All posts by Yazdan Safaee

Bridging Times and Spaces

Avetisyan, Pavel & Yervand Grekyan (eds.). 2017. Bridging Times and Spaces. Papers in Ancient Near Eastern, Mediterranean and Armenian Studies Honouring Gregory E. Areshian on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Bridging Times and Spaces is composed of papers written by colleagues of Professor Gregory E. Areshian on the occasion his 65th birthday reflecting the breadth and diversity of his scholarly contributions. The range of presented papers covers topics in Near Eastern, Mediterranean and Armenian archaeology, theory of interpretation in archaeology and art history, interdisciplinary history, historical linguistics, art history, and comparative mythology. The volume opens with an extensive interview given by Gregory Areshian, in which Gregory outlines the pathways of his academic career, archaeological discoveries, different intellectual quests, and the organic connections between research questions that he explored across different social sciences and the humanities, stressing the importance of periodizations in interdisciplinary history as well as his views on holism and interdisciplinary studies.

The table of contents is available here.  Four papers are related directly to Iranian Studies:

  • Touraj Daryaee: A Note on the ‘Great King of Armenia’
  • Michael Herles: Achaemenids and the Southern Caucasus
  • Ernst Stephan Kroll: Fortified Kura Arax Settlements in North-Western Iran
  • David Stronach: Notes on the Representation of the Face of Cyrus the Great


The History of the Argeads

Müllerm Sabine, Timothy Howe, Hugh Bowden & Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2017. The History of the Argeads. New Perspectives. (classica et orientalia 19), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

The Macedonian Argead Empire had an interesting and fascinating history already before its rise under its most famous rulers Philip II and his son Alexander III. Furthermore, the history of their predecessors provides a context for understanding their activities.
This volume, based on a conference on Argead Macedonia in 2015, offers an account of the place of Argead Macedonia in the wider ancient world from the sixth century BC to the second century AD and beyond. Argead Macedonia is explored in the context of its regal, structural, historical, courtly and military traditions. Its alliances and enmities, its political networks and environment are scrutinized – particularly in regard to Persia, but also to Greece. In order to look at Argead Macedonia from a wider angle, going beyond ancient literary topoi and views on Macedonia in isolation, the authors analyze in which ways the Argead monarchy was integrated into the wider Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern world, influenced by it and having an impact upon it. The volume is divided into four sections. Different aspects such as Macedonia’s relationship with Achaemenid Persia, political and military matters, Argead coinage, dynastic profile and reception of the Argeads are examined.

The introduction and the table of contents are available here.

The Dynasty of Šahrwarāz in Egypt and Syria in the early 7th century

Sárközy, Miklós. 2017. “Šahrwarāz dinasztiája Szíriában és Egyiptomban a 7. század elején“, Világtörténet, 7. (39.) évfolyam, 2017. 2. 235-248.

The present paper discusses the foundation of the Syrian–Egyptian kingdom of Šahrwarāz. A well-known military leader of the Sasanian Empire who played a key-role in the Sasanian–Eastern Roman wars in the early decades of the 7th century AD, Šahrwarāz successfully conquered Syria and Egypt by 619 and became the military governor of these provinces. Being of obscure origin of the Northern Caucasus, Šahrwarāz started as a staunch supporter of Khusraw II but gradually distanced from his patron after some military failures and due to his own policy which soon resulted in a semi-independent Syrian-Egyptian kingdom ruled by Šahrwarāz by 626. His secret dealings with Eastern Roman forces in Syria soon led to his rising popularity in the eyes of emperor Heraclius who promised him the throne of Sasanian Iran. Eventually Šahrwarāz succeeded in usurping the Sasanian realm for a short period, therefore the vast resources at his disposal might have contributed to the spectacular downfall of the Sasanians.

Herodotus and the Persian Empire

The latest issue of Phoenix, the journal of the society Ex Oriente Lux, has been just published. Here is R.J. (Bert) van der Spek‘s summary of this special issue, ‘Herodotus en het Perzische Rijk’, Phoenix 63.2 (2017):

Focus is on Near Eastern information that puts Herodotus in a more balanced perspective. Wouter Henkelman presents Egyptological (and other) information on the famous story of Cambyses and the Apis (III 27-9; 33; 64). He shows how early researchers of the Apis burials were deceived by taking Herodotus’ story at face value. It is better not to, rather to consider Herodotus’ agenda of defamation of Cambyses, which Henkelman defines as ‘character assassination’. He places the story in an Egyptian tradition of defamation of foreigners, of ‘Chaosbeschreibung’. Olaf Kaper discusses the excavations in the Dakhlah oasis, which was once a settlement of revolting king Petubastis IV. The mysterious story of an army sent by Cambyses to the Ammonians, that disappeared in the desert (III 25), might well simply reflect an annihilation by that army by Petubastis, followed by a damnatio memoriae by the Persians. CAROLINE WAERZEGGERS discusses the modern prejudices on Xerxes, exemplified by the film ‘300’. Western knowledge and interpretation of Xerxes is based on Herodotus, who has a very biased picture of Xerxes. Herodotus suggests to have visited Babylon, but who is not very reliable. He does not know anything about an important revolt in the second year of Xerxes’ reign, i.e. about the year of birth of Herodotus. Karel van der Toorn discusses ‘the long arm of Artaxerxes II’ by recognizing the Jewish community in Elephantine in Egypt, which caused tensions. In the fifth century, the time of Herodotus, this setting apart of the Jewish community was not yet so much clear, so that for Herodotus the Jews (in Elephantine and in Palestine” simply counted as “Syrians” (all spoke Aramaic).


