Category Archives: Books

Die Grenzen des Großkönigs?

Börm, Henning. 2018. Die Grenzen des Großkönigs? Überlegungen zur arsakidisch-sasanidischen Politik gegenüber Rom. In Frank Schleicher, Timo Stickler & Udo Hartmann (eds.), Iberien zwischen Rom und Iran. Beiträge zur Geschichte und Kultur Transkaukasiens in der Antike (Oriens et Occidens 29). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Dreizehn Jahre lang beherrschte Severus Alexander das Reich in tadelloser Weise, soweit es ihn betraf. Im vierzehnten Jahr aber trafen unerwartet Berichte der Statthalter Syriens und Mesopotamiens ein und enthüllten, dass Artaxerxes, der König der Perser, die Parther besiegt und ihr östliches Reich erobert hatte (…). Er blieb nun aber nicht ruhig auf seiner Seite des Tigris, sondern (…) überrannte Mesopotamien und bedrohte Syrien. Er wollte nämlich die ganze Landmasse, die Europa gegenüberliegt und durch die Ägäis und das Marmarameer von ihm getrennt wird, und das ‚Asien‘ genannte Gebiet für das Persische Reich zurückgewinnen. In dem Glauben, diese Gegenden von seinen Vorfahren geerbt zu haben, erklärte er, alle Länder dieses Gebietes, einschließlich Ionien und Karien, seien einst von persischen Statthaltern regiert worden, von der Herrschaft des Kyros, der als erster das Medische zum Persischen Reich gemacht hatte, bis zu Dareios, dem letzten Perserkönig, dessen Reich Alexander der Makedone zerstört hatte.

About the book:

Die Geschichte und Kultur Transkaukasiens in der Antike steht im Fokus dieses Bandes, der die neuesten Forschungsergebnisse aus der Alten Geschichte, der Archäologie und der Orientalistik vereint. Ziel ist es, das antike Kaukasien stärker in den Fokus der Forschung zu rücken: Die Region liegt zwar an der Peripherie der alten Welt, stellt zugleich aber auch eine zentrale Kontakt- und Konfliktzone zwischen Rom und Iran dar.

Im ersten Teil des Bandes stehen historische Fragen im Vordergrund, die von Problemen der Chronologie und Herrscherlisten über die Machtausdehnung der Römer und Perser bis zu deren Politik gegenüber den kaukasischen Völkern reichen. Im zweiten Teil geht es um Aspekte der religiösen Entwicklung, insbesondere um die Christianisierung Iberiens (heute Georgien) seit dem vierten Jahrhundert und die Rückwirkung dieser Vorgänge auf die beiden spätantiken Imperien. Der dritte Teil ist den neuesten archäologischen Befunden gewidmet.


The Frawardīn Yašt

Malandra, William W. 2018. The Frawardīn Yašt. Introduction, translation, text, commentary and glossary (Ancient Iran Series 7). Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.
 
From the Preface of this volume:
 
With the encouragement of Professor Touraj Daryaee, I have undertaken a new edition of my old The Fravaši Yašt: Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary, diss. University of Pennsylvania, 1971 [University Microfilms, Ann Arbor]. At the time when I wrote the dissertation I was very much under the influence of W. B. Henning’s “The Disintegration of the Avesta Studies” and the then recent book by I. Gershevitch The Avestan Hymn to Mithra. I expressed my misgivings concerning Henning’s stress-accent theory in my Preface, but was not prepared to tackle the issue, and thus treated the text as if it were prose. In the years since it has become abundantly clear that much of the Yašts were originally composed in verse, as best articulated by K. F. Geldner in his Über die Metrik des jüngeren Avesta (1877). Thus, Part II of the present work is devoted to a study of metrics and their importance for understanding the formation of the Yašts and particularly the Frawardīn. In order to make manifest the structure of Avestan poetry I have laid out the translation and text according to my construction of the Avestan.
 
 

The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands

Javier Álvarez-Mon. 2019. The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands: A Complete Inventory and Analysis (from the Seventeenth to the Sixth Century BC). Eisenbrauns.


