Category Archives: Books

The Collected Writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli

Tafażżolī, Aḥmad. 1398 š [2019]. Maqālāt-e Aḥmad Tafażżolī [The collected writings of Ahmad Tafazzoli]. (Ed.) Žāle Āmuzgār. Tehran: Toos Publications.

The collection includes Aḥmad Tafażżolī’s published Persian scholorly articles on various subjects of ancient and middle Iranian studies, Iranian philology as well as Zoroastrian studies in two sections and 472 pages. The first sections comprises 55 articles and the second section is devoted to his reviews and contains 19 reviews and critical seurvays, edited by Zhaleh Amuzgar.

Aḥmad Tafażżolī (1316 š/1937-1375 š/1997) was a prominent scholar and philologist in the field of Middle Iranian studies. His works deal with lexicography and the edition of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) texts and Iranian mythology, most of which, regretfully now lost. His doctoral dissertation on Dēnkard IX is published recently posthumously. He left nearly a dozen books, more than a hundred articles, and many book reviews, which those in Persian are gathered and edited in this volume.

The table of contents of this volume can be seen here.

L’Orient est son jardin

Gondet, Sébastien & Ernie Haerinck (eds.). 2018. L’Orient est son jardin: Hommage à Rémy Boucharlat (Acta Iranica 58). Leuven: Peeters.

Le présent volume regroupe 36 articles signés par 49 auteurs et rédigés en hommage à la carrière de Rémy Boucharlat, directeur de recherche émérite au CNRS et spécialiste de l’archéologie du monde iranien et des pourtours du Golfe Persique. Ses nombreuses et importantes contributions ont servi de point d’appui aux spécialistes réunis ici (archéologues, historiens, épigraphistes et historiens de l’art) pour traiter de l’archéologie et de l’histoire des civilisations qui se sont succédé dans cette vaste aire géographique, entre le premier millénaire avant notre ère et le premier millénaire après. Une grande partie des contributions traite de l’archéologie de l’Iran et plus particulièrement de l’époque achéménide qui, depuis ses premières recherches à Suse au cours des années 1970, fait l’objet d’un intérêt constant de la part de Rémy Boucharlat. Les périodes plus anciennes, de l’âge du Fer, et plus récentes, parthes et sassanides, sont également abordées. L’ensemble des articles témoigne de la richesse des thématiques et des terrains que Rémy Boucharlat a explorés, et continue à explorer, ainsi que d’une démarche d’étude des sociétés orientales passées résolument pluridisciplinaire dont il est un des principaux moteurs.

The Persianate World: The Frontiers of a Eurasian Lingua Franca


Green, Nile (ed.). 2019. The Persianate world: The frontiers of a Eurasian lingua franca. Oakland, California: University of California Press.

Persian is one of the great lingua francas of world history. Yet despite its recognition as a shared language across the Islamic world and beyond, its scope, impact, and mechanisms remain underexplored. A world historical inquiry into pre-modern cosmopolitanism, The Persianate World traces the reach and limits of Persian as a Eurasian language in a comprehensive survey of its geographical, literary, and social frontiers. From Siberia to Southeast Asia, and between London and Beijing, this book shows how Persian gained, maintained, and finally surrendered its status to imperial and vernacular competitors. Fourteen essays trace Persian’s interactions with Bengali, Chinese, Turkic, Punjabi, and other languages to identify the forces that extended “Persographia,” the domain of written Persian. Spanning the ages of expansion and contraction, The Persianate World offers a critical survey of both the supports and constraints of one of history’s key languages of global exchange.


