All posts by Yazdan Safaee

The end of the Kura-Araxes culture as seen from Nadir Tepesi in Iranian Azerbaijan

Alizadeh, Karim, Sepideh Maziar & Mirrouhollah Mohammadi. 2018. The end of the Kura-Araxes culture as seen from Nadir Tepesi in Iranian Azerbaijan. American Journal of Archaeology 122(3). 463-477.

By the late fourth to early third millennium B.C.E., Kura-Araxes (Early Transcaucasian) material culture spread from the southern Caucasus throughout much of southwest Asia. The Kura-Araxes settlements declined and ultimately disappeared in almost all the regions in southwest Asia around the middle of the third millennium B.C.E. The transition to the “post–Kura-Araxes” time in the southern Caucasus is one of the most tantalizing subjects in the archaeology of the region. Despite current knowledge on the origins and spread of the Kura-Araxes culture, little is known about the end of this cultural horizon. In this field report, we argue that the Kura-Araxes culture in the western Caspian littoral plain ended abruptly and possibly violently. To demonstrate this, we review the current hypotheses about the end of the Kura-Araxes culture and use results from excavations at Nadir Tepesi in Iranian Azerbaijan.

The Iranian expanse

Canepa, Matthew. 2018. The Iranian expanse: Transforming royal identity through architecture, landscape, and the built environment, 550 BCE-642 CE.  Oakland, California: University of California Press.

The Iranian Expanse explores how kings in the ancient Iranian world utilized the built and natural environment–everything from royal cities and paradise gardens, to hunting enclosures and fire temples–to form and contest Iranian cultural memory, royal identity, and sacred cosmologies over a thousand years of history. Although scholars have often noted startling continuities between the traditions of the Achaemenids and the art and architecture of medieval or Early Modern Islam, the tumultuous millennium between Alexander and Islam has routinely been downplayed or omitted. The Iranian Expanse delves into this fascinating period, examining royal culture and identity as something built and shaped by strategic changes to architectonic and urban spaces and the landscape of Western Asia. Canepa shows how the Seleucids, Arsacids, and Sasanians played a transformative role in developing a new Iranian royal culture that deeply influenced not only early Islam, but also the wider Persianate world of the Il-Khans, Safavids, Timurids, and Mughals

Falcons and falconry in pre-modern Persia

Falcon with spread wings. Square tile from Persepolis.

Daryaee, Touraj & Soodabeh Malekzadeh. 2018. Falcons and falconry in pre-modern Persia, in Karl-Heinz Gersmann & Oliver Grimm (eds.), Raptor and human: falconry and bird symbolism throughout the millennia on a global scale, 243-258, Wachholtz Verlag.

Falcons and falconry have been part of the religious and ideological tradition of the Persianate world from remote antiquity to the pre-modern period. The falcon has been important as a symbol of royal ideology and political legitimation. Already from the earliest Zoroastrian hymns, the Avesta, to manuals on falconry in the nineteenth century, the importance of this bird and the sport is detailed. The earliest evidence of falconry in Persia dates back to the Sasanian era (3rd c. CE). In this article, the association of this sport with the nobility in both pre-Islamic and Islamic literature, art, and history is made clear.

Cultural and linguistic relations within the Achaemenid Empire

ÁLVAREZ-PEDROSA, Juan Antonio , Flavia POMPEO & Maria Carmela BENVENUTO (eds.). 2017. Del Indo al Egeo. Relaciones culturales y lingüísticas en el interior del Imperio aqueménida, Madrid: Guillermo Escolar Editor.

This book is a product of the project entitled «Indios y Griegos en la corte de los Aquemenidas. Analisis de un contacto cultural (IGCA) – Indians and Greeks in the Achaemenid Court. A Cross-cultural Analysis (IGAC)», coordinated by Juan Antonio Álvarez-Pedrosa Núñez (referentia FFI2013-41023-P, sponsored as part of the ‘Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación 2013-2016’).

Here is the Spanish abstract:

Los estudios que conforman este volumen abarcan un rango muy variado de contactos culturales y lingüísticos que se produjeron en el interior del Imperio aqueménida. La estructura descentralizada de su administración favoreció todo tipo de contactos. Igualmente lo hizo el reconocimiento por sus gobernantes de su carácter multilingüe, multinacional y multirreligioso y la flexibilidad con la que gobernaron todas estas complejas realidades.

El Imperio aqueménida contaba con núcleos particularmente activos en su vida cultural. Uno estaba constituido por las capitales del Imperio: Susa, Ecbátana, Persépolis, Pasargadas y Babilonia, donde radicaban la lengua propia de la realeza y la aristocracia, el antiguo persa, que coexistía con lenguas como el acadio. En Anatolia, se configura un núcleo cultural importante en las capitales de las satrapías más occidentales, Sardes y Dascilio, con una influencia fuerte de la cultura griega. Parece claro que al Oriente se va creando un núcleo bactro-céntrico, con una importancia especial de la ciudad de Bactra.

También es cierto que el uso del arameo como lengua franca de la administración y el comercio facilitó enormemente el cáracter descentralizado y flexible del gobierno aqueménida y, sin duda, pavimentó el camino para la difusión del griego en el periodo helenístico.

En definitiva, se trata de in mundo cultural de una riqueza y complejidad sin parangón, que puede dar lugar a sucesivos hallazgos científicos que nos permitirán conocerlo más y mejor.