The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands documents and analyzes for the first time a corpus of eighteen monumental highland reliefs from the Elamite civilization in ancient Iran, which—hitherto preserved by their remote location and anonymous existence—have recently become imperiled by an influx of tourists and the development of the surrounding landscapes. With this book, Javier Álvarez-Mon aims to safeguard this important part of Iran’s cultural heritage.
The eighteen reliefs presented in this volume are spread across the valley of Izeh/Malamir (Xong-e Azdhar, Shah Savar, Shekaft-e Salman, and Kul-e Farah), the Ghale Tol plain (Qal-e Tul), the Mamasani Fahliyan river region (Kurangun), and the Marvdasht plain (Naqsh-e Rustam). In his analysis of these reliefs, Álvarez-Mon draws from the complementary disciplines of art history and archaeology, giving equal weight to the archaeological context of these artifacts and traditional methods of artistic analysis in order to determine the nature and significance of each artifact’s form and theme. At the same time, the book’s dual emphases on ritual-religious and aesthetic-ecological phenomena respond to the contemporary challenges of the dissociation of human existence from nature and the commodification of the environment on an unsustainable scale, presenting the preservation of this remarkable corpus of monumental art as a matter of urgency.


Richly illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and line drawings, The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands is sure to become an invaluable reference to scholars who study the Elamite and other ancient civilizations.

The Shahnameh: the Persian epic in world literature

Dabashi, Hamid. 2019. The Shahnameh: the Persian epic in world literature. New York: Columbia University Press.

The Shahnameh, an epic poem recounting the foundation of Iran across mythical, heroic, and historical ages, is the beating heart of Persian literature and culture. Composed by Abu al-Qasem Ferdowsi over a thirty-year period and completed in the year 1010, the epic has entertained generations of readers and profoundly shaped Persian culture, society, and politics. For a millennium, Iranian and Persian-speaking people around the globe have read, memorized, discussed, performed, adapted, and loved the poem.

In this book, Hamid Dabashi brings the Shahnameh to renewed global attention, encapsulating a lifetime of learning and teaching the Persian epic for a new generation of readers. Dabashi insightfully traces the epic’s history, authorship, poetic significance, complicated legacy of political uses and abuses, and enduring significance in colonial and postcolonial contexts. In addition to explaining and celebrating what makes the Shahnameh such a distinctive literary work, he also considers the poem in the context of other epics, such as the Aeneid and the Odyssey, and critical debates about the concept of world literature. Arguing that Ferdowsi’s epic and its reception broached this idea long before nineteenth-century Western literary criticism, Dabashi makes a powerful case that we need to rethink the very notion of “world literature” in light of his reading of the Persian epic.

About the Author

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is a founding member of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. Among his most recent books are The World of Persian Literary Humanism (2015) and Persophilia: Persian Culture on the Global Scene (2016).

Interpreting Herodotus

Harrison, Thomas & Elizabeth Irwin (eds.). 2018. Interpreting Herodotus. Oxford University Press.

Charles W. Fornara’s Herodotus. An Interpretative Essay (1971) was a landmark publication in the study of Herodotus. It is well known in particular for its main thesis that the Histories should be read against the background of the Atheno-Peloponnesian Wars during which Herodotus wrote. However, it also includes penetrating discussion of other issues: the relative unity of Herodotus’ work; the relationship between Herodotus’ ethnographies and his historical narrative; and the themes and motifs that criss-cross the Histories, how ‘history became moral and Herodotus didactic’. Interpreting Herodotus brings together a team of leading Herodotean scholars to look afresh at the themes of Fornara’s Essay, in the light of the explosion of scholarship on the Histories in the intervening years. What does it mean to talk of the unity of the Histories, or Herodotus’ ‘moral’ purpose? How can we reconstruct the context in which the Histories were written and published? And in what sense might the Histories constitute a ‘warning’ for his own, or for subsequent, generations?

Alexander the Great From His Death to the Present Day

Boardman, John. 2019. Alexander the Great From His Death to the Present Day. Princeton University Press.


John Boardman is one of the world’s leading authorities on ancient Greece, and his acclaimed books command a broad readership. In this book, he looks beyond the life of Alexander the Great in order to examine the astonishing range of Alexanders created by generations of authors, historians, and artists throughout the world—from Scotland to China.

Alexander’s defeat of the Persian Empire in 331 BC captured the popular imagination, inspiring an endless series of stories and representations that emerged shortly after his death and continues today. An art historian and archaeologist, Boardman draws on his deep knowledge of Alexander and the ancient world to reflect on the most interesting and emblematic depictions of this towering historical figure.

