All posts by Yazdan Safaee

Some stamp seals of Achaemenid date

Collon, Dominique & John Curtis. 2017. “Some stamp seals of Achaemenid date“, In Y. Heffron, A. Stone and M. Worthington (eds), At the Dawn of History: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of J.N. Postgate, 765-780. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.

This paper discusses a collection of 17 distinctive bronze stamp seals. They are all plaques or tablets of bronze, more or less flat on both surfaces, and square or rectangular in shape. More than half of them have a distinctive ladder-pattern border around the decorated face of the seal. The designs are usually highly stylized but sometimes more naturalistic. These seals may be compared with a stone seal from Nimrud and a silver ring from Kamid el-Loz. They apparently date from the Achaemenid period, 5th-4th century BC, and probably derive mostly from the western part of the Persian empire.

Kings, Countries, Peoples: Selected Studies on the Achaemenid Empire

Amélie Kuhrt’s translation of Pierre Briant’s selected papers has just been published:
Briant, Pierre. 2017. Kings, Countries, Peoples: Selected Studies on the Achaemenid Empire. Steiner Franz Verlag.

Pierre Briant’s work focuses particularly on the Achaemenid Empire, Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Kingdoms. For the first time a selection of articles, originally published between 1979 and 2008, is now available in an English translation. The essays, translated by Amelie Kuhrt, deal with a wide range of topics, from regional studies to more universal subjects. A thought-provoking introduction gives a deeper understanding of his thinking by sometimes adopting his conclusions and by occasionally questioning his ideas and presenting an alternative line of thought. Thus, Kings, Countries, Peoples gives us an insight into the evolution of Pierre Briant’s work.

Persepolis Administrative Archives

Annalisa Azzoni, Elspeth R. M. Dusinberre, Mark B. Garrison, Wouter F. M. Henkelman, Charles E. Jones, and Matthew W. Stolper, “PERSEPOLIS ADMINISTRATIVE ARCHIVES,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/persepolis-admin-archive (accessed on 09 June 2017).

Persepolis Administrative Archives, two groups of clay tablets, fragments, and sealings produced and stored by administrative agencies based at Persepolis. The groups are named for their find spots: the Persepolis Fortification Archive  and the Persepolis Treasury Archive. Clay sealings found elsewhere in the fortification wall at Persepolis may stem from other, perhaps related, administrative documents.

Zoroastrian afterlife beliefs and funerary practices

Hintze, Almut. 2017. “Zoroastrian afterlife beliefs and funerary practices“. In: Christopher M Moreman (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Death and Dying86–97, London and New York: Routledge.

The Persian Gulf: Khark

Floor, Willem, & D. T. Potts. 2017. The Persian Gulf: Khark: The Island’s Untold Story. Mage Publishers.

 

The island of Khark was an important link in Persian Gulf navigation, supplying passing ships with water, victuals, and pilots for ships sailing to and from Basra. This was why the Arabs called Khark the Mother of Skippers (Umm al-Rubbaniyan). Through the ages, Khark has also been a place of pilgrimage: in Sasanian times, due to the presence of an early Christian church and monastery, and in Islamic times, because of the presence of the tomb of Mohammad al-Hanafiyya. In the eighteenth century, the Dutch made the island their center of trade in the Persian Gulf, and by the nineteenth century the island was dubbed the most important strategic point in the Persian Gulf, reason why the British occupied it twice. Although by 1900 the island had lost its strategic importance, it acquired it again after the 1950s, when the National Iranian Oil Company decided to make Khark its main terminal for the export of crude oil. Later, chemical factories were added to the island’s economic make-up. As a result, Khark s name is now better known around the world than it was ever previously, but the history has remained untold. This book tells the whole story, from the early archeological evidence and the Islamic and Safavid periods, to the Dutch projects in the eighteenth century and the British in the nineteenth century. And in the end, how the traditional way of life ended and industrialization began.

Achaemenid Visual Representations of Royal Figures

Erica Ehrenberg, “Achaemenid Visual Representations of Royal Figures,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenid-visual-reps (accessed on 16 May 2017).

Visual representations of Achaemenid kings, while indebted to established Mesopotamian iconographic conventions, betray distinct understandings of sovereignty. Royal reliefs, glyptic and molded bricks are highly modeled, a trait that has been attributed to the influence of Greek carvers but could readily have been a further development of Late Babylonian stylistic precedent.