Source: Guillermo Escolar Editor. 

For the table of contents, see here.

The Persian Dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2018. The Persian Dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī (Early 11th/17th Century) and its manuscript in the library of the Oriental faculty of St. Petersburg State University (MS.O 174). Manuscripta Orientalia 24 (1). 61–67.

This article aims to study the manuscript of the Persian dictionary Sorme-ye Soleymānī (“The Kohl of Soleymān”) from the collection of the library of St. Petersburg State University (MS.O 174), which is the only known manuscript containing the full text of dictionary. In other available manuscripts of this dictionary, the prologue and epilogue of the text are missing. The importance of this manuscript is inclusion of the date of the dictionary’s composition as a chronogram in the epilogue. In addition to an analysis of the beginning and ending pages of the text, a critical edition of the prologue and epilogue of this manuscript is provided in the appendices.

Intercalary Months in Achaemenid Elamite Documents

Stolper Matthew W. 2018. Intercalary months in Achaemenid Elamite administrative documents from Persepolis. In C. Jay Crisosotomo, Eduardo A. Escobar, Terri Tanaka, & Niek Veldhuis (eds.), The scaffolding of our thoughts: Essays on Assyriology and the history of science in honor of Francesca Rochberg, 296–316. Leiden: Brill.

Surveys current evidence from the Persepolis Fortification Archive and the Persepolis Treasury Archives on intercalation: terminology, usage, attestations.

 

Greco-Persian Relations 499-490 BC

Stronk, Jan P. 2016/2017. From Sardis to Marathon. Greco-Persian relations 499–490 BC: A review. Part one: Up to and including the fall of EretriaTalanta 48-49, 133-184.

The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, which was commemorated at Athens on 6 Boedromion (and at present celebrated on 12 September), may be regarded as one of the defining moments in the history of the ancient polis of Athens. The battle was the culmination point of developments that started about the middle of the sixth century BC, but really took shape shortly after 500 BC. In this paper, which will be published in two parts, we shall follow various circumstances and actions involving the Achaemenid Empire (briefly described as Persia) and Greek poleis which ultimately led to the Battle of Marathon. As the Persian sources available in order to draw a more comprehensive picture of those occurrences at the end of sixth and the first decade of the fifth centuries BC relating to the Greco-Persian controversies than can be obtained from Herodotus’ account alone.His story remains to this day the main literary source for most People investigating the events in that period. In this first part, we shall discuss the occurrences up to and including the fall of Eretria. In the second part, due to appear in Talanta 51(-52), we next pay attention to the Battle of Marathon and its implications.

Report on Inscribed Fragments Excavated from Drainage System of Southern Courtyard of Tačar

Delshad, Soheil. 2017. Report on inscribed fragments excavated from drainage system of Southern courtyard of Tačar. In Asadi, A. and M. Mansouri (eds.), Excavation reports of the third season of archaeological excavations at Persepolis drainage system, 121–135. Persepolis World Heritage Site.

During the second and third seasons of excavations at Persepolis drainage system (led by A. Asadi and M. Mansouri), three inscribed fragments have been excavated. The exact findspot of those fragments is the water channel at the southern courtyard of Tačara Palace. The first two fragments have been found during the third season of excavations (i.e., 1396: 2017) and the third fragment has been revealed to the excavators in the second season (i.e., 1393: 2014).

In original:
دلشاد، سهیل. 1396. گزارش خرده‌کتیبه های شناسایی شده از آب راه حیاط جنوبی تچر. گزارش فصل سوم کاووشهای باستانشناختی آبراهه‌های تخت جمشید (ا. اسدی-م. منصوری)، پایگاه میراث جهانی تخت جمشید، صفحات 121-135.

Recontextualizing the Initiation Rituals of the Roman Mystery Cult of Mithras

Mazhjoo, Nina. 2018. Ritualized body and ritualized identity: Recontextualizing the initiation rituals of the Roman mystery cult of Mithras. Chronika 8, 57-63.

Being one of the Roman mystery cults, Mithraism was organized around particular initiation rituals, which all new initiates had to pass before entering the Mithraic brotherhood. Relied on Bell’s concept of “redemptive hegemony,” this research examines the aim of Mithraic initiation rituals in relation to cultic hegemony and the redemption promised by the Roman mystery cult of Mithras. This paper argues that how the initiates internalized the cultic concepts and doctrine through ritual performance and acquired a ritualized body and a ritualized identity. Here, I suggest that the Mithraic ritualization was a social process that legitimized the cultic hegemony within the ritualized bodies and sustained the hierarchical power structure and secrecy of the Mithraic brotherhood.

The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity

Nicholson, Oliver (ed.). 2018. The Oxford dictionary of late antiquity. Oxford University Press.

The first comprehensive, multi-disciplinary reference work covering every aspect of history, culture, religion, and life in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Near East (including the Persian Empire and Central Asia) between c. AD 250 to 750, the era now generally known as Late Antiquity. This period saw the re-establishment of the Roman Empire, its conversion to Christianity and its replacement in the West by Germanic kingdoms, the continuing Roman Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Persian Sassanian Empire, and the rise of Islam.

Consisting of more than 1.5 million words, drawing on the latest scholarship, and written by more than 400 contributors, it bridges a significant period of history between those covered by the acclaimed Oxford Classical Dictionary and The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages, and aims to establish itself as the essential reference companion to this period.