Some of the stories in this book relate to historical events associated with Alexander’s military career and some to the fantasy that has been woven around him, and Boardman relates each with his customary verve and erudition. From Alexander’s biographers in ancient Greece to the illustrated Alexander “Romances” of the Middle Ages to operas, films, and even modern cartoons, this generously illustrated volume takes readers on a fascinating cultural journey as it delivers a perfect pairing of subject and author.

Persian Literature from Outside Iran

Perry, John (ed.). 2018. Persian Literature from Outside Iran: The Indian Subcontinent, Anatolia, Central Asia, and in Judeo-Persian (History of Persian Literature IX). London: I.B. Tauris.

After the fall of the Sassanian Empire and with it the gradual decline of Middle Persian as a literary language, New Persian literature emerged in Transoxiana, beyond the frontiers of present-day Iran, and was written and read in India even before it became firmly established in cities such as Isfahan on the Iranian plateau. Over the course of a millennium (ca. 900-1900 CE), Persian established itself as a contact vernacular and an international literary language from Sarajevo to Madras, with Persian poetry serving as a universal cultural cachet for literati both Muslim and non-Muslim. The role of Persian, beyond its early habitat of Iran and other Islamic lands, has long been recognized: European scholars first came to Persian via Turkey and British orientalists via India. Yet the universal popularity of poets such as Sa’di and Hafez of Shiraz and the ultimate rise of Iran to claim the centre of Persian writing and scholarship led to a relative neglect of the Persianate periphery until recently. This volume contributes to the scholarship of the Persianate fringe with the aid of the abundant material (notably in Tajik, Uzbek and Russian) long neglected by Western scholars and the perspectives of a new generation on this complex and important aspect of Persian literature.

Table of contents

Introduction: Persian Language and Literature Beyond Iran and Islam (J. R. Perry)

PART 1: PERSIAN LITERATURE IN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT

  • Chapter 1: Establishment of Centers of Indo-Persian Court Poetry (Alyssa Gabbay)
  • Chapter 2: Teaching Of Persian In South Asia (T. Rahman)
  • Chapter 3: The Persian Language Sciences in India (J. R. Perry)
  • Chapter 4: Persian Historiography in India (B. Auer)
  • Chapter 5: Persian Literature of the Parsis in India (J. K. Choksy)
  • Chapter 6: Ismaili Literature in Persian in Central and South Asia (F. Daftary)
  • Chapter 7: Persian Medical Literature in South Asia (F. Speziale)
  • Chapter 8: Inscriptions and Art-Historical Writing (Y. Porter)

PART 2: PERSIAN LITERATURE IN ANATOLIA AND THE OTTOMAN REALMS, POST-TIMURID CENTRAL ASIA, TAJIKISTAN, MODERN AFGHANISTAN; JUDEO-PERSIAN LITERATURE

  • Chapter 9: Persian Literature in Anatolia and the Ottoman Realms (S. Kim)
  • Chapter 10: Persian Literature in Central Asia under Uzbek Rule (Ertugrul Ökten)
  • Chapter 11: Tajik Literature (K. Hitchins)
  • Chapter 12: Persian Literature in Modern Afghanistan (R. Farhadi And J. R. Perry)
  • Chapter 13: Judeo-Persian Literature (Vera Basch Moreen)

Elam and its Neighbors

Mofidi-Nasrabadi, Behzad, Doris Prechel & Alexander Pruß (eds.).(2018). Elam and its neighbors: Recent research and new perspectives. Proceedings of the International Congress Held at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, September 21-23, 2016 (Elamica 8). Hildesheim: Verlag Franzbecker.

The international congress “Elam and its Neighbors. Recent Research and New Perspectives”, which forms the content of the present proceedings volume, was held at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz from September 21st – 23rd 2016. The idea to hold a congress originated from the recent excavations and fieldworks carried out in different Elamite sites. These new research activities yielded interesting archaeological, philological and historical results which offer new perspectives concerning Elamite studies. The aim of the congress was to provide an opportunity to discuss such new results in order to reflect the research strategy and create impulses for further studies in the future.

