural expressions to far-reaching inter-regional ones.

Linguistic Paradox and Diglossia

Houben, Jan. 2018. Linguistic paradox and diglossia: The emergence of Sanskrit and Sanskritic language in ancient India. Open Linguistics 4(1). 1–18.

What is it about?

“We know that Middle Indian (Middle Indo-Aryan) makes its appearance in epigraphy prior to Sanskrit: this is the great linguistic paradox of India.” In these words Louis Renou (1956: 84) referred to a problem in Sanskrit studies for which so far no satisfactory solution had been found. I will here propose that the perceived “paradox” derives from the lack of acknowledgement of certain parameters in the linguistic situation of Ancient India which were insufficiently appreciated in Renou’s time, but which are at present open to systematic exploration with the help of by now well established sociolinguistic concepts, notably the concept of “diglossia”. Three issues will here be addressed in the light of references to ancient and classical Indian texts, Sanskrit and Sanskritic. A simple genetic model is indadequate, especially when the ‘linguistic area’ applies also to what can be reconstructed for earlier periods. The so-called Sanskrit “Hybrids” in the first millennium CE, including the Prakrits and Epics, are rather to be regarded as emerging “Ausbau” languages of Indo-Aryan with hardly any significant mutual “Abstand” before they will be succesfully “roofed,” in the second half of the first millennium CE, by “classical” Sanskrit.

Why is it important?

The history of (classical) Sanskrit, of Prakrit, of the so-called “hybrid” Sanskrits, of Vedic poetry and prose, and of the related Avestan and old Persian languages is of central importance for the cultural history of ancient India, ancient Iran and Asia.

Two Job offers at the Ruhr-University of Bochum

The Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of the Ruhr-University of Bochum has advertised two positions for postdoctoral or doctoral research associates related but not restricted to Iranian Studies.

Continue reading Two Job offers at the Ruhr-University of Bochum

Ram horns as sacral royal regalia of Šāpūr II

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2018. Ram horns as sacral royal regalia of Šāpūr II. Istorìâ relìgìj v Ukraïnì: Naukovij šorìčnik 28(1). 17–29.

The work of Ammianus Marcellinus preserved valuable information on ancient Iran. Ammianus describes the arrival of šāhānšāh Šāpūr II (r. 309-379) under the walls of Amida, besieged by the Iranians. He informing that the king of Iran wore specific crown/helmet decorated with the ram’s horn. It seems that the helmet of the Sasanian monarch is associated with the person of Alexander of Macedon. In Iranian tradition the heroic picture of Alexander is based on the so-called Alexander Romance, also the Syriac legend of Alexander of Macedon, was written in the 6th century A.D. or in the first half of the 7th century A.D. The article analyzes the picture of Alexander in Pahlavi literature chronologically closer to the reign of Šāpūr II. The subject of research are also representations of Iranian kings with the ram’s horn. It must be accepted that teh specific decoartion of the helmet of Šāpūr II, described by Ammianus Marcelinus canot be anyhow associated with the person of Alexander but results from Iranian ideology of royal power.

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Arash Zeini

Bīsotūn and the French Enlightenment

Potts, Daniel Thomas. 2018. Bīsotūn and the French enlightenment. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1–32.

This study examines a little-known case of Enlightenment knowledge transmission centred on the rock-cut monument of Darius I at Bīsotūn in western Iran. It discusses a report on the monument published by the cartographer and historian Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville, which originated with the Decalced Carmelite monk Emmanuel de Saint-Albert (born Jean-Claude Ballyet); who transmitted it to Isaac Bellet, a doctor involved in secret negotiations in Constantinople; who in turn sent it to Louis, Duke d’Orléans, in Paris; who passed it on to d’Anville. The collison of scholarly interest, political service and scientific personality offers a fascinating case study of the Enlightenment ‘republic of letters’ in action.

The article is available on academia.edu.

Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients

Kleber, Kristin, Georg Neumann & Susanne Paulus (eds.). 2018. Grenzüberschreitungen. Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des alten Orients. Festschrift für Hans Neumann zum 65. Geburtstag am 9. Mai 2018 (DUBSAR 5). Münster: Zaphon Verlag. Unter Mitarbeit von Christin Möllenbeck.

Vierzig Beiträge in deutscher, englischer und französischer Sprache sind dem Assyriologen Hans Neumann (Universität Münster) gewidmet. Korrespondierend mit den breit gefächerten Forschungen des Jubilars bieten sie einen aktuellen Überblick über Themen der Assyriologie, der Vorderasiatischen Archäologie und der Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients.

With contributions by Bruno Jacobs and Daniel Potts on Achaemenids and Elamites, respectively.

Continue reading Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients

A Proposal for the Identification of the Sasanian commander Mermeróēs

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2017. A new proposal for the identification of the Sasanian commander Mermeróēs of Byzantine sources: Šāpur of Ray from Mehrān. In Mitko Panov (ed.), The Byzantine missionary activity and its legacy in Europe, 93–98. Skopje: Euro-Balkan University.

Šāpur of Ray, known also as Mermeroes in Procopius’ and Agathias’ narratives, was the spāhbed in the battles of Dara (June 530) and Satala (summer 530). In 542 he was dispatched by Xusrō I Anōšīrvān (r. 531–579) against the Byzantine fortress of Dara. In 548 Šāpur of Ray was sent at the head of a large army to relieve the fortress of Petra in Lazica, which was under siege by a combined Byzantine-Lazic force. He died of his illness at Mtskheta in the summer of 555. According to Ṭabarī at the time of Sukhrā’s fall, Šāpur of Ray was supreme Commander of the land (iṣbahbadh al-bilād). If we allow identification of Sukhrā and Siāwoš, the last commander of Iranian army with the title of Artēštārān sālār, then we must state that, after removing Sukhrā, Šāpur of Ray also held a high military rank until the military reforms of Xusrō I Anōšīrvān.

Their Evil Rule Must End!

Agostini, Domenico. 2017. Their evil rule must end! A commentary on the Iranian Bundahišn 33:17–28. In Hagit Amirav, Emmanouela Grypeou and Guy Stroumsa (eds.), Apocalypticism and eschatology in late antiquity: Encounters in the Abrahamic religions, 6th–8th Centuries, 21–41. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.