Category Archives: Books

Silk Roads

Whitfield, Susan (ed.). 2019. Silk roads: Peoples, cultures, landscapes. California: University of California Press.

The Silk Roads continue to capture the imagination of the public, and, in 2014, a section of the land routes was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Yet there was no single “Silk Road.” Instead, a complex network of trade routes spanned Afro-Eurasia’s mountains, plains, deserts, and seas. From silk to spices, religion to dance, traffic in goods and ideas was crucial to the development of civilizations through rich cultural interactions and economic activity.
Centered around the dramatic landscapes of the Silk Roads, this beautiful volume honors the great diversity of medieval Afro-Eurasian cultures. Each section—from steppe to desert to ocean—includes maps, a historical and archaeological overview and thematic essays by leading historians worldwide, as well as sidebars showcasing objects that exemplify the art, archaeology and architecture of the Silk Roads.


Source: Silk Roads by Susan Whitfield – Hardcover – University of California Press

The author of numerous books and articles on the Silk Roads and China, including Life Along the Silk Road and Silk, Slaves, and Stupas, Susan Whitfield is a scholar, curator, writer, lecturer, and traveler of the Silk Roads.

Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the Early Islamic Period in Iran and Iraq

Malek, Hodge Mehdi. 2019. Arab-Sasanian Numismatics and History during the Early Islamic Period in Iran and Iraq: The Johnson Collection of Arab-Sasanian Coins (Royal Numismatic Society Special Publication 55). 2 vols. London: Royal Numismatic Society.

This is the first major work to attempt a comprehensive survey of the Arab-Sasanian silver coinage since Walker’s 1941 Catalogue of the British Museum collection. It includes the latest research on the subject, both historical (chapters 1 to 4) and numismatic (chapter 5 to 15). All the coins (over 1,600), both silver drachms and copperfulus, in the Johnson collection are illustrated on the excellent plates. Where thJohnson collection does not have a specimen of an important coin an example is illustrated from another source, making this a truly important work

The extensive chapters on the persons named on the coins, the mints, and the Pahlavi, Arabic and Sogdian legends, make this an invaluable historical source. Other chapters discuss the copper issues with theirvaried designs, the eras and dates used, metrology, coins struck in the east in Sīstān and further north by the Hephthalites, and counter marks, as well as the designs found on the silver drachms. All Pahlavi and Arabic legends (mints, persons named, religious and other marginal legends, dates) are written out as theyappear on the coins in extensive tables. This makes it possible for a beginner in the series to read thesesometimes difficult legends.

See here the Table of Contents of the two volumes.

The Deccan Sultanates

Flatt, Emma. 2019. The courts of the Deccan Sultanates: Living well in the Persian cosmopolis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, courtliness was crucial to the political and cultural life of the Deccan. Divided between six states competing for territory, resources and skills, the medieval and early modern Deccan was a region of striking ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. People used multifaceted trans-regional networks – mercantile, kinship, friendship and intellectual – to move across the Persian-speaking world and to find employment at the Deccan courts. This movement, Emma J. Flatt argues, was facilitated by the existence of a shared courtly disposition. Engagement in courtly skills such as letter-writing, perfume-making, astrological divination, performing magic, sword-fighting and wrestling thus became a route to both worldly success and ethical refinement. Using a diverse range of treatises, chronicles, poetry and letters, Flatt unpicks the ways this challenged networks of acceptable behaviour and knowledge in the Indo-Islamicate courtly world – and challenges the idea of perpetual hostility between Islam and Hinduism in Indian history.

Source: The Courts of the Deccan Sultanates | Cambridge University Press

Emma J. Flatt is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The Scythians

Cunliffe, Barry. 2019. The Scythians: Nomad warriors of the steppe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brilliant horsemen and great fighters, the Scythians were nomadic horsemen who ranged wide across the grasslands of the Asian steppe from the Altai mountains in the east to the Great Hungarian Plain in the first millennium BC. Their steppe homeland bordered on a number of sedentary states to the south – the Chinese, the Persians and the Greeks – and there were, inevitably, numerous interactions between the nomads and their neighbours. The Scythians fought the Persians on a number of occasions, in one battle killing their king and on another occasion driving the invading army of Darius the Great from the steppe.
Relations with the Greeks around the shores of the Black Sea were rather different – both communities benefiting from trading with each other. This led to the development of a brilliant art style, often depicting scenes from Scythian mythology and everyday life. It is from the writings of Greeks like the historian Herodotus that we learn of Scythian life: their beliefs, their burial practices, their love of fighting, and their ambivalent attitudes to gender. It is a world that is also brilliantly illuminated by the rich material culture recovered from Scythian burials, from the graves of kings on the Pontic steppe, with their elaborate gold work and vividly coloured fabrics, to the frozen tombs of the Altai mountains, where all the organic material – wooden carvings, carpets, saddles and even tattooed human bodies – is amazingly well preserved.

Source: The Scythians – Barry Cunliffe – Oxford University Press

Barry Cunliffe is Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology, University of Oxford.