Table of contents:

  • Badamchi, H: Law in a Multicultural Society: Akkadian Legal Texts from Susa in Comparative Perspective
  • Krebernik, M: Eine neue elamische Beschwörung aus der Hilprecht-Sammlung (HS 2338) im Kontext alloglotter Texte der altbabylonischen Zeit
  • Mäder, M., Balmer, St., Plachtzik, S., Rawyler, N: Sequenzanalysen zur elamischen Strichschrift
  • Malbran-Labat, F., Roche-Hawley, C: On the Unpublished Contracts from Susa (TS A IX-XV)
  • Mofidi-Nasrabadi, B: Who was ˮdMÙŠ.EREN.EŠŠANA.DINGIR.MEŠˮ? 113
  • Prechel, D: Administration in Haft Tappeh 127
  • Tavernier, J: The Functions of Abrupt Spellings in the Elamite Writing System
  • Abdali, N: Glazed Artefacts in Elam and North-Western Iran: A Common Technology?
  • Álvarez-Mon, J: Puzur-Inšušinak, Last King of Akkad? Test, Image and Context Reconsidered
  • Dinarvand, Y., Rezaloo, R., Ba Ahmadi, H: A Neo-Elamite Site South of Susa (Tappeh Konar)
  • Rashidian, E: Dehno and its Environs. A Geoarchaeological Approach to the Elamite Urban Places
  • Wicks, Y: Elam and its Neighbours: A View from Neo-Elamite Mortuary Remains
  • Zalaghi, A: Digging up the Past: Revisiting the Elamite Underground Vaulted Tombs at Tappeh 497 (KS 53?), Susiana Plain

The Alexander Romance: History and Literature

Stoneman, Richard, Krzysztof Nawotka & Agnieszka Wojciechowska (eds.). 2018. The Alexander Romance: History and literature. Barkhuis.

The Alexander Romance is a difficult text to define and to assess justly. From its earliest days it was an open text, which was adapted into a variety of cultures with meanings that themselves vary, and yet seem to carry a strong undercurrent of homogeneity: Alexander is the hero who cannot become a god, and who encapsulates the desires and strivings of the host cultures.
The papers assembled in this volume, which were originally presented at a conference at the University of Wrocław, Poland, in October 2015, all face the challenge of defining the Alexander Romance. Some focus on quite specific topics while others address more overarching themes. They form a cohesive set of approaches to the delicate positioning of the text between history and literature. From its earliest elements in Hellenistic Egypt, to its latest reworkings in the Byzantine and Islamic Middle East, the Alexander Romance shows itself to be a work that steadily engages with such questions as kingship, the limits of human (and Greek) nature, and the purpose of history. The Romance began as a history, but only by becoming literature could it achieve such a deep penetration of east and west.

Ancient Chorasmia, Central Asia and the Steppes

Minardi, Michele & Askold I. Ivantchik (eds.). 2018. Ancient Chorasmia, Central Asia and the Steppes (Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia 24). Vol. 1–2. Leiden: Brill.

Table of Contents:

  • Claude Rapin: “Aux origines de la cartographie: L’empire achéménide sous Darius I et Xerxès”
  • Frantz Grenet: “Was Zoroastrian Art Invented in Chorasmia?”
  • Michele Minardi: “The Oxus Route toward the South: Persian Legacy and Hellenistic Innovations in Central Asia”
  • Fabrizio Sinisi: “Exchanges in Royal Imagery across the Iranian World, 3rd Century BC – 3rd Century AD: Chorasmia between Arsacid Parthia and Kushan Bactria”
  • Gairatdin Khozhaniyazov: “‘Long Walls’ in Ancient Chorasmia and Central Asia”
  • Alison V.G. Betts, Gairatdin Khozhaniyazov, Alison Weisskopf(†) and George Willcox: “Fire Features at Akchakhan-kala and Tash-k’irman-tepe”
  • Fiona J. Kidd: “Rulership and Sovereignty at Akchakhan-kala in Chorasmia”
  • Pavel B. Lurje: “Some New Readings of Chorasmian Inscriptions on Silver Vessels and Their Relevance to the Chorasmian Era”
  • Gian Luca Bonora: “A General Revision of the Chronology of the Tagisken North Burial Ground”
  • Johanna Lhuillier and Julio Bendezu-Sarmiento: “Central Asia and the Interaction between the Iranian Plateau and the Steppes in Late First Millennium BC: Case Study from Ulug-depe in Turkmenistan”
  • Laurianne Martinez-Sève: “Antique Samarkand or Afrasiab II and III: Differentiation, Chronology and Interpretation”
  • Barbara Kaim: “Storage Practices in the Merv and Serakhs Oases of the Partho-Sasanian Period”
  • Irina Arzhantseva and Svetlana Gorshenina: “The Patrimonial Project of Dzhankent: Constructing a National Symbol in the longue durée”