 

The Captive Emperor: Valerian, Persia and the Defeat of Edessa

Coloru, Omar. 2017. L’imperatore prigioniero. Valeriano, la Persia e la disfatta di Edessa. Editori Laterza.

 

In 260 AD, the emperor Valerian is made prisoner by the “King of kings” Shapur I: he will end his days in Persia as a prisoner of war. For the Romans, this is an unprecedented military catastrophe, even more terrible than the defeat of Crassus at Carrhae in 53 BC. Rome is going to face the worst phase of the crisis affecting the Roman empire in the 3rd century AD: the Sasanians are making incursions in Anatolia and Syria, the Renan and Danubian borders are under the pressure of the barbarians, while the Christians are persecuted all over the empire because the emperor sees in this religion a political and ideological threat for the Roman state and its traditions. What is more, the capture of Valerian generates separatist movements which allow the usurper Postumus to create the Gallic Empire. The book aims to present a biography of Valerian to a general audience but it also tries to investigate some controversial events of his reign.

via Omar Coloru.

An Italian translation of Shahnameh

Cristoforetti, Simone (ed.). 2017. Shahnameh Il Libro dei Re. Testo Poetico Persiano Dell’edizione Turner Macan. Italo Pizzi.

The first integral reprint of the Persian text of Abu ‘l-Qasem Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh printed in Calcutta (1829), published along its Italian poetic translation by the reknown iranologist Italo Pizzi (Turin, 1886-1888).
The Italinan translation is annotated by S. Cristoforetti (University of Venice) with reference to the critic edition of the Shahname by Dj. Khaleghi Motlagh. The editorial project is under the supervision of Prof. G. Scarcia (University of Venice) and undertaken in collaboration with the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad.

The second issue of Studia Iranica 45

The second issue of Studia Iranica 45 (2016) has been published. Three papers of this issue are related to our interest:

The presence in the Wizīdagīhā ī Zādspram 28,6 of an explicit reference to the figure 6666 in connection with the manifestation of Ahreman’s arrival into the world immediately suggests a direct comparison with the ‘Number of the Beast’, 666, appearing in the Apocalypse of John, 13, 17-18. The author analyses many symbolic interpretations of this number and its importance in the Early Christian tradition, in particular in the framework of Irenaeus’s Adversus Haereses and the related chiliadic milieu. While the presence of this number in the Mazdean context seems to be another evidence supporting the thesis of a Western influence on Iranian apocalypticism (in spite of the apparent absence of Syriac versions of the Apocalypse of John in earlier times), the circulation of millenaristic doctrines presents a more complex situation, in which also the Iranian component should have played its remarkable impact in earlier times.

A number of Sogdian letter fragments are preserved from the Manichaean communities in Turfan. Although the majority are written in the Sogdian script, a small number are written in a cursive variety of the Manichaean script found only in these texts. Their edition and study provides a brief glimpse into the dynamics of the community. Furthermore, the first paleographic analysis of Manichaean cursive is undertaken.

A Journal of Three Months’ Walk in Persia in 1884

Harris, Russell & Marjan Afsharian (eds.). 2017. A Journal of Three Months’ Walk in Persia in 1884 by Captain John Compton Pyne. Leiden University Press.

 

In 1884 an obscure British soldier, having finished his tour of duty in India, decided to make a detour on his trip home in order to spend three months crossing Persia unaccompanied except for the local muleteers. Among his accoutrements he packed a small leather-bound sketchbook in which he not only wrote a journal but in which he also added accomplished and charming water-colour illustrations. The authors’ introduction contextualises this trip made in 1884 against the background of Persianate influence in British culture, and the general cultural background of late Victorian Britain is presented as the subliminal driver behind a young man’s desire to explore, and illustrate, an already discovered country – Persia.

Marjan Afsharian gained her MA in the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS. She currently works for the Encyclopaedia Islamica project at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London.

Russell Harris holds an MA in Oriental Studies from Balliol College, Oxford, and is an established translator of literary works from French and Arabic. He is a contributor to the The Routledge Encyclopedia of 19th Century Photography and The Encyclopaedia Islamica.