Category Archives: Books

Forgotten origins of modern humanities

From the book’s webpage: ‘The humanities today face a crisis of relevance, if not of meaning and purpose. Understanding their common origins—and what they still share—has never been more urgent’.

Turner, James. 2014. Philology: The forgotten origins of the modern humanities. Princeton University Press.

Many today do not recognize the word, but “philology” was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing not only the study of Greek and Roman literature and the Bible but also all other studies of language and literature, as well as religion, history, culture, art, archaeology, and more. In short, philology was the queen of the human sciences. How did it become little more than an archaic word? In Philology, the first history of Western humanistic learning as a connected whole ever published in English, James Turner tells the fascinating, forgotten story of how the study of languages and texts led to the modern humanities and the modern university.

For more information, see here.

The early Islamic world

This very interesting volume has an article by Jairus Banaji On the Identity of Shahrālānyōzān in the Greek and Middle Persian Papyri from Egypt:

Schubert, Alexander & Petra Sijpesteijn (eds.). 2014. Documents and the history of the early Islamic world. Leiden: Brill.

Historians have long lamented the lack of contemporary documentary sources for the Islamic middle ages and the inhibiting effect this has had on our understanding of this critically important period. Although the field is richly served by surviving evidence, much of it is hard to locate, difficult to access, and philologically intractable. Presenting a mixture of historical studies and new editions of Greek, Arabic and Coptic material from the seventh to the fifteenth century C.E. from Egypt and Palestine, Documents and the History of the Early Islamic World explores the untapped wealth of documentary sources available in collections around the world and shows how this exciting material can be used for historical analysis.

For more information, see here.

Middle Persian and Parthian hymns in the Turfan Collection

Durkin-Meisterernst, Desmond (ed.). 2014. Miscellaneous hymns: Middle Persian and Parthian hymns in the Turfan Collection (Berliner Turfantexte 31). Brepols Publishers.

This is an edition of a large number of fragments of Middle Persian and Parthian Manichaean hymns in the Berlin Turfan Collection.  M. Boyce in the register of her 1960 Catalogue of the Iranian Manuscripts in Manichaean script in the German Turfan Collection identified fragments of hymns ‘to the Third Messenger’ (group 44); ‘Parthian hymns written in couplets, unclassified’ (group 58) and ‘Hymns, unclassified, including poems’ (group 81). Though some of these fragments have been published in the meantime and others are very small, this yields more than 250 previously unpublished fragments, many of considerable size. The fragments are presented in diplomatic edition together with a transcription and translation into English. Since most of the hymns are abecedarian they are presented as far as possible in strophic form. An extensive introduction, notes, a complete glossary and facsimiles of joined fragments accompany the edition.

For more information, see the publisher’s website.

Extraction and control

Michael Kozuh, Wouter F. M. Henkelman, Charles E. Jones & Christopher Woods (eds.). 2014. Extraction & control: Studies in honor of Matthew W. Stolper (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 68). Chicago: The Oriental Institute.

Matthew Wolfgang Stolper began working for the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary in 1978 and became full professor in the Oriental Institute 1987, focusing on Neo-Babylonian and Middle Elamite. Matt has worked tirelessly to raise the necessary funding, to assemble a team of scholars, to promote the importance of the Persepolis Fortification Archive to academic and popular audiences, and most significantly, to concisely, passionately, and convincingly place the Persepolis Archives in their Achaemenid, ancient Near Eastern, and modern geo-political contexts. The twenty-six papers from Stolper’s colleagues, friends, and students show the breadth of his interests.

Download the book here.

Rayy: Origins and the Mongol invasion

Rante, Rocco. 2014. Rayy: from its origins to the Mongol invasion. Leiden, Boston: Brill.

This book offers a new history of the ancient city of Rayy. Based on the results of the latest excavations on the Citadel and the Shahrestan (the political and administrative nucleus of the city in all periods), the study of historical and geographical texts and on surveys carried out between 2005 and 2007 by the author and the Iranian archaeologist, Ghadir Afround, the complete occupation sequence of the city, from its foundation in the Iron Age and the Parthian reconstructions (2nd to 1st centuries BC), up to the Mongol invasions and rapid depopulation in the 13th century CE, comes to light.

For more information, see here.

Iran: A very short introduction

Ansari, Ali. 2014. Iran: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Iran: A VSIThis Very Short Introduction presents a radical reinterpretation of Iranian history and politics, placing the Islamic Revolution in the context of a century of political change and social transformation. By considering the various factors that have contributed towards the construction of the idea of Iran and the complex identity of Iranians themselves, Ali Ansari steers a clear path towards a more realistic understanding for us all.

See here for more information.

The ancient world in an age of globalization

This is an important publication and the ancient Iranian world is represented through contributions by Panaino, Sadovski and Gariboldi.

Geller, Markham (ed.). 2014. Melammu: The ancient world in an age of globalization (Proceedings 7). Edition Open Access.

The present Melammu volume extends from Greece to India, with articles on Phrygia and Armenia, also viewing texts from ancient Israel, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. The globalization described in this volume extends over language barriers and literatures, showing how texts as well as goods can travel between societies and regions. This collection of papers offer new insights and perspectives into connections between the Mediterranean World, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Persia and India.

The book is available for download.

Cosmopolitanism in the Tang dynasty

Since most of this week’s posts relate to Eastern Iranian regions, I thought I would also post this announcement for a forthcoming publication by Valenstein, who has previously published Cultural Convergence in the Northern Qi Period: A flamboyant Chinese ceramic container. The forthcoming volume was already announced in 2012, but publication seems to now be imminent:

Valenstein, Suzanne. 2014. Cosmopolitanism in the Tang dynasty: A Chinese ceramic figure of a Sogdian wine-merchant. Los Angeles: Bridge21 Publications. Distributed by Transaction Publishers in Piscataway, NJ.

The Hellenistic settlements in the east

Cohen, Getzel. 2013. The Hellenistic settlements in the east from Armenia and Mesopotamia to Bactria and India.

Through the conquests of Alexander the Great, his successors and others, Greek and Macedonian culture spread deep into Asia, with colonists settling as far away as Bactria and India. In this book, Cohen provides historical narratives, detailed references, citations, and commentaries on all the Graeco-Macedonian settlements founded (or refounded) in the East.

For more information, see here.

The Hellenistic Far East

Mairs, Rachel. 2014. The Hellenistic Far East: Archaeology, language, and identity in Greek Central Asia. California: University of California Press.

Significant and original, The Hellenistic Far East will highlight Bactrian studies as an important part of our understanding of the ancient world.

For more information, see here.