All posts by Yazdan Safaee

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).


The sixth issue of Historia i Świat (2017) has been published. Many papers of this issue are related to our interest:

  • Svyatoslav V. SMIRNOV: Notes on Timarchos’ Iconography: Dioscuri Type
  • Mozhgan KHANMORADI & Kamal Aldin NIKNAMI: An Analytical Approach to Investigate the Parthians Painted Stuccoes from Qal‘eh-i Yazdigird, Western Iran
  • Ilkka SYVÄNNE: Parthian Cataphract vs. the Roman Army 53 BC-AD 224
  • Morteza KHANIPOOR, Hosseinali KAVOSH & Reza NASERI: The reliefs of Naqš-e Rostam and a reflection on a forgotten relief, Iran
  • Gholamreza KARAMIAN & Kaveh FARROKH: Sassanian stucco decorations from the Ramavand (Barz Qawaleh) excavations in the Lorestan Province of Iran
  • Katarzyna MAKSYMIUK: The capture Ḥaṭrā in light of military and political activities of Ardašīr I
  • Michael Richard JACKSON BONNER: A Brief Military History of the Later Reign of Šapur II
  • Patryk SKUPNIEWICZ: The bullae of the spahbedan. Some iconographic remarks
  • Joan ZOUBERI: The role of religion in the foreign affairs of Sasanian Iran and the Later Roman Empire (330-630 A.D.)
  • Tomasz SIŃCZAK: New Russian view on Sassanid Empire. Polemic with book: М. Мочалов, Д. Полежаев, Держава Сасанидов 224 – 653 годы, Москва 2016

Frederick E. Brenk on Plutarch, Religious Thinker and Biographer

Lanzillotta, Lautaro Roig with the collaboration of Luisa Lesage (eds.). 2017. Frederick E. Brenk on Plutarch, Religious Thinker and Biographer. Leiden: Brill.

Revolt and Resistance in the Ancient Classical World and the Near East

Collins, John & J.G. Manning. 2016. Revolt and Resistance in the Ancient Classical World and the Near East: In the Crucible of Empire. Leiden: Brill.

This collection of essays contains a state of the field discussion about the nature of revolt and resistance in the ancient world. While it does not cover the entire ancient world, it does focus in on the key revolts of the pre-Roman imperial world. Regardless of the exact sequence, it was an undeniable fact that the area we now call the Middle East witnessed a sequence of extensive empires in the second half of the last millennium BCE. At first, these spread from East to West (Assyria, Babylon, Persia). Then after the campaigns of Alexander, the direction of conquest was reversed. Despite the sense of inevitability, or of divinely ordained destiny, that one might get from the passages that speak of a sequence of world-empires, imperial rule was always contested. The essays in this volume consider some of the ways in which imperial rule was resisted and challenged, in the Assyrian, Persian, and Hellenistic (Seleucid and Ptolemaic) empires. Not every uprising considered in this volume would qualify as a revolution by this definition. Revolution indeed was on the far end of a spectrum of social responses to empire building, from resistance to unrest, to grain riots and peasant rebellions. The editors offer the volume as a means of furthering discussions on the nature and the drivers of resistance and revolution, the motivations for them as well as a summary of the events that have left their mark on our historical sources long after the dust had settled.

Table of contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction. John J. Collins and J. G. Manning
When is a Revolt not a Revolt? A Case for Contingency. Erich S. Gruen
Assyria and Babylonia
Revolts in the Assyrian Empire. Succession Wars, Rebellions against a False King, and Independence Movements. Karen Radner
Assyria’s Demise as Recompense: A Note on Narratives of Resistance in Babylonia and Judah Peter R. Bedford
Revolts in the Neo-Assyrian Empire: A Preliminary Discourse Analysis. Eckart Frahm
The Persian Empire
Xerxes and the Oathbreakers: Empire and Rebellion on the Northwestern Front. Matt Waters
Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes II, 401 BC. An Achaemenid Civil War Reconsidered. John Lee
Resistance, Revolt and Revolution in Achaemenid Persia. A Response. E. R. M. Dusinberre
The Ptolemaic Kingdom
Revolting Subjects. Empires and Insurrection, Ancient and Modern. Brian McGing
Revolts under the Ptolemies. A Paleoclimatological Perspective. Francis Ludlow and J. G. Manning
The Seleucid Empire
Resistance and Revolt. The Case of the Maccabees. Robert Doran
Temple or Taxes? What Sparked the Maccabean Revolt? John J. Collins
The Roman Empire
The Importance of Perspective. The Jewish-Roman Conflict of 66-70 CE as a Revolution James McLaren and Martin Goodman
Josephus, Jewish Resistance and the Masada Myth. Tessa Rajak
The Impact of the Jewish Rebellions, 66 – 135 CE. Destruction or Provincialization? Seth Schwartz

Studies on the Seleukid Empire between East and West

Engels, David. 2017. Benefactors, Kings, Rulers. Studies on the Seleukid Empire between East and West (Studia Hellenistica 57). Leuven: Peeters.