A gold four-horse model chariot from the Oxus Treasure in the British Museum

Mongiatti, Anudu, Neegel Meeks & John Simpson. 2017. A gold four-horse model chariot from the Oxus Treasure in the British Museum, Bulletin of the National Museum of Tajikistan 2, 105-123.

The Oxus Treasure is one of the greatest collections of Achaemenid-period precious metal to survive. It was bequeathed to the British Museum by A. W. Franks in 1897 and been on almost continuous display at the Briti sh Museum since 1900/1901. It was catalogued by Dalton and the first edition published in 1905, and the collection contjnues to attract scholarly attention as well as public interest. In recent years a number of scientific analyses have been carried out on areas of this collection in order to better understand the composition and details of working on particular classes or individual objects. This paper outlines the results of the first scientific study of the outstanding gold model of a four-horse chariot, complete with its driver and passenger. Microscopic examination, X-radiography and scanning electron microscopy combined with energy dispersive X-ray analysis have revealed undocumented evidence for the skill of the Persian goldsmith in creating an intricate artefact produced using a variety of techniques, such as repoussé and chasing on gold sheets, granulation, wire twisting and hammering.

The second issue of Iran 55

The second issue of  Iran 55 (2017) has been published:

Lions in Ancient Iran

Curtis, John. 2017. “Lions in Ancient Iran“, in Parviz Tanavoli and the Lions of Iran, 158-224, Tehran: Nazar Art Publication.

This is a survey of lions in Iranian art from c. 3000 BC to the end of the Sasanian period (7th century AD). It appeared in a catalogue to accompany the exhibition ‘Parviz Tanavoli and the Lions of Iran’ that opened at Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran on 2nd July 2017.

The Sarmatians: Some Thoughts on the Historiographical Invention of a West Iranian Migration

Dan, Anca. 2017. “The Sarmatians: Some Thoughts on the Historiographical Invention of a West Iranian Migration“, In Felix Wiedemann, Kerstin P. Hofmann and Hans-Joachim Gehrke (eds.). Vom Wandern der Völker. Migrationserzählungen in den Altertumswissenschaften. 97-134. Berlin: Edition Topoi.

The continuous migration of the Sarmatians from East to West is still considered an historical fact. The fundaments of this theory, however, are tricky: the Iranian tie of all the populations on the northeastern edge of the ancient world is too weak to support the existence of one ancient ethnos; our current image of the Sarmatians is the result of loose readings of texts and archaeological evidence, nourished by nationalistic convictions. This paper de-constructs the currently accepted Sarmatian migrations and proposes a new history of the invention of the Sarmatians, through the critical re-examination of the linguistic and archaeological data as well as of the historiographical theses of the last years.

A Review of Christian Arab sources for the Sasanian Period

Amiri Bavandpour, Sajad. 2017. “A Review of Christian Arab sources for the Sasanian Period“, e-Sasanika 19.

This article in Persian reviews all the important Christian Arab sources for the study of Sasanian history. The author studies each of the Syriac and Arabic texts produced by the Christians from the third to the thirteenth century CE which provide important information on the Sasanian Empire.

The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes

Nawotka, Krzysztof. 2017. The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes. Leiden: Brill.

The Alexander Romance by Ps.-Callisthenes of Krzysztof Nawotka is a guide to a third century AD fictional biography of Alexander the Great, the anonymous Historia Alexandri Magni. It is a historical commentary which identifies all names and places in this piece of Greek literature approached as a source for the history of Alexander the Great, from kings, like Nectanebo II of Egypt and Darius III of Persia, to fictional characters. It discusses real and imaginary geography of the Alexander Romance. While dealing with all aspects of Ps.-Callisthenes relevant to Greek history and to Macedonia, its pays particular attention to aspects of ancient history and culture of Babylonia and Egypt and to the multi-layered foundation story of Alexandria.

Krzysztof Nawotka, Ph.D. (1991), The Ohio State University, is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Wrocław, Poland. He has published on Greek history, including The Western Pontic Cities: History and Political Organization (1997), Alexander the Great (2010), Boule and Demos in Miletus and its Pontic Colonies (2014).