Middle Persian and Parthian hymns in the Turfan Collection

Leurini, Claudia. 2017. Hymns in honour of the hierarchy and community, installation hymns and hymns in honour of Church leaders and Patrons. Middle Persian and Parthian hymns in the Turfan Collection. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

This volume presents texts in the Iranian languages, Middle Persian and Parthian, preserved in the Berlin Turfan Collection. These hymns are predominantly in Middle Persian. They were identified by M. Boyce in the registers of her Catalogue of the Iranian Manuscripts in Manichaean Scripts in the German Turfan Collection as “Hymns in Honour of the Hierarchy” and “Installation Hymns, Hymns in Honour of Church Leaders and Patrons”. Few of the fragments have been published, and mainly in editions dating back to the time of their discovery. New and updated readings, transliterations, translations into English, notes and commentaries are provided here for all the fragments identified by Boyce. The Introduction provides a description of the main features of the hymns to the Manichaean elect hierarchy, to the local hierarchies, and to the hierarchies of the Hearers, as well as of the installation hymns, and those in honour of high clerics and lay patrons. Reflections are provided on the use of cryptography in the Manichaean texts in Manichaean script, and about the learning habits inside scriptoria in Manichaean monasteries in Central Asia, the existence of which has long been suspected. The volume contains a complete glossary and bibliography, as well as facsimiles of joined fragments.

Source: Hymns in Honour of the Hierarchy and Community, Installation Hymns and Hymns in Honour of Church Leaders and Patrons

Irano-Judaica VII

Rubanovich, Julia & Geoffrey Herman (eds.). 2019. Irano-Judaica VII: Studies Relating to Jewish Contacts with Persian Culture throughout the Ages. Vol. VII. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East.
The volume includes twenty-three papers, arranged in five thematic parts, which reflect the variety of subjects the volume encompasses. Part One deals with the topics of law, ritual and eschatology in Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Part Two is devoted to the textual patterns and transmission in Avestan and Middle Persian sources. Jewish-Iranian historical and literary interrelations through the centuries, including the literary perception of Jews in Persian literature and Iranian folklore, are the focus of Part Three. The articles in Part Four highlight specific patterns of permutations that Jewish, Zoroastrian, Manichaean, and Christian motifs, themes and concepts undergo while migrating from one religious and social milieu to another. The fifth and the last section of the volume is devoted to Judaeo-Persian language and literature: a Hebrew text and early Judaeo-Persian translation of a large portion of the seventh chapter of Jeremiah are presented and analyzed for the first time; the Jewish reception of a Persian classical text is discussed, and the literary legacy of two medieval Judaeo-Persian poets, Shāhīn and ʿImrānī, is further investigated.
Table of Contents
Part One: Law, Ritual and Eschatology in Zoroastrianism and Judaism
  • Almut Hintze: “Defeating Death: Eschatology in Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity”
  • Maria Macuch: “A Pahlavi Legal Term in Jesubōxt’s Corpus Iuris”
  • Benjamin Jokisch: “Cultural Intertwinedness and the Problem of Proving Reception. A Case Study on Late Antique Foundations: ruwānagān, heqdēsh, piae causae, and waqf
  • Yaakov Elman: “Samuel’s Scythe-handle: Sasanian Mortgage Law in the Bavli”
  • David Brodsky: “‘Thought Is Akin to Action’: The Importance of Thought in Zoroastrianism and the Development of a Babylonian
    Rabbinic Motif”

Part Two: Textual Patterns and Transmission in Avestan and Middle Persian Sources

  • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: “Observations on the Form of Avestan Texts in the Context of Neighboring Traditions”
  • Mihaela Timuș: “Les raisonnements taxinomiques dans le Dēnkard 3″
  • Dieter Weber: “Christlich-jüdische Spuren in Pahlavi-Dokumenten des 7. Jhs. n. Chr.”
  • Yaakov Elman: “The Hērbedestān in the Hērbedestān: Priestly Teaching from the Avesta to the Zand”

Part Three: Jewish-Iranian Historical and Literary
Interrelations through the Centuries

  • Domenico Agostini: “Luhrāsp and the Destruction of Jerusalem: A Note on Jewish-Iranian Syncretism”
  • Geoffrey Herman: “Back to Bustanay: The History of a Legend”
  • Julia Rubanovich: “On Representations of Jews in Medieval Persian Epic Poetry”
  • Orly R. Rahimiyan: “The Image of the Jew in Iranian Folklore”