Studies on Pre-Islamic Iran and on Historical Linguistics

Lurje, Pavel (Ed.). 2019. Proceedings of the 8th European Conference of Iranian Studies. Held on 14–19 Sep. 2015 at the State Hermitage Museum and Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences, in St Petersburg. Vol. 1: Studies on Pre-Islamic Iran and on Historical Linguistics. St. Petersburg: The State Hermitage Publishers.

The volume incorporates articles presented by the participants of the Eighth European Conference of Iranian Studies (in St Petersburg 14–19 September 2015) which werefocused on Pre-Islamic Iran and on historical linguistics. The collected papers mirrorthe wide scope of Iranian studies of the present day: from business documents of Tumshuqin Xinjiangto those of the Syrian wars of the early Sasanians, from the etymology ofthe place-name Sudakto the pottery assemblages of Sistan of the Achaemenian period.The volume is addressedto Iranologists and specialists in neighbouring fields.

Table of Contents
  • Agustí ALEMANY: “Alans and Sogdians in the Crimea: on nomads, traders and Namengeschichten”
  • Pooriya ALIMORADI: “Zand-i Wahman Yašt: the New Persian version”
  • Pavel BASHARIN: “Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto‑Iranian language contacts with Proto-North Caucasian”
  • Julian BOGDANI and Luca COLLIVA: “Activities of the Italian archaeological mission in Iraqi Kurdistan: a preliminary report”
  • CHING Chao-jung: “The four cardinal directions in Tumshuqese”
  • Emily J. COTTRELL, Micah T. ROSS: “Persian astrology: Dorotheus and Zoroaster, according to the medieval Arabic sources (8th – 11th century)”
  • Iris COLDITZ: “Women without guardianship”
  • Matteo COMPARETI: “The ‘eight divinities’ in Khotanese paintings: local deities or Sogdian importation”
  • Maryam DARA: “The comparison between the subjects and written patterns of Urartian and Old Persian royal inscriptions”
  • Matteo DE CHIARA: “Describing Pashto verbal morphology”
  • Bruno GENITO: “Building no 3 in Dahāne-ye Gholāmān, Eastern Iran (Sistan): an Achaemenid religious puzzle”
  • Sebastian HEINE: “Anmerkungen zur historischen Phonologie und Lexik des Kurdischen (Kurmanji)”
  • Camilla INSOM: “Reshaping sacred landscape: notes on Sufi cult in Sangaw village shrines”
  • Thomas JÜGEL: “The development of the object marker in Middle Persian”
  • Nargis J. KHOJAEVA: “Again to the question of localization of Avestan Airiianəm-Vaējō”
  • Mateusz M. KŁAGISZ: “Middle Persian Yōšt ī Fr(i)yān as Proppʼs folk-tale”
  • Jiulio MARESCA: “The pottery from Dahane-ye Gholaman (Sistan): the state of art”
  • Jafar MEHR KIAN, Vito MESSINA: “The sanctuary and cemetery of Shami: research of the Iranian-Italian joint expedition in Khuzistan at Kal-e Chendar”
  • S. Fatemeh MUSAVI: “Pahlavi and Sanskrit interpretations of Gāϑā 31, an analysis”
  • OGIHARA Hirotoshi: “Tumshuqese imperfect and its related forms”
  • Filip PALUNČIĆ: “Ossetic historical phonology and North-Eastern Iranian anthroponomastics from the North Pontic region 1st – 5th c. CE”
  • Gabriele PUSCHNIGG: “Functional variation in pottery repertoires from the Parthian and Sasanian period”
  • Chiara RIMINUCCI: “Parokṣakámá hi devàh „denn die Götter lieben das Mysteriöse“. Zur Komposition des Bahrām-Yašt”
  • Ehsan SHAVAREBI: “Sasanians, Arsacids, Aramaeans: Ibn al-Kalbī’s account of Ardashīr’s Western campaign”
  • Fahimeh TASALLI BAKHSH: “Speech representation in Yashts; a narratological approach”

The administrative geography of the Sassanian Empire

Rika Gyselen, La géographie administrative de l’empire sassanide: les té́moignages épigraphiques en moyen-perse, Res Orientals, XXV (Bures-sur-Yvette: Groupe pour l’étude de la civilisation du Moyen-Orient, 2019).

Since the publication of the Géographie administrative de l’empire sassanide. Les témoignages sigillographiques in 1989, new administrative and official seals, two coin types and an inscription on silverware have appeared. This book contains all the epigraphic attestations in Middle-Persian on the territorial administration in the Sasanian Empire in the form of a catalogue raisonné with the names of regional kingdoms, provinces, regions and kust, as well as the names of administrations and administrators.

See the Table of Contents.

India in the Persianate age

Eaton, Richard Maxwell. 2019. India in the Persianate age, 1000-1765. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Protected by vast mountains and seas, the Indian subcontinent might seem a nearly complete and self-contained world with its own religions, philosophies, and social systems. And yet this ancient land and its varied societies experienced prolonged and intense interaction with the peoples and cultures of East and Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa, and especially Central Asia and the Iranian plateau.

