All posts by Shervin Farridnejad

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.

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».

Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the Early Islamic Period in Iran and Iraq

Malek, Hodge Mehdi. 2019. Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the Early Islamic Period in Iran and Iraq: The Johnson Collection of Arab-Sasanian Coins (Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 55). 2 vols. London: Royal Numismatic Society.

This is the first major work to attempt a comprehensive survey of the Arab-Sasanian silver coinage since Walker’s 1941 Catalogue of the British Museum collection. It includes the latest research on the subject, both historical (chapters 1 to 4) and numismatic (chapter 5 to 15). All the coins (over 1,600), both silver drachms and copperfulus, in the Johnson collection are illustrated on the excellent plates. Where thJohnson collection does not have a specimen of an important coin an example is illustrated from another source, making this a truly important work

The extensive chapters on the persons named on the coins, the mints, and the Pahlavi, Arabic and Sogdian legends, make this an invaluable historical source. Other chapters discuss the copper issues with theirvaried designs, the eras and dates used, metrology, coins struck in the east in Sīstān and further north by the Hephthalites, and counter marks, as well as the designs found on the silver drachms. All Pahlavi and Arabic legends (mints, persons named, religious and other marginal legends, dates) are written out as theyappear on the coins in extensive tables. This makes it possible for a beginner in the series to read thesesometimes difficult legends.

See here the Table of Contents of the two volumes.

Studies on Pre-Islamic Iran and on Historical Linguistics

Lurje, Pavel (Ed.). 2019. Proceedings of the 8th European Conference of Iranian Studies. Held on 14–19 Sep. 2015 at the State Hermitage Museum and Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences, in St Petersburg. Vol. 1: Studies on Pre-Islamic Iran and on Historical Linguistics. St. Petersburg: The State Hermitage Publishers.

The volume incorporates articles presented by the participants of the Eighth European Conference of Iranian Studies (in St Petersburg 14–19 September 2015) which werefocused on Pre-Islamic Iran and on historical linguistics. The collected papers mirrorthe wide scope of Iranian studies of the present day: from business documents of Tumshuqin Xinjiangto those of the Syrian wars of the early Sasanians, from the etymology ofthe place-name Sudakto the pottery assemblages of Sistan of the Achaemenian period.The volume is addressedto Iranologists and specialists in neighbouring fields.

Table of Contents
  • Agustí ALEMANY: “Alans and Sogdians in the Crimea: on nomads, traders and Namengeschichten”
  • Pooriya ALIMORADI: “Zand-i Wahman Yašt: the New Persian version”
  • Pavel BASHARIN: “Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto‑Iranian language contacts with Proto-North Caucasian”
  • Julian BOGDANI and Luca COLLIVA: “Activities of the Italian archaeological mission in Iraqi Kurdistan: a preliminary report”
  • CHING Chao-jung: “The four cardinal directions in Tumshuqese”
  • Emily J. COTTRELL, Micah T. ROSS: “Persian astrology: Dorotheus and Zoroaster, according to the medieval Arabic sources (8th – 11th century)”
  • Iris COLDITZ: “Women without guardianship”
  • Matteo COMPARETI: “The ‘eight divinities’ in Khotanese paintings: local deities or Sogdian importation”
  • Maryam DARA: “The comparison between the subjects and written patterns of Urartian and Old Persian royal inscriptions”
  • Matteo DE CHIARA: “Describing Pashto verbal morphology”
  • Bruno GENITO: “Building no 3 in Dahāne-ye Gholāmān, Eastern Iran (Sistan): an Achaemenid religious puzzle”
  • Sebastian HEINE: “Anmerkungen zur historischen Phonologie und Lexik des Kurdischen (Kurmanji)”
  • Camilla INSOM: “Reshaping sacred landscape: notes on Sufi cult in Sangaw village shrines”
  • Thomas JÜGEL: “The development of the object marker in Middle Persian”
  • Nargis J. KHOJAEVA: “Again to the question of localization of Avestan Airiianəm-Vaējō”
  • Mateusz M. KŁAGISZ: “Middle Persian Yōšt ī Fr(i)yān as Proppʼs folk-tale”
  • Jiulio MARESCA: “The pottery from Dahane-ye Gholaman (Sistan): the state of art”
  • Jafar MEHR KIAN, Vito MESSINA: “The sanctuary and cemetery of Shami: research of the Iranian-Italian joint expedition in Khuzistan at Kal-e Chendar”
  • S. Fatemeh MUSAVI: “Pahlavi and Sanskrit interpretations of Gāϑā 31, an analysis”
  • OGIHARA Hirotoshi: “Tumshuqese imperfect and its related forms”
  • Filip PALUNČIĆ: “Ossetic historical phonology and North-Eastern Iranian anthroponomastics from the North Pontic region 1st – 5th c. CE”
  • Gabriele PUSCHNIGG: “Functional variation in pottery repertoires from the Parthian and Sasanian period”
  • Chiara RIMINUCCI: “Parokṣakámá hi devàh „denn die Götter lieben das Mysteriöse“. Zur Komposition des Bahrām-Yašt”
  • Ehsan SHAVAREBI: “Sasanians, Arsacids, Aramaeans: Ibn al-Kalbī’s account of Ardashīr’s Western campaign”
  • Fahimeh TASALLI BAKHSH: “Speech representation in Yashts; a narratological approach”

The administrative geography of the Sassanian Empire

Rika Gyselen, La géographie administrative de l’empire sassanide: les té́moignages épigraphiques en moyen-perse, Res Orientals, XXV (Bures-sur-Yvette: Groupe pour l’étude de la civilisation du Moyen-Orient, 2019).