Part Four: Texts and Motifs: Between Interaction and Polemics
Reuven Kiperwasser “ʻThree Partners in a Personʼ: The Metamorphoses of a Tradition and the History of an Idea”

  • Yishai Kiel: “The Usurpation of Solomon’s Throne by Ashmedai (b.Giṭ. 68a-b): A Talmudic Story in Its Iranian and Christian Contexts”
  • Sergey Minov: “Jews and Christians in Late Sasanian Nisibis:
    The Evidence of the Life of Mār Yāreth the Alexandrian
  • Samuel Thrope: “Therefore He Himself is the Demon, Lord of Hell: On Manichaean and Zoroastrian Anti-Judaism”

Part Five: Judaeo-Persian Language and Literature

  • Gilbert Lazard: “La dialectologie du persan préclassique à la lumière des nouvelles données judéo-persanes”
  • Shaul Shaked: “A Fragment of the Book of Jeremiah in Early Judaeo-Persian”
  • Vera B. Moreen: “Reflections on a Judaeo-Persian Manuscript of Rūmī’s Mathnavī
  • Nahid Pirnazar: “Observations on the Epic Legacy in Judaeo-Persian Poetry”
  • Vera B. Moreen: “Shāhīn’s Interpretation of Shira and Haʾazinu

Hebrew Section

  • Alex Tal: “Between Jews and Gentiles in Talmudic Babylonia: Reading between the Lines”

Cosmology, Law, and Elites in Late Antiquity

Scheunchen, Tobias. 2019. Cosmology, law, and elites in late antiquity: Marriage and slavery in Zoroastrianism, Eastern Christianity, and Islam (Arbeitsmaterialien zum Orient 32). Baden-Baden: Ergon Verlag.

Can elites use cosmological imagery to sanction marital and slavery practices for their political aspirations? Can interactions between Late Antique legal systems be thought beyond “borrowings?” This work studies legal writings from the Zoroastrian, East Syrian, and Islamic traditions arguing that Late Antique matrimonial and slavery practices were significantly informed by cosmological imagery and repeatedly brought in line with the elites’ political aspirations. It suggests that these legal traditions should be thought in a shared epistemic framework to account for the changes and meaningfulness of legal concepts and institutions and cannot simply be reduced to a narrative of borrowings. Instead, this book shows that interactions between Late Antique legal systems were more complex and characterized by patterns of negotiation and competition mirroring the various entanglements of the Late Antique citizen’s life.

An Ascetic Miscellany

Sims-Williams, Nicholas (ed.). 2017. An ascetic miscellany: The Christian Sogdian manuscript E28. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

The Christian Sogdian manuscripts in Syriac script which were found at a Central Asian outpost of the “Church of the East”, the monastery at Bulayïq in the Turfan oasis, and are now preserved in the Berlin Turfan collection, include a large number of fragments in a distinctive handwriting which have been catalogued under the designation “E28”. Through his choice of texts to translate or to copy the scribe demonstrates his interest in the practice and traditions of monasticism, originating with St Anthony and the other “Desert Fathers”, the solitaries and monks of the Egyptian desert, and transplanted to Mesopotamia and Iran, according to legend, by Mār Awgen (Eugenius). In addition to works whose Syriac sources have been identified, such as passages from the spiritual writings of Šemʿon d-Ṭaibuteh, Isaac of Nineveh and Dādišoʿ Qaṭrāyā, as well as from the life of Mār Awgen, “E28” contains a number of unidentified texts, also no doubt translated from Syriac, many of which deal with aspects of the ascetic life. This volume contains an edition and translation of all the texts, most of them previously unpublished, together with a commentary, glossary and 35 plates. An appendix contains critical editions of some of the parallel Syriac passages.

