All posts by Shervin Farridnejad

Iranian Mithra vs. Roman Mithras

Mithra, detail from the investiture-relief of Šābuhr II, Tāq-e Bostān, Kermānšāh, Iran

Lahe, Jaan. 2017. Zu möglichen Verbindungen zwischen römischem Mithras und iranischem Mithra. Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 25(2). 233–262.

From the end of 19th century, when the Roman Mithras cult was first studied, a discussion about the cult’s links to the Mithra cult in the Iranian religion has been on-going. Positions regarding the links between the Mithras cult and the Mithra cult can be divided into three groups: 1 the Roman Mithras cult is identical to the Iranian Mithra cult and thus the Mithras cult is an import from the Iranian cultural space; 2 the Roman Mithras cult is new and developed during the time of the Roman Empire and also integrated certain elements of Iranian religious heritage; 3 radical standpoint that views the Mithras cult as a cult that developed during the era of the new empire, but denies any associations between the Mithras cult and the Iranian Mithra cult, except the name of the god. The author of this article is convinced that both the first and third positions have weak justifications. The author thus demonstrates, by relying on sources from Iranian and Roman culture, that the personality of Mithras in the Roman cult is very strongly associated with the personality of Mithra in Iranian religious heritage, which allows one to draw the conclusion that the Iranian Mithra served as the main prototype for the Roman Mithras.

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.

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 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.

The Mysteries of Mithras: A Different Account

Mastrocinque, Attilio. 2017. The Mysteries of Mithras: A Different Account. (Orientalische Religionen in Der Antike). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.
In this work, Attilio Mastrocinque cautions against an approach to Mithraism based on the belief that this mystic cult resembles Christianity. While both Christian and pagan authors testified that Mithraic elements were indeed borrowed, according to Attilio Mastrocinque this was only done by some gnostic Christians. He counters that Roman Empire ideology and religion provide better clues on how to approach the matter, contending too that Virgil proves to be more important than the Avesta in understanding Mithraic iconography. The meaning of the central scene – the Tauroctony – thus becomes clear when the Roman triumph’s central act of bull sacrifice is thought of as just that, with Mithras playing the role of victor as author of this success. The episodes depicted on many reliefs relate to a prophecy known to Firmicus Maternus and other Christian polemists, and which foretold the coming of a saviour, i.e. the first emperor, when Saturn returns and Apollo-Mithras will rule.
Attilio Mastrocinque Born 1952; 1975 Master; since 2002 Full Professor of Roman History at the University of Verona; 2008–10 president of Cultural Heritage courses at the University of Verona; 2005–15 Director of the Archaeological Mission at Grumentum (Lucania).

The Coinage of the “Iranian” Huns and Western Turks

Alram, Michael. 2016. Das Antlitz des Fremden: die Münzprägung der Hunnen und Westtürken in Zentralasien und Indien. (Schriften des Kunsthistorischen Museums 17). Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

The coinage of the “Iranian” Huns and Western Turks is a unique testimony to the history of Central Asia and Northwest India in late antiquity. It illustrates the self-understanding of the Hunnic and Turkish masters and shows how diverse political, economic and cultural influences affect them. The core zone of their domination ranged from today’s Uzbekistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central India; The chronological framework stretches from the fourth to the 10th century AD.

This book summarizes the latest research regarding the “Iranian” Huns and Western Turks. By the aid of selected archaeological evidence as well as coinage, it gives an exciting insights into the history and culture of an era, which today is once again the focal point of international politics and debate.

