Category Archives: Books

Profiling Death

Wicks, Yasmina. 2019. Profiling Death. Neo-Elamite Mortuary Practices, Afterlife Beliefs, and Entanglements with Ancestors (Culture and History of the Ancient Near East 98). Leiden: Brill.

Recent scholarship has begun to unveil the culturally rich and dynamic landscape of southwest Iran during the first half of the first millennium BCE (aka the Neo-Elamite period) and its significance as the incubation ground for the Persian Empire. In Profiling Death. Neo-Elamite Mortuary Practices, Afterlife Beliefs, and Entanglements with Ancestors, Yasmina Wicks continues the investigation of this critical epoch from the perspective of the mortuary record, bringing forth fascinating clues as to the ritual practices, beliefs, social structures and individual identities of Elam’s lowland and highland inhabitants. Enmeshed with its neighbours, yet in many ways culturally distinct, Elam receives its due treatment here as a core component of the ancient Near East.

Alexander der Große

Müller, Sabine. 2019. Alexander der Große. Eroberungen – Politik – Rezeption. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Alexander III. von Makedonien (356-323 v. Chr.) gilt als einer der größten Eroberer der Antike. Bereits zu seinen Lebzeiten wurden gezielt um seine Person und Politik Mythen gewoben. Seit der Antike polarisieren die schillernd konstruierten Kunstfiguren, zu denen Alexander stilisiert wurde. Fakten wurden dabei von Fiktionen überlagert. Sabine Müller dekonstruiert diese artifiziellen Images und zeichnet die Politik der historischen Person Alexander nach, der in den Traditionen seiner Dynastie, der Argeaden, stand und auf die politischen Zwänge innerhalb seines expandierenden Reichs achten musste.

Professor Dr. Sabine Müller ist Inhaberin des Lehrstuhls für Alte Geschichte an der Universität Marburg.

Source: Alexander der Große, Sabine Müller bei Dienst am Buch Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH

The Greek Experience of India

Stoneman, Richard. 2019. The Greek Experience of India: From Alexander to the Indo-Greeks. Princeton University Press.


When the Greeks and Macedonians in Alexander’s army reached India in 326 BCE, they entered a new and strange world. They knew a few legends and travelers’ tales, but their categories of thought were inadequate to encompass what they witnessed. The plants were unrecognizable, their properties unknown. The customs of the people were various and puzzling. While Alexander’s conquest was brief, ending with his death in 323 BCE, the Greeks would settle in the Indian region for the next two centuries, forging an era of productive interactions between the two cultures. The Greek Experience of India explores the various ways that the Greeks reacted to and constructed life in India during this fruitful period.

From observations about botany and mythology to social customs, Richard Stoneman examines the surviving evidence of those who traveled to India. Most particularly, he offers a full and valuable look at Megasthenes, ambassador of the King Seleucus to Chandragupta Maurya, and provides a detailed discussion of Megasthenes’ now-fragmentary book Indica. Stoneman considers the art, literature, and philosophy of the Indo-Greek kingdom and how cultural influences crossed in both directions, with the Greeks introducing their writing, coinage, and sculptural and architectural forms, while Greek craftsmen learned to work with new materials such as ivory and stucco and to probe the ideas of Buddhists and other ascetics.

Relying on an impressively wide variety of sources from the Indian subcontinent, The Greek Experience of India is a masterful account of the encounters between two remarkable civilizations.

On Dating Biblical Texts to the Persian Period

Bautch, Richard J., and Mark Lackowski (eds.) (2019). On Dating Biblical Texts to the Persian Period. Mohr Siebrek Ek.


In the last two decades, increasing numbers of texts have been suggested as coming from or edited during the Persian period, but these discussions do not always reflect extensively on the assumptions used in making these claims or the implications on a broader scale. Earlier generations of scholars found it sufficient to categorize material in the biblical books simply as “late” or “postexilic” without adequately trying to determine when, by whom, and why the material was incorporated into the text at a fixed point in the Persian period. By grappling with these questions, the essays in this volume evince a greater degree of precision vis-a-vis dating and historical context. The authors introduce the designations early Persian, middle Persian, and late Persian in their textual analysis, and collectively they take significant steps toward developing criteria for locating a biblical text within the Persian period.

Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism

Kassam, Zayn R., Yudit Kornberg Greenberg & Jehan Bagli (eds.). 2018. Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism (Encyclopedia of Indian Religions 15157). New York, NY: Springer.