From Liturgy to Pharmacology

Sims-Williams, Nicholas. 2019. From liturgy to pharmacology. Christian Sogdian texts from the Turfan Collection. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

Containing a variety of texts ranging from liturgy to pharmacology via hagiography, calendars and ascetical works by Isaac of Nineveh, this volume completes the publication of all known Christian Sogdian texts.

This volume completes the publication of the Christian Sogdian texts of the Berlin Turfan Collection begun by F. W. K. Müller in 1907. Several Syriac texts are also included, in particular a series of liturgical texts in Syriac with Sogdian rubrics (edited in collaboration with J. F. Coakley).

The texts edited here are mostly short but extremely varied and interesting. The Syriac liturgical fragments are some of the earliest surviving witnesses to the liturgy of the “Church of the East”, though the Sogdian rubrics which accompany them show that those who performed them were not native speakers of Syriac. Other texts connected with the liturgy include a Sogdian version of the Gloria in excelsis and a text explaining how to calculate the date of Easter or Lent. Hagiographical texts include fragments of the martyrdoms of St George and of Cyriacus and Julitta as well as part of the so-called “Six Books” on the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Two pharmacological fragments (edited in collaboration with Dieter Maue) show familiarity with Indian medicine, while a “prayer-amulet” belongs rather to a Syriac tradition. Finally, a chapter contributed by Adrian Pirtea contains the re-edition of a well-preserved folio identified by him as a Sogdian version of a work by Isaac of Nineveh.

The Historiography of Alexander the Great

Nawotka, Krzysztof, Robert Rollinger, Josef Wiesehöfer & Agnieszka Wojciechowska (eds.). 2019. The Historiography of Alexander the Great (Classica et Orientalia 20). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.


This volume tries to tackle the most serious problem facing modern Alexander the Great studies: that of inadequate sources. Its principal interest is in surviving ancient continuous accounts (Diodorus, Curtius Rufus, Plutarch, Arrian, and Justin), which are at least three hundred years younger than Alexander and in many ways one-sided in their Greek bias, often promoting the view of Alexander within the narrow bounds of a Western conqueror. The papers in this volume deconstruct these accounts and search for sources used by their authors, principally in narrative of eye-witnesses and other authors of the first generation after Alexander, including his court historian Callisthenes and his companions Onesicritus, Aristobulus, and Ptolemy. They search for fragments of ancient literary works known from papyri and for shadowy accounts created on the Persian side like the “mercenaries’ source”. Some papers look into propaganda patterns of the age of Alexander and their connections with clichés of Egyptian literature. Some investigate a parallel tradition on the last will of Alexander, enshrined in I Maccabees, and best known from the Alexander Romance. Finally, papers in this volume examine post-classical rendition of Alexander: Jewish from the Talmud to Josippon and Byzantine, composed of separate textual traditions of various ancient authors, with Plutarch taking pride of place.

Not the Queen Šābuhrduxtag but the Goddess Anāhitā

Goddess Anāhitā at the investiture of Narseh (c. 293-303), Naqš-e Rostam, Fārs, Iran

Tanabe, Katsumi. 2018. Not the Queen Šābuhrduxtag but the goddess Anāhitā: Identification of the female figure in the investiture scene of Narseh at Naqsh-i Rustam. Japan Society for Hellnistic-Islam Archaeological Studies 25. 9–26.

The rock-cut relief depicting the investiture scene of the Sasanian King of Kings, Narseh (293-302) at Naqsh-i Rustam in southern Iran has been investigated by many scholars since the beginning of the twentieth century CE . As regards the iconography of this relief, one of a few problems that have not yet gained scholarly consensus is the identification of the female figure depicted on the viewer’s rightmost side of the relief.

Currently there are two major hypotheses as regards the identification. One of them is to identify the female figure as the Zoroastrian goddess of water, Anāhitā (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā). The other is to identify it as the queen of Narseh, Šābuhrduxtag (Shāpuhrdukhtak).