Since the publication of the Géographie administrative de l’empire sassanide. Les témoignages sigillographiques in 1989, new administrative and official seals, two coin types and an inscription on silverware have appeared. This book contains all the epigraphic attestations in Middle-Persian on the territorial administration in the Sasanian Empire in the form of a catalogue raisonné with the names of regional kingdoms, provinces, regions and kust, as well as the names of administrations and administrators.

See the Table of Contents.

India in the Persianate age

Eaton, Richard Maxwell. 2019. India in the Persianate age, 1000-1765. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Protected by vast mountains and seas, the Indian subcontinent might seem a nearly complete and self-contained world with its own religions, philosophies, and social systems. And yet this ancient land and its varied societies experienced prolonged and intense interaction with the peoples and cultures of East and Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa, and especially Central Asia and the Iranian plateau.

Richard M. Eaton tells this extraordinary story with relish and originality, as he traces the rise of Persianate culture, a many-faceted transregional world connected by ever-widening networks across much of Asia. Introduced to India in the eleventh century by dynasties based in eastern Afghanistan, this culture would become progressively indigenized in the time of the great Mughals (sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries). Eaton brilliantly elaborates the complex encounter between India’s Sanskrit culture—an equally rich and transregional complex that continued to flourish and grow throughout this period—and Persian culture, which helped shape the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal Empire, and a host of regional states. This long-term process of cultural interaction is profoundly reflected in the languages, literatures, cuisines, attires, religions, styles of rulership and warfare, science, art, music, and architecture—and more—of South Asia.

Festschrift Mehdi Rahbar

Moradi, Yousef (ed.). 2019. Afarin Nameh: Essays on the Archeaology of Iran in Honour of Mehdi Rahbar. Tehran: The Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT).

Table of Contents

  • Antigoni Zournatzi: “Travels in the East with Herodotus and the Persians: Herodotus
  • (4.36.2-45) on the Geography of Asia”
  • Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis: “From Mithradat I (c. 171-138 BCE) to Mithradat II (c. 122/1-91
  • BCE): the Formation of Arsacid Parthian Iconography”
  • D.T. Potts and R.P. Adams: “The Elymaean bratus: A Contribution to the Phytohistory of
  • Arsacid Iran”
  • Vito Messina and Jafar Mehr Kian: “Anthrosol Detection in the Plain of Izeh”
  • Rémy Boucharlat: “Some Remarks on the Monumental Parthian Tombs of Gelālak and Susa”
  • Edward J. Keall: “Power Fluctuations in Parthian Government: Some Case Examples”
  • Bruno Genito: “Hellenistic Impact on the Iranian and Central Asian Cultures: The Historical Contribution and the Archaeological Evidence.”
  • Pierfrancesco Callieri: “A Fountain of Sasanian Age from Ardashir Khwarrah”
  • Behzad Mofidi-Nasrabadi: “The Gravity of New City Formations: Change in Settlement Patterns Caused by the Foundation of Gondishapur and Eyvan-e Karkheh”
  • St John Simpson: “The Land behind Rishahr: Sasanian Funerary Practices on the Bushehr Peninsula”
  • Barbara Kaim: “Playing in the Temple: A Board Game Found at Mele Hairam, Turkmenistan”
  • Eberhard W. Sauer, Hamid Omrani Rekavandi, Jebrael Nokandeh and Davit Naskidashvili: “The Great Walls of the Gorgan Plain Explored via Drone Photography”
  • Jens Kröger: “The Berlin Bottle with Water Birds and Palmette Trees”
  • Carlo G. Cereti: “Once more on the Bandiān Inscriptions”
  • Gabriele Puschnigg: “East and West: Some Remarks on Intersections in the Ceramic Repertoires of Central Asia and Western Iran”
  • Matteo Compareti: ““Persian Textiles” in the Biography of He Chou: Iranian Exotica in Sui-Tang China”
  • Ritvik Balvally, Virag Sontakke, Shantanu Vaidya and Shrikant Ganvir: “Sasanian Contacts with the Vakatakas’ Realm with Special Reference to Nagardhan”
  • Antonio Panaino: “The Ritual Drama of the High Priest Kirdēr”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “Khusrow Parwēz and Alexander the Great: An Episode of imitatio Alexandri by a Sasanian King”
  • Maria Vittoria Fontana: “Do You Not Consider How Allāh … Made the Sun a Burning Lamp?”
  • Jonathan Kemp and John Hughes: “Analysis of Two Mortar Samples from the Ruined Site of a Sasanian Palace and Il-Khānid Caravanserai, Bisotun, Iran”

New Research on Central Asian, Buddhist and Far Eastern Art and Archaeology

Juliano, Annette & Judith Lerner (eds.). 2019. Inner and Central Asian art and archaeology. Vol. 2. New research. Turnhout: Brepols.