The present volume contains a series of critical studies devoted to the political, institutional and ideological construction of the Seleukid empire, with particular focus on the complex interplay between the Seleukids’ Graeco-Macedonian background and their Achaimenid heritage. In order to explore to what extent the Seleukids can be considered heirs to the Achaimenids and precursors of the Parthians, and to what extent they simply ‘imported’ cultural and political behavioural patterns developed in Greece and Macedonia, the studies collected here adopt a decidedly interdisciplinary and diachronic approach. They investigate diverse fields, including the construction of the Seleukid royal court; the title of ‘Great King’; the prosopography of early Seleukid Iran; the integration of the ‘Upper Satrapies’ into the new Seleukid empire; the continued importance of the Iranian religions under the early Seleukids; the reign of the Persian Frataraka; the ‘feudalisation’ of the Seleukid empire under Antiochos III; the construction of a Hellenistic gymnasion in Seleukid Jerusalem; the importance of the Seleukid kingdom as a model for Eunous’ Sicilian slave-state; the evolution of the Syrian civic elite; and the potential influence of Seleukos’ royal propaganda on the religious self-legitimation of Augustus. Finally, a general comparison is proposed between the Seleukid empire and 19th century European colonialism.

Household and Family Religion in Persian-Period Judah

Gallarreta, Jose E. Balcells. 2017. Household and Family Religion in Persian-Period Judah: An Archaeological Approach (Ancient Near East Monographs 18), SBL Press.

Balcells Gallarreta investigates the ritual artifacts from Persian period Tell en-Nasbeh in their original contexts, as a case study that provides a deeper understanding of the religious ideas and practices of households in Persian period Judah. Unlike previous scholarship that focused on official or state religion, he utilizes archaeology of religion and domestic contexts to reveal the existence of household religion and rituals in Persian period Tell en-Nasbeh, along with other contemporary sites in Yehud. Archaeological data from Tell en-Nasbeh and other sites in the Shephelah region of Yehud demonstrate that family and household rituals and religion were practiced in Persian period Judah.

José E. Balcells Gallarreta is Assistant Professor at Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, where he focuses on Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern archaeology.

Achaemenid Anatolia

International Symposium
Achaemenid Anatolia: Persian Presence and Influence in the Western Satrapies 546–330 BC
7–8 September 2017
The Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul,

The symposium explores the political, cultural, social, religious and scientific developments in Anatolia during the Achaemenid period. Anatolia was incorporated into the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the middle of the 6th century BC as a result of Cyrus the Great’s conquests and the region was under Persian rule until the end of the Empire, in 330. The period is characterized by a lively exchange between Persians, Greeks and other peoples in areas such as trade, art, architecture, science and religion. Anatolia also served as an important mediator of eastern culture, philosophy and teachings to Athens, a process that was crucial for the continuity in culture development in antiquity.
Continue reading Achaemenid Anatolia

The wolf in ancient Iran

Azarnouche, Samra. 2016. “Le loup dans l’Iran ancien. Entre mythe, réalité et exégèse zoroastrienne”Anthropology of the Middle East 11(1): 1–19.

How did ancient Iranian religion represent the wolf? Between the mythological data, the realities of the agro-pastoral world, and the symbolism of exegetical tradition, Late Antique Zoroastrianism considered the wolf as primarily a species to kill. In reality, much more than the Canis lupus hides behind the word ‘wolf ’ (Middle Persian gurg), including most nocturnal predators but also devastating illnesses, a monster whom the Savior will destroy at the end of time, and finally heretics who renounce or deform the Good Religion. However, this negative image is nuanced by the recognition of the strong ties between the she-wolf and wolf cubs, both in texts where the protective qualities of this large predator are evoked, and in iconography, namely magic seals, where one finds the image of the nourishing she-wolf, perhaps connected to perinatal magic.