The earlier volume in this series dealt with two religions of Indian origin, namely, Buddhism and Jainism. The Indian religious scene, however, is characterized by not only religions which originated in India but also by religions which entered India from outside India and made their home here. Thus religious life in India has been enlivened throughout its history by the presence of religions of foreign origin on its soil almost from the very time they came into existence. This volume covers three such religions—Zoraoastrianism, Judaism, and Islam . In the case of Zoraostianism, even its very  beginnings  are intertwined with India, as Zoroastrianism reformed a preexisting religion which had strong links to the Vedic heritage of India. This relationship took on a new dimension when a Zoroastrian community, fearing persecution in Persia after its Arab conquest, sought shelter in western India and ultimately went on to produce India’s pioneering nationalist in the figure of Dadabhai Naoroji ( 1825-1917), also known as the Grand Old Man of India. Jews found refuge in south India after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. and have remained a part of the Indian religious scene since then, some even returning to Israel after it was founded in 1948. Islam arrived in Kerala as soon as it was founded and one of the earliest mosques in the history of Islam is found in India. Islam differs from the previously mentioned religions inasmuch as it went on to gain political hegemony over parts of the country for considerable periods of time, which meant that its impact on the religious life of the subcontinent has been greater compared to the other religions. It has also meant that Islam has existed in a religiously plural environment in India for a longer period than elsewhere in the world so that not only has Islam left a mark on India, India has also left its mark on it. Indeed all the three religions covered in this volume share this dual feature, that they have profoundly influenced Indian religious life and have also in turn been profoundly influenced by their presence in India.

Narrative Illustration on Qajar Tilework in Shiraz

Seyed Mousavi, Atefeh. 2018. Narrative Illustration on Qajar Tilework in Shiraz (Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte des Islamischen Orients). 2 vols. Dortmund: Verlag für Orientkunde.

Tilework illustration of the Qajar period has received comparatively little scholarly consideration. This applies specifically to Shiraz, where the art was abundantly practiced. My book, the first of its kind, presents a detailed analytical study of Qajar tile painting in Shiraz. The material has been collected during two extensive fieldwork trips. Having collected more than 5,000 photos, I have chosen 42 historical buildings in Shiraz with tile work decoration for a detailed analysis, supplying minute descriptions for each and every image together with a solid documentation of the tiles’ respective location in the buildings. My study identifies, classifies and analyzes the depicted themes and the craftsmanship behind it. Particular attention has been devoted to a detailed discussion of the prominent themes, their argument and motivation, as well as to popular artists of the period. In addition to the study, my work contains ample visual documentation.

Vol. 1, 335 pages (Texts); Vol. 2, 268 pages (Coloured Images)

The Concept of Monument in Achaemenid Empire

Soheil, Mehr Azar. 2019. The concept of monument in Achaemenid Empire. New York: Routledge.

The aim of this book is to explore the significance of the concept of ‘monument’ in the context of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC), with particular reference to the Royal Ensemble of Persepolis, founded by Darius I and built together with his son Xerxes. While Persepolis was built as an ‘intentional monument’, it had already become an ‘historic monument’ during the Achaemenid period. It maintained its symbolic significance in the following centuries even after its destruction by Alexander of Macedonia in 330 BC. The purpose of building Persepolis was to establish a symbol and a common reference for the peoples of the Empire with the Achaemenid Dynasty, transmitting significant messages and values such as peace, stability, grandeur and praise for the dynastic figure of the king as the protector of values and fighting falsehood.
While previous research on Achaemenid heritage has mainly been on archaeological and art-historical aspects of Persepolis, the present work focuses on the architecture and design of Persepolis. It is supported by studies in the fields of archaeology, history and art history, as well as by direct survey of the site. The morphological analysis of Persepolis, including the study of the proportions of the elevations, and the verification of a planning grid for the layout of the entire ensemble demonstrate the univocal will by Darius to plan Persepolis following a precise initial scheme. The study shows how the inscriptions, bas-reliefs and the innovative architectural language together express the symbolism, values and political messages of the Achaemenid Dynasty, exhibiting influence from different lands in a new architectural language and in the plan of the entire site.

A Thousand Judgements: Festschrift for Maria Macuch

Hintze, Almut, Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst & Claudius Naumann (eds.). 2019. A thousand judgements: Festschrift for Maria Macuch. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

This volume in honour of Maria Macuch brings together twenty-six articles by friends and colleagues to celebrate the academic work of the foremost living expert of Sasanian law. The subjects covered here include Iranian linguistics and philology, Judeo-Persian, Zoroastrian law and religion, Manichaeism, and the Babylonian Talmud. They reflect the breadth of the work of Maria Macuch. The volume includes studies of important Iranian legal, grammatical and religious terms and titles, of the intercultural engagement between Zoroastrians, Manichaeans and Jews, and editions and studies of texts and text fragments in Pahlavi, Sogdian, Khotanese and Judeo-Persian languages. The book will be of special interest to legal, cultural and religious historians as well as to philologists and linguists.

