Category Archives: Books

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.

Ancient settlement systems and cultures in the Ram Hormuz plain

Alizadeh, Abbas. 2014. Ancient settlement systems and cultures in the Ram Hormuz plain, Southwestern Iran: Excavations at Tall-e Geser and regional survey of the Ram Hormuz area (Oriental Institute Publications 140). Chicago: The Oriental Institute. With contributions by Loghman Ahmadzadeh and Mehdi Omidfar, and appendices by John R. Alden, Leah Minc, Jacques Connan, John Zumberge and Kendra Imbus.

For more information see the AWOL announcement. Download the book here.

The Jews of Iran

Houman Sarshar (ed.). 2014. The Jews of Iran: The history, religion and culture of a community in the Islamic world. London: I.B.Tauris

Living continuously in Iran for over 2700 years, Jews have played an integral role in the history of the country. Frequently understood as a passive minority group, and often marginalized by the Zoroastrian and succeeding Muslim hegemony, the Jews of Iran are instead portrayed in this book as having had an active role in the development of Iranian history, society, and culture. Examining ancient texts, objects, and art from a wide range of times and places throughout Iranian history, as well as the medieval trade routes along which these would have travelled, The Jews of Iran offers in-depth analysis of the material and visual culture of this community.

To find out more, see here.

Intangible spirits and graven images

Congratulations to Michael Shenkar for publishing his book, which is already being endorsed by many scholars.

Shenkar, Michael. 2014. Intangible spirits and graven images: The iconography of deities in the pre-Islamic Iranian world. Leiden: Brill.

In Intangible Spirits and Graven Images, Michael Shenkar investigates the perception of ancient Iranian deities and their representation in the Iranian cults. This ground-breaking study traces the evolution of the images of these deities, analyses the origin of their iconography, and evaluates their significance. Shenkar also explores the perception of anthropomorphism and aniconism in ancient Iranian religious imagery, with reference to the material evidence and the written sources, and reassesses the value of the Avestan and Middle Persian texts that are traditionally employed to illuminate Iranian religious imagery. In doing so, this book provides important new insights into the religion and culture of ancient Iran prior to the Islamic conquest.

See here for more.

Wrestling with the Demons

Moazami, Mahnaz. 2014. Wrestling with the Demons of the Pahlavi Widēwdād. Transcription, Translation, and Commentary (Iran Studies 9). Leiden/Boston: Brill.

The Pahlavi Widēwdād (Vidēvdād), The Law (Serving to Keep) Demons Away, a fifth-century Middle Persian commentary on the Avestan Vidēvdād, describes rules and regulations that serve to prevent pollution caused by dead matter, menstrual discharges, and other agents. It recognizes the perpetual presence of the demons, the forces of the Evil Spirit –forces that should be fought through law-abiding conduct. In spite of its formidable textual problems, the commentary provides an invaluable quarry for the rules of the Zoroastrian community through its citation of regulations for the conduct of its members. Many topics are covered, from jurisprudence to penalties, procedures for dealing with pollution, purification, and arrangements for funerals. Viewed together, they provide the reader with an exquisite interlace of a community’s concerns.

See here for more.

Introduction to Avestan

This is an English translation of the introduction, which was first published in 2001 in Spanish.

Martínez, Javier & Michiel de Vaan. 2014. Introduction to Avestan (Brill Introductions to Indo-European Languages I). Leiden/Boston: Brill. Translated from Spanish by Ryan Sandell.

This Introduction to Avestan provides a concise grammar of the Avestan language, the language of the followers of the Iranian prophet Zarathustra. The grammar focuses on spelling, phonology and morphology, but also includes a chapter on syntax. Abundant information on the historical development of the language is included, which renders the grammar very useful for students of Indo-Iranian and Indo-European. Also, a small number of selected Avestan texts is added, with a complete glossary, so that students can practise reading Avestan.

From the book’s description.

See here for more volumes in the series.