Category Archives: Articles

Kujula Kadphises and his title Kushan Yavuga

Cribb, Joe. 2018. Kujula Kadphises and his title Kushan Yavuga (Sino-Platonic Papers 280). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

This paper sets out to examine the use of the term in the Chinese chronicles of the period of the Kushan xihou and in coin and stone inscriptions of Kujula Kadphises to illustrate the function of this title for him and interrogate the contextual evidence from these sources for the meaning of this title and its likely origins.

The grammaticalization of progressive aspect in Persian

Davari, Shadi & Mehrdad Naghzguy-Kohan. 2017. The grammaticalization of progressive aspect in Persian. In Kees Hengeveld, Heiko Narrog & Hella Olbertz (eds.), The Grammaticalization of Tense, Aspect, Modality and Evidentiality: A Functional Perspective (Trends in Linguistics Studies and Monographs 311), 163–190. Berlin: De Gruyter.
This paper investigates the development of the Persian lexical verb dâštan ‘have’, which has grammaticalized into an auxiliary verb functioning primarily as a progressive aspect marker in durative situations, and which is currently developing into a prospective marker with achievement verbs. Possessive progressives are a cross-linguistic rarity and deserve attention. We suggest that the progressive function arose through context-induced reinterpretation based on metonymic relations. The resulting reinterpretation of dâštan ‘have’ to ‘ongoingness of a durative event’ represents a conceptual shift, in the form of metaphoric extension, from possessing a physical object to possessing the continuum of an action in a focal point of utterance. We will also illustrate that the progressive’s focus on subjective notions leads to its development as an expression of the speaker’s attitude that does not describe properties of a situation in the extralinguistic world but rather in the subjective conceptualization of the speaker. The auxiliation process of dâštan ‘have’ in Persian will be analyzed based on the Auxiliation Dimensions Model proposed by Davari and Naghzguy-Kohan (forthcoming), which focuses on the force, the source and the degree of auxiliation. We also point out that these changes are in tune with the overall directionality of semantic change in grammaticalization according to Narrog (2012), namely, increase in speaker-orientation.

The Sinicization of Indo-Iranian Astrology in Medieval China

Kotyk, Jeffrey. 2018. The sinicization of Indo-Iranian astrology in medieval China (Sino-Platonic Papers 282). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.

This study explores the introduction and development of foreign systems of astrology in medieval China (Tang to Ming periods), in particular the practice of horoscopy, and how such models were implemented within a Chinese astronomical framework. It is argued that the basic character of such horoscopy was in large part Dorothean, rather than Ptolemaic. It is furthermore demonstrated that Chinese horoscopy was as much an heir to Persian systems of horoscopy as was the Islamicate, a point that has yet to be recognized. The paper also demonstrates the enduring impact of horoscopy within the culture of Chinese divination.

König und Gefolgschaft im Sasanidenreich

Börm, Henning. 2018. König und Gefolgschaft im Sasanidenreich. Zum Verhältnis zwischen Monarch und imperialer Elite im spätantiken Persien. In Wolfram Drews (ed.), Die Interaktion von Herrschern und Eliten in imperialen Ordnungen des Mittelalters (Das Mittelalter. Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung. Beihefte 8), 23–42. Berlin: De Gruyter.

This article examines the relationships between rulers and imperial elites in late antique Sasanian Iran, focusing on the significance and implications of complex groups of followers. Not unlike their Parthian predecessors, the Sasanian kings of the pre-Islamic empire relied on a network of personal relationships with the imperial elite. The magnates (vuzurgān), in turn, had many followers (bandagān) of their own; they were, apparently, often rather independent when residing in their own lands. Still, this does not imply that the late antique Persian monarchy was weak, because the Sasanian kings managed to turn the court into a central location of aristocratic competition where the imperial elite struggled for offices, honors and influence. This allowed the monarch to play off rival individuals and groups against each other – one is tempted here to speak of a “Königsmechanismus” (Norbert Elias), even though the weaknesses of this model are certainly well known. In general, this strategy became problematic only if infighting escalated into civil war. However, the later Sasanians tried to curtail the influence of the vuzurgān by imposing a tax reform, establishing a standing royal army, and creating a new lower nobility (dehgānān) in order to strengthen the power of the central government. The paper demonstrates that, in spite of short-term success, these measures seem to have led to a long-term erosion of loyalty within the kingdom, thus contributing to the triumph of the Arab conquerors in the seventh century CE.

The Qalandar in the Persianate World

Portrait of a Qalandar wearing a primitive fur. Inscription in Persian. First quarter of the 17th century, Deccan. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Dahlén, Ashk P. 2018. The Qalandar in the Persianate world: The case of Fakhrod-din ʿAraqi. In Albrecht Berger & Sergey Ivanov (eds.), Holy fools and divine madmen: Sacred insanity through ages and cultures (Münchener Arbeiten zur Byzantinstik 2), 125–153. Neuried: Ars Una.

The mystical poetry of Fakhrod-din ʿAraqi (d. 1289) has been considered to be unparalleled and he has been celebrated as the most eloquent spokesman of divine love in the history of Persian literature. His literary production is above all distinguished by the depth and audacity of its unbridled esoteric speculations and the intensity and brilliant color of its religious expression. The aim the present article is to examine the Qalandari phenomenon, its spiritual doctrine and practice, in the context of medieval Persia with specific reference to ‛Araqi’s lyrical poetry.

On the evidence of his biography and religious teachings, there can be no doubt about the importance of the Qalandari doctrine for ‛Araqi himself. Reliable information concerning his life reveals that he considered social respect as one of the most dangerous pitfalls on the spiritual path. The quintessence of his notion of piety is man’s absolute nothingness before God and ultimate annihilation in the divine attributes. ‛Araqi’s criticism of conventional piety and excuse of scandalous behavior constitute the central tenet of antinomian Qalandari mysticism: outwardly he behaved in a foolish manner according to the conventional standards of society, but inwardly he pursued a religious ideal, inspired by experience of God’s beauty and majesty. In fact, he is probably the most outspoken poet of the qalandariyāt genre and his poetry is traversed through and through by its paradoxes. Marked by a unique blend of antinomian thematic features and a rich symbolic imagery, his poems preserve a subtle harmony between the possibilities of transