Category Archives: Books

King and court

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2013. King and court in ancient Persia 559 to 331 BCE. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Abstract:

The first Persian Empire (559-331 BCE) was the biggest land empire the world had seen, and seated at the heart of its vast dominions, in the south of modern-day Iran, was the person of the Great King. Immortalized in Greek literature as despotic tyrants, a new vision of Persian monarchy is emerging from Iranian, and other, sources (literary, visual, and archaeological), which show the Kings in a very different light. Inscriptions of Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, and their heirs present an image of Persian rulers as liberators, peace-makers, valiant warriors, righteous god-fearing judges, and law-makers.

Around them the Kings established lavish and sophisticated courts, the centres of political decision-making and cultural achievements in which the image of monarchy was endorsed and advanced by an almost theatrical display of grandeur and power.

This book explores the representation of Persian monarchy and the court of the Achaemenid Great Kings from the point of view of the ancient Iranians themselves and through the sometimes distorted prism of Classical authors.

Empire, authority, and autonomy

Dusinberre, Elspeth. 2013. Empire, authority, and autonomy in Achaemenid Anatolia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Abstract:

The Achaemenid Persian Empire (550–330 BCE) was a vast and complex sociopolitical structure that encompassed much of modern-day Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and included two dozen distinct peoples who spoke different languages, worshipped different deities, lived in different environments and had widely differing social customs. This book offers a radical new approach to understanding the Achaemenid Persian Empire and imperialism more generally. Through a wide array of textual, visual and archaeological material, Elspeth R. M. Dusinberre shows how the rulers of the empire constructed a system flexible enough to provide for the needs of different peoples within the confines of a single imperial authority and highlights the variability in response. This book examines the dynamic tensions between authority and autonomy across the empire, providing a valuable new way of considering imperial structure and development.

Nomadism in Iran

Potts, D. T. 2014. Nomadism in Iran: From antiquity to the modern era. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

For details, see here. Abstract:

A completely new approach to nomadism in Iran, one which rejects the identification of nomads in the archaeological record of the Neolithic and Bronze Age (c. 8000-1200 BC). Emphasizes the fundamental changes brought about by major influxes of nomads from outside the region, beginning in the 11th century.

 

The Sih-Rozag in Zoroastrianism

Raffaelli, Enrico. 2014. The Sih-Rozag in Zoroastrianism: A textual and historico-religious analysis. Routledge.

For details, see here. Abstract:

Focusing on the Avestan and Pahlavi versions of the Sih-rozag, a text worshipping Zoroastrian divine entities, this book explores the spiritual principles and physical realities associated with them.

The Iranian Talmud

Secunda, Shai. 2013. The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in its Sasanian context. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

For the book, see here. Short abstract:

Although the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, has been a text central and vital to the Jewish canon since the Middle Ages, the context in which it was produced has been poorly understood. Delving deep into Sasanian material culture and literary remains, Shai Secunda pieces together the dynamic world of late antique Iran, providing an unprecedented and accessible overview of the world that shaped the Bavli.

Perceptions of Iran

Ansari, Ali (ed.). 2013. Perceptions of Iran: History, myths and nationalism from medieval Persia to the Islamic Republic. London: I.B. Tauris.
For the book, see here. Abstract:
From the Sasanian to the Safavid Empire, and from Qajar Iran to the current Islamic Republic, the history of Iran is one which has been colored by a rich tradition of myths and narratives and shaped by its wealth of philosophers, cultural theorists and political thinkers. Perceptions of Iran dissects the construction of Iranian identity, to reveal how nationalism has been continually re-formulated and how self-perceptions have been carried by Iran’s literary past, in particular the mystical love poetry of Rumi, Sa’adi and Hafez. It traces a long history of encounters with the Western world and tracks Iranian thought from Herodotus’ representation of Cyrus to the Constitutional Movement of the early twentieth century. This book ties together the diverse threads of Iranian intellectual activity that have underpinned social and political movements, spanning Kermani’s writing on ancient Persian history and liberal nationalism, through to the strident anti-Westernism of figures such as Sayed Jamal Al-Afghani and Ayatollah Khomeini.

Persepolis

Mousavi, Ali. 2012. Persepolis: Discovery and afterlife of a world wonder. Boston/Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Persepolis was recently chosen for the 21st “world prize for the book of the year” of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For an interview with the author, see here.

For more on the book, see here. Abstract:

Persepolis: Discovery and Afterlife of a World Wonder presents the first full study of the history of archaeological exploration at Persepolis after its destruction in 330 BC. Based in part on archival evidence, anecdotal information, and unpublished documents, this book describes in detail the history of archaeological exploration, visual documentation, and excavations at one of the most celebrated sites of the ancient world. The book addresses a broad audience of readers ranging from students of the archaeology, history, and art history of ancient, medieval, and modern Iran to scholars in Classical Studies and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.