Table of Contents:

  • Historischer Überblick
  • Das Reich der Sasaniden in Persien (224–651 n. Chr.)
  • Die Kidariten in Baktrien (um 370–467 n. Chr.)
  • Die Kidariten in Gandhara und Uddiyana (letztes Viertel 4. bis erste Hälfte 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Kidariten in Taxila (letztes Viertel 4. bis Mitte 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Alchan: Von den anonymen Clanchefs zu König Khingila (Ende 4. bis Mitte 5. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Alchan: König Khingila (um 430/440–495 n. Chr.) und die
  • Festigung der hunnischen Macht in Nordwest-Indien
  • Alchan: Die Zeitgenossen des Khingila (um 440–500 n. Chr.)
  • Toramana und Mihirakula – Aufstieg und Fall der Alchan in Indien
    (1. Hälfte 6. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Hephthaliten in Baktrien (um 484–560 n. Chr.)
  • Die Nezak-Könige in Zabulistan und Kabulistan (um 480 bis nach 560 n. Chr.)
  • Zabulistan: Von der Alchan-Nezak-Mischgruppe zu den Türken (Ende 6. bis Mitte 7. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Turk-Schahis in Kabulistan (2. Hälfte 7. bis Mitte 8. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Kabulistan und Baktrien zur Zeit von »Tegin, König des Ostens« (Ende 7. bis erstes Viertel 8. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Rutbils von Zabulistan und der »Kaiser von Rom« (Ende 7. bis zweite Hälfte 8. Jahrhundert n. Chr.)
  • Die Hindu-Schahis in Kabulistan und Gandha

Art, Culture, Literature & Society in Qajar Iran

Art, Culture, Literature & Society in Iran during the Qadjar Era

Second Conference of Iranian Studies organized by the Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Berlin, June 30 – July 2, 2017

Read the detailed conference proframme here.

Conference Programme:

Language and Literature

  • Roxane Haag-Higuchi: “Umkehr und Erwachen: zur Literaturgeschichte der Qadscharenzeit”
  • Karolina Rakowiska: “Das Bild der Frau in der Literatur zur Zeit der Qadscharen Dynastie”
  • Bert G. Fragner: “Das Zeitalter der Qadscharen im Urteil von Historikern und Geschichtsschreibern während der letzten 150 Jahre”
  • Documentary Film: “Die Geschichte des Journalismus im Iran”
  • Eva Orthmann: “Der grenzüberschreitende Einfluss des Persischen”
  • Saiid Firuzabadi: “Joseph von Hammer-Purgstalls Beitrag zur Bekanntmachung der persischen Literatur in der Zeit der Qadscharen-Dynastie”

Art History

  • Shervin Farridnejad: “Judeo-Persian Miniatur Painting and Illustrated Manuscripts from late 17th to early 20th centuries”
  • Negar Habibi: “Landschaftsmalerei während der Q adscharen-Dynastie (von Malereien im europäischen Stil bis zu Kamal-ol-Molk)”
  • Kianusch Mootaghedi: “Analyse der siebenfarbigen Kacheln der Qadscharen-Epoche”
  • Nicoletta Fazio: “Too Modern for the Showcase? How Qajar Art made it in the Museum”
  • Boris von Brauchitsch: “Die Kunst der Fotografie im Vergleich: Analyse zweier Fotoalben vom Golestan-Palast”

Maps and Travelogues

  • Birgitt Hoffmann: “Reiseberichte aus der Qadscharen-Epoche”
  • Christine Nölle-Karimi: “Qajar Envoys in Khiva”

Cities

  • Heinz Gaube: “Kaschan zur Zeit der Qadscharen”
  • Sima Taefi: “Teheran, eine glanzvolle Erinnerung an die Qadscharen-Epoche”

Politic

  • Seyed Ali Moujani: „Die Nation der Schia“ und der „Märtyrerkönig“ – Nāserad-Din Schahs Politik bezüglich der heiligen Stätten in Irak”
  • Oliver Bast : “Die Qadscharen und Europa während des ersten Weltkrieges”
  • Ali Bahramian: “Der Übergang von der Schrift zum Druck in der Zeit der Qadscharen-Dynastie”
  • Ulrich Marzolph: “Lithographie in der Zeit der Qadscharen-Dynastie”

Workshops

  • Thomas Ogger/Sayfollah Shokri: “Iranian Music Instrumenst”
  • Hamid Reza Shureshi: “Calligraphy Workshop”