This second volume of the series offers a broad range of subject matter from an equally broad range of regions. Michael Shenkar compares a particular type of deity from the Parthian West (Palmyra, Hatra) with the colossal image of a divinity from Akchakhan-kala in ancient Choresmia (part of modern-day Uzbekistan). Careful iconographic analysis of a sealing showing the god Mithra, found at Kafir Qala near Samarkand, allows Fabrizio Sinisi to suggest a Kushan origin for the seal that made the impression. Several contributions on Sogdiana concern its archaeology and early history (Bi Bo on Kangju and Sogdiana); the iconography of one of the major wall painting cycles at Panjikent (Matteo Compareti) as well as the city’s temples and deities worshipped (Markus Mode). By drawing on archaeological, ethnological and historical data, Sören Stark offers an extensive discussion of mountain pastoralism and seasonal occupation in northern Tajikistan, north of the Zerafshan River in what were borderlands for Sogdiana. Rounding out the first part of this volume is Suzanne G. Valentine’s publication of a Bactrian camel clay sculpture, excavated in the Sui-Tang capital of Xi’an, its saddlebags decorated with an unusual motif. The second and last part is guest-edited by John Clarke, convener of a Buddhist conference in 2010. This section contains updated or new papers by some of the participants—Naman P. Ahuja on Buddhist imagery in Bengal; Amy Heller on the impact of Kashmiri art on Guge and Ladakh; Deborah Klimburg-Salter on Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Afghanistan; and Michael Willis on sculpture from Sarnath in the British Museum—along with that of Chiara Bellini on the restoration of the Alchi Sumtsek and the dating of the Ladakhi temple.

Table of Contents
On Central Asian Art and Archaeology
·      Michael SHENKAR – “The Chorasmian Gad: On the “Colossal” Figure from Akchakhan-kala”
·      Fabrizio SINISI – “A Kushan Investiture Scene with Mithra on a Seal Impression from Kafir Qala, Samarkand”
·      BI Bo – “Recent Archaeological Discoveries Regarding Kangju and Sogdiana”
·      Matteo COMPARETI – “Simurgh or Farr? On the Representation of Fantastic Creatures in the Sogdian ‘Rustam Cycle’ at Panjikent”
·      Markus MODE – “In the Heart of the City: On Sogdian Temples and Deities at Panjikent”

On Buddhist Sculpture:
Papers from a Symposium held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, November 8 and 9, 2010, and Papers Inspired by the Symposium
·      John CLARKE (Guest Editor) – “Introduction”
·      Naman P. AHUJA – “Rethinking the History of Buddhist Imagery in Bengal, circa 200 BCE – 700 CE”
·      Michael WILLIS – “Markham Kittoe and Sculpture from Sarnath in the British Museum”
·      Deborah KLIMBURG-SALTER – “Buddhist Pilgrimage to India: Bamiyan, Kapisa
·      -Kabul, and Mes Aynak”
·      Amy HELLER – “Tracing the Impact of Kashmiri Art in Guge and Ladakh, Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries”
·      Chiara BELLINI – “Some Other Pieces of the Puzzle: The Restoration of the Alchi Sumtsek by Tashi Namgyal and Other Considerations on the Dating of the Ladakhi Temple”

On Far Eastern Art and Archaeology
·      Bonnie CHENG – “The Underground Silk Road – Pictorial Affinities in Fifth-century Cave Temples and Tombs”
·      Heather D. CLYDESDALE – “Buried Towers: Artistic Innovation on China’s Frontier”
·      Suzanne G. VALENSTEIN with Annette L. JULIANO and Judith A. LERNER – “Hellenism in Sui-Tang Chang’an: Dionysiac Imagery on Mortuary Camels”
Young-pil KWON – “Note on Border Patterns Dividing the Earthly and Heavenly Realms in Goguryeo Tomb Paintings”

Fire in Zoroastrian and Manichaean Apocalyptic

König, Götz. 2019. The Idea of an Apocalyptic Fire According to the Old and Middle Iranian Sources. In Jochen Althoff, Dominik Berrens & Tanja Pommerening (eds.), Finding, Inheriting or Borrowing? The Construction and Transfer of Knowledge in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, 313–342. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

A reasonable method through which to approach the reconstruction of religious phenomena in Iran would be to view the phenomena involved from this double perspective involving vertical and horizontal relationships. Defining the perennial and the changing elements, kernels and agglomerations, etc., would surely be helpful in this respect. So too would the drawing up of chronologies related to the history of religious ideas in Iran. The idea of an apocalypse – and this idea is, as we shall see, essentially the idea of the end of the world in fire – is a good example upon which to base a historical analysis located in the aforementioned double bipolar field: Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism; Avesta and late antique religious text.

This article as well as the whole volume are open access, available for free download.