Category Archives: Books

Assyromania and More

Pedde, Friedhelm & Nathanael Shelley (eds.). 2018. Assyromania and More. In Memory of Samuel M. Paley. Münster: Zaphon.

Among other interesting subjects, this book contains three papers regarding ancient Iran:

New Research on Central Asian, Buddhist and Far Eastern Art and Archaeology

Juliano, Annette & Judith Lerner (eds.). 2019. Inner and Central Asian art and archaeology. Vol. 2. New research. Turnhout: Brepols.

This second volume of the series offers a broad range of subject matter from an equally broad range of regions. Michael Shenkar compares a particular type of deity from the Parthian West (Palmyra, Hatra) with the colossal image of a divinity from Akchakhan-kala in ancient Choresmia (part of modern-day Uzbekistan). Careful iconographic analysis of a sealing showing the god Mithra, found at Kafir Qala near Samarkand, allows Fabrizio Sinisi to suggest a Kushan origin for the seal that made the impression. Several contributions on Sogdiana concern its archaeology and early history (Bi Bo on Kangju and Sogdiana); the iconography of one of the major wall painting cycles at Panjikent (Matteo Compareti) as well as the city’s temples and deities worshipped (Markus Mode). By drawing on archaeological, ethnological and historical data, Sören Stark offers an extensive discussion of mountain pastoralism and seasonal occupation in northern Tajikistan, north of the Zerafshan River in what were borderlands for Sogdiana. Rounding out the first part of this volume is Suzanne G. Valentine’s publication of a Bactrian camel clay sculpture, excavated in the Sui-Tang capital of Xi’an, its saddlebags decorated with an unusual motif. The second and last part is guest-edited by John Clarke, convener of a Buddhist conference in 2010. This section contains updated or new papers by some of the participants—Naman P. Ahuja on Buddhist imagery in Bengal; Amy Heller on the impact of Kashmiri art on Guge and Ladakh; Deborah Klimburg-Salter on Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Afghanistan; and Michael Willis on sculpture from Sarnath in the British Museum—along with that of Chiara Bellini on the restoration of the Alchi Sumtsek and the dating of the Ladakhi temple.

Table of Contents
On Central Asian Art and Archaeology
·      Michael SHENKAR – “The Chorasmian Gad: On the “Colossal” Figure from Akchakhan-kala”
·      Fabrizio SINISI – “A Kushan Investiture Scene with Mithra on a Seal Impression from Kafir Qala, Samarkand”
·      BI Bo – “Recent Archaeological Discoveries Regarding Kangju and Sogdiana”
·      Matteo COMPARETI – “Simurgh or Farr? On the Representation of Fantastic Creatures in the Sogdian ‘Rustam Cycle’ at Panjikent”
·      Markus MODE – “In the Heart of the City: On Sogdian Temples and Deities at Panjikent”

On Buddhist Sculpture:
Papers from a Symposium held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, November 8 and 9, 2010, and Papers Inspired by the Symposium
·      John CLARKE (Guest Editor) – “Introduction”
·      Naman P. AHUJA – “Rethinking the History of Buddhist Imagery in Bengal, circa 200 BCE – 700 CE”
·      Michael WILLIS – “Markham Kittoe and Sculpture from Sarnath in the British Museum”
·      Deborah KLIMBURG-SALTER – “Buddhist Pilgrimage to India: Bamiyan, Kapisa
·      -Kabul, and Mes Aynak”
·      Amy HELLER – “Tracing the Impact of Kashmiri Art in Guge and Ladakh, Eleventh to Thirteenth Centuries”
·      Chiara BELLINI – “Some Other Pieces of the Puzzle: The Restoration of the Alchi Sumtsek by Tashi Namgyal and Other Considerations on the Dating of the Ladakhi Temple”

On Far Eastern Art and Archaeology
·      Bonnie CHENG – “The Underground Silk Road – Pictorial Affinities in Fifth-century Cave Temples and Tombs”
·      Heather D. CLYDESDALE – “Buried Towers: Artistic Innovation on China’s Frontier”
·      Suzanne G. VALENSTEIN with Annette L. JULIANO and Judith A. LERNER – “Hellenism in Sui-Tang Chang’an: Dionysiac Imagery on Mortuary Camels”
Young-pil KWON – “Note on Border Patterns Dividing the Earthly and Heavenly Realms in Goguryeo Tomb Paintings”

MIDDLE PERSIAN PRIVATE INSCRIPTIONS

Nasrollahzadeh, Cyrus. 2019. Middle Persian Private Inscriptions in the Sasanian and Post-Sasanian Period: Funerary and Memorial Inscriptions, Vol I: Text & vol. II: picture. Tehran: Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies.

The present book is a corpus of private inscriptions written in Middle Persian dated to, in words of the author, Sasanian and post-Sasanian periods. The first section of first chapter deals with the funerary in ancient Iran with special interest to the Sasanian period which is followed by an introduction of epitaphs in the second section of this chapter. Memorial inscriptions are presented and interpreted in chapter 2 and finally in chapter 3, the author investigates the private inscriptions from Sasanian period and those of the Iranian Christians.

نصراله‌زاده، سیروس. ۱۳۹۸. کتیبه‌های خصوصی فارسی میانه ساسانی و پساسانی (گورنوشته، یادبودی)، جلد اول: متن، جلد دوم: تصویر. تهران: پژوهشگاه علوم انسانی و مطالعات فرهنگی

Journey to the City

Tinney, Steve & Karen Sonik (eds.). 2019. Journey to the City :A Companion to the Middle East Galleries at the Penn Museum. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The Penn Museum has a long and storied history of research and archaeological exploration in the ancient Middle East. This book highlights this rich depth of knowledge while also serving as a companion volume to the Museum’s signature Middle East Galleries opening in April 2018. This edited volume includes chapters and integrated short, focused pieces from Museum curators and staff actively involved in the detailed planning of the new galleries. In addition to highlighting the most remarkable and interesting objects in the Museum’s extraordinary Middle East collections, this volume illuminates the primary themes within these galleries (make, settle, connect, organize, and believe) and provides a larger context within which to understand them.
The ancient Middle East is home to the first urban settlements in human history, dating to the fourth millennium BCE; therefore, tracing this move toward city life figures prominently in the book. The topic of urbanization, how it came about and how these early steps still impact our daily lives, is explored from regional and localized perspectives, bringing us from Mesopotamia (Ur, Uruk, and Nippur) to Islamic and Persianate cites (Rayy and Isfahan) and, finally, connecting back to life in modern Philadelphia. Through examination of topics such as landscape, resources, trade, religious belief and burial practices, daily life, and nomads, this very important human journey is investigated both broadly and with specific case studies.

Steve Tinney is Associate Curator-in-Charge of the Babylonian Section and the Clark Research Associate Professor of Assyriology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Karen Sonik is Assistant Professor of Art History at Auburn University.

Fire in Zoroastrian and Manichaean Apocalyptic

König, Götz. 2019. The Idea of an Apocalyptic Fire According to the Old and Middle Iranian Sources. In Jochen Althoff, Dominik Berrens & Tanja Pommerening (eds.), Finding, Inheriting or Borrowing? The Construction and Transfer of Knowledge in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, 313–342. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.

A reasonable method through which to approach the reconstruction of religious phenomena in Iran would be to view the phenomena involved from this double perspective involving vertical and horizontal relationships. Defining the perennial and the changing elements, kernels and agglomerations, etc., would surely be helpful in this respect. So too would the drawing up of chronologies related to the history of religious ideas in Iran. The idea of an apocalypse – and this idea is, as we shall see, essentially the idea of the end of the world in fire – is a good example upon which to base a historical analysis located in the aforementioned double bipolar field: Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism; Avesta and late antique religious text.

This article as well as the whole volume are open access, available for free download.

Mithras – Miθra – Mitra

Lahe, Jaan. 2019. Mithras – Miθra – Mitra. Der römische Gott Mithras aus der Perspektive der vergleichenden Religionsgeschichte (Kasion 3). München: Zaphon.

The Roman Mithras cult is one of the so-called “oriental cults” that spread throughout the Roman Empire. Although ancient tradition regards it as a Persian cult, Franz Cumont (the “father of modem Mithraic-study”), and many scholars have been convinced of its Iranian origin. All the information presently available to us opposes this view and suggests that the Roman Mithras cult was not an imported cult from Iran, but a cult that developed within the borders of the Roman Empire and grew there after the end of the first century A.D. It is certain that this cult would not have originated among the Romans if the Iranian god Mithra had been unknown to them. We know that Graeco-Roman authors diseminated infor­mation about the god Mithra. Since the regions of the East, where the deity Mithra was worshiped prior to the Roman Mithraic cult ( especially in Asia Minor), belonged to the Roman Empire, it is very likely that the Romans saw visual representations of this god and thus became familiar with Mithraic iconography.