Table of Contents (PDF)

  • Miguel Ángel Andrés-Toledo: “Ritual Competence and Liability of Minors in Ancient Zoroastrianism. On Avestan dahmō.kərəta– and š́iiaoϑnāuuarəz-“
  • Samra Azarnouche: “Les fonctions religieuses et la loi zoroastrienne: le cas du hērbed
  • David Buyaner: “Zur Haar- und Nagelpflege im Zoroastrismus. Beiträge zur Erklärung mittelpersischer Rechts- und Religionsterminologie. III.”
  • Alberto Cantera: “About the Epithet pauruuaniia- of the Zoroastrian Sacred Girdle (Y 9.26)”
  • Iris Colditz: “Eine vergessene zoroastrische Märtyrerin?”
  • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: “Manichaean Book Quires”
  • Yaakov Elman †: “The Torah of Temporary Marriage. A Study in Cultural History”
  • Ela Filippone: “On Old Persian tačara- and its Elusive Meaning”
  • Philippe Gignoux: “Les ‹ Mémoires › dans l’archive pehlevie de Berkeley/Berlin”
  • Jost Gippert: “Onomastica Irano-Iberica. II. The Name of a Zoroastrian “Bishop””
  • Rika Gyselen: “Les données de géographie administrative sassanide
  • dans le Šahrestānīhā-ī Ērānšahr : une réévaluation”
  • Almut Hintze: “Maria Macuch and Iranian Studies”
  • Tal Ilan and Reuven Kiperwasser: “Virginity and Water: Between the Babylonian Talmud and Iranian Myth”
  • Éva M. Jeremiás: “The Technical Term tarkīb “Compound” in the Indigenous Persian “Scientific” Literature”
  • Judith Josephson: “Aristotle’s Theory of the Elements and Zoroastrian Dualism”
  • Yishai Kiel and Prods Oktor Skjærvø: “Normative and Theological Dissent in Early Zoroastrian Law: Pahlavi Nīrangestān 23″
  • Götz König: “Die Pahlavi-Literatur des 9./10. Jahrhunderts und ihre frühe Kodex Überlieferung (I)”
  • Manfred Lorenz † : “Ignatius Pietraszewski – ein polnischer Iranist in Berlin”
  • Mauro Maggi: “Annotations on the Book of Zambasta, V: Indian Parallels to 2.139 and the Musk of Khotan”
  • Enrico Morano und Christiane Reck: “Vom ersten bis zum 30. Tag: Ein Blatt mit soghdischen prognostischen und medizinischen Kalendertexten”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Thе Liturgical Daēnā. Speculative Aspects of the Next-of-Kin Unions”
  • Adriano V. Rossi: “Iranian Words in čam°*”
  • Martin Schwartz and Alexis Manaster Ramer: “Some Interlinguistic Iranian Conundrums”
  • Nicholas Sims-Williams: “The Wisdom of Aḥiqar and the Wisdom of Ādurbād: A Manichaean Parallel”
  • Dieter Weber: “The Story of Windād-Burzmihr. A Zoroastrian Entrepreneur in Early Islamic Times”
  • Yutaka Yoshida: “Some New Interpretations of the Two Judeo-Persian Letters from Khotan”

Religious change among the Safavids

Stickel, Farida. 2019. Zwischen Chiliasmus und Staatsraeson: Religiöser Wandel unter den Safaviden (Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten 70). Boston, MA: De Gruyter.

Die Arbeit geht dem religiösen Wandel in Iran unter den Safaviden nach. Dabei wird nicht die Verkündung der Schia als offizieller Religion 1501 in den Mittelpunkt gestellt. Vielmehr werden die Safaviden kontextualisiert, der religiöse Wandel selbst anhand beteiligter Akteure, Auswirkungen auf religiöse Institutionen und Legitimation von Herrschaft sowie der Übersetzung in Architektur und Performanz von Ritualen nachgezeichnet.

Xerxes and Babylonia

Waerzeggers , Caroline (ed.). 2018. Xerxes and Babylonia: The Cuneiform Evidence. Leuven: Peeters.


In the summer of 484 BCE Babylonia revolted against Xerxes, king of Persia. In recent years, a debate has crystallized around the nature of Xerxes’ response to this challenge. This volume continues and expands this debate. It collects nine essays on the cuneiform text corpus dated to the period before, during and after the revolts. This material enables the authors to evaluate the nature of Xerxes’ policies in the sphere of society, science, religion, law, administration and economy against the long-term history of the region. The contributions are by Paul-Alain Beaulieu, Johannes Hackl, Michael Jursa, Karlheinz Kessler, Mathieu Ossendrijver, Reinhard Pirngruber, Malgorzata Sandowicz and Caroline Waerzeggers.