Richard M. Eaton tells this extraordinary story with relish and originality, as he traces the rise of Persianate culture, a many-faceted transregional world connected by ever-widening networks across much of Asia. Introduced to India in the eleventh century by dynasties based in eastern Afghanistan, this culture would become progressively indigenized in the time of the great Mughals (sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries). Eaton brilliantly elaborates the complex encounter between India’s Sanskrit culture—an equally rich and transregional complex that continued to flourish and grow throughout this period—and Persian culture, which helped shape the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal Empire, and a host of regional states. This long-term process of cultural interaction is profoundly reflected in the languages, literatures, cuisines, attires, religions, styles of rulership and warfare, science, art, music, and architecture—and more—of South Asia.

New Perspectives in Seleucid History, Archaeology and Numismatics

Roland, Oetjen (ed.). 2019. New perspectives in Seleucid history, archaeology and numismatics: Studies in honor of Getzel M. Cohen (Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 355). Berlin: De Gruyter.

Dedicated to Getzel M. Cohen, a leading expert in Seleucid history, this volume gathers contributions on Seleucid history, archaeology, numismatics, political relations, policy toward the Jews, Greek cities, non-Greek populations, peripheral and neighboring regions, imperial administration, economy and public finances, and ancient descriptions of the Seleucid Empire. The reader will gain an international perspective on current research.

Festschrift Mehdi Rahbar

Moradi, Yousef (ed.). 2019. Afarin Nameh: Essays on the Archeaology of Iran in Honour of Mehdi Rahbar. Tehran: The Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT).

Table of Contents

  • Antigoni Zournatzi: “Travels in the East with Herodotus and the Persians: Herodotus
  • (4.36.2-45) on the Geography of Asia”
  • Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis: “From Mithradat I (c. 171-138 BCE) to Mithradat II (c. 122/1-91
  • BCE): the Formation of Arsacid Parthian Iconography”
  • D.T. Potts and R.P. Adams: “The Elymaean bratus: A Contribution to the Phytohistory of
  • Arsacid Iran”
  • Vito Messina and Jafar Mehr Kian: “Anthrosol Detection in the Plain of Izeh”
  • Rémy Boucharlat: “Some Remarks on the Monumental Parthian Tombs of Gelālak and Susa”
  • Edward J. Keall: “Power Fluctuations in Parthian Government: Some Case Examples”
  • Bruno Genito: “Hellenistic Impact on the Iranian and Central Asian Cultures: The Historical Contribution and the Archaeological Evidence.”
  • Pierfrancesco Callieri: “A Fountain of Sasanian Age from Ardashir Khwarrah”
  • Behzad Mofidi-Nasrabadi: “The Gravity of New City Formations: Change in Settlement Patterns Caused by the Foundation of Gondishapur and Eyvan-e Karkheh”
  • St John Simpson: “The Land behind Rishahr: Sasanian Funerary Practices on the Bushehr Peninsula”
  • Barbara Kaim: “Playing in the Temple: A Board Game Found at Mele Hairam, Turkmenistan”
  • Eberhard W. Sauer, Hamid Omrani Rekavandi, Jebrael Nokandeh and Davit Naskidashvili: “The Great Walls of the Gorgan Plain Explored via Drone Photography”
  • Jens Kröger: “The Berlin Bottle with Water Birds and Palmette Trees”
  • Carlo G. Cereti: “Once more on the Bandiān Inscriptions”
  • Gabriele Puschnigg: “East and West: Some Remarks on Intersections in the Ceramic Repertoires of Central Asia and Western Iran”
  • Matteo Compareti: ““Persian Textiles” in the Biography of He Chou: Iranian Exotica in Sui-Tang China”
  • Ritvik Balvally, Virag Sontakke, Shantanu Vaidya and Shrikant Ganvir: “Sasanian Contacts with the Vakatakas’ Realm with Special Reference to Nagardhan”
  • Antonio Panaino: “The Ritual Drama of the High Priest Kirdēr”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “Khusrow Parwēz and Alexander the Great: An Episode of imitatio Alexandri by a Sasanian King”
  • Maria Vittoria Fontana: “Do You Not Consider How Allāh … Made the Sun a Burning Lamp?”
  • Jonathan Kemp and John Hughes: “Analysis of Two Mortar Samples from the Ruined Site of a Sasanian Palace and Il-Khānid Caravanserai, Bisotun, Iran”

An Introduction to Avestan

Cantera, Alberto & Céline Redard. 2019. Introduction à l’avestique récent. Sociedad de Estudios Iranios y Turanios.

Cette introduction à l’avestique récent a pour but de fournir un outil d’apprentissage aux étudiants et à toute personne intéressée par l’avestique. Le livre est composé de 4 parties: 1. 17 leçons constituées en général de 5 sous-parties : a. phonétique, b. morphologie nominale et / ou verbale, c. syntaxe, d. vocabulaire (à mémoriser et d’aide à la lecture), et finalement e. exercices avec à chaque leçon un extrait de manuscrit pour habituer l’apprenant à lire dans l’écriture originale; 2. Un glossaire avestique-français; 3. Les tableaux de morphologies nominale et verbale apparaissent à nouveau en fin de volume pour faciliter une vision d’ensemble, l’apprentissage et la recherche d’une forme à élucider; 4. le corrigé des exercices.