The author of the present book assumes that the Roman cult of Mithras is not identical with the cult of Mithra/Mithras/Mithres in the Hellenistic East or even in Iranian religion, but must be regarded as an independent cult in the context of Roman religion. At the same time, the author is convinced that an important link existed between the three cults mentioned above. It is not only the name of the god, which goes back to an Indo-Iranian appellative mitra (Neutr.), but also the figure or personality of the god, who in the Roman Empire was called Mithras, in the Hellenistic Orient Mithra or Mithres and in Iran Miθra/Mithra (later Mihr). The author, on the basis of the literary, epigraphic and nunmismatic sources and other representations of the god, compares the personality of “Mithra” ( used here as the summary meta-name for different deities).

The reshaping of Persian art

Szántó, Iván & Yuka Kadoi (eds.). 2019. The reshaping of Persian art: Art histories of Islamic Iran and Centra Asia (Acta et Studia XV). Piliscsaba: The Avicenna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies.

How to order:
Avicenna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies
Contact: Oroszi Gyöngyi
Tel.: + 36 (06) 26 375 329 / 414
E-mail: oroszi@avicenna-kkki.hu

Continue reading The reshaping of Persian art

The Eastern Frontier

Haug, Robert. 2019. The eastern frontier: Limits of empire in late antique and early medieval Central Asia (Early and Medieval Islamic World). London: I.B. Tauris.

Transoxania, Khurasan, and ?ukharistan – which comprise large parts of today’s Central Asia – have long been an important frontier zone. In the late antique and early medieval periods, the region was both an eastern political boundary for Persian and Islamic empires and a cultural borderseparating communities of sedentary farmers from pastoral-nomads.

Given its peripheral location, the history of the ‘eastern frontier’ in this period has often been shown through the lens of expanding empires. However, in this book, Robert Haug argues for a pre-modern Central Asia with a discrete identity, a region that is not just a transitory space or the far-flung corner of empires, but its own historical entity. From this locally specific perspective, the book takes the reader on a 900-year tour of the area, from Sasanian control, through the Umayyads and Abbasids, to the quasi-independent dynasties of the Tahirids and the Samanids. Drawing on an impressive array of literary, numismatic and archaeological sources, Haug reveals the unique and varied challenges the eastern frontier presented to imperial powers that strove to integrate the area into their greater systems. This is essential reading for all scholars working on early Islamic, Iranian and Central Asian history, as well as those with an interest in the dynamics of frontier regions.

The Persian Gulf

Nokandeh, Jebrael & Abdolreza Dashtizadeh (eds.). 2019. The Persian Gulf: An archaeological perspective. Tehran: National Museum of Iran, Qeshm Free Zone.

For a partial Table of Contents, see Potts (2019) in the above publication.

Iranian Religions: Zoroastrianism, Yezidis and Bahaism

Hutter, Manfred. 2019. Iranische Religionen: Zoroastrismus, Yezidentum, Bahāʾītum. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Das Studienbuch ist aus Erfahrungen des Unterrichts zu den im Untertitel genannten Religionen erwachsen, wobei der methodische Zugang religionshistorisch (bis zur Gegenwart) und religionsvergleichend ist. Daher werden die drei Religionen der Zoroastrier, Yeziden und Baha’i in einer weitgehend parallelen Struktur beschrieben, um so das gemeinsame “iranische Erbe” sichtbar zu machen, ohne die jeweiligen Eigenheiten der drei Religionen zu nivellieren oder zu harmonisieren. Behandelt werden (bei jeder der drei Religionen) u.a. identitätsstiftende Faktoren für die Religion und die Religion als identitätsmarker, ferner “klassische” Themen zu Welt- und Menschenbild inklusive ethische Herausforderungen sowie das weite Feld der (rituellen) Praxis. Genauso kommen jeweils Organisationsstrukturen sowie die einbettung der Religion in den gesellschaftlichen und religionspolitischen Diskurs im iranischen Raum im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert sowie die Verbreitung im deutschsprachigen Raum seit zwei bis drei Generationen zur Sprache. Kap. 6 geht auch auf die Religionspolitik der Islamischen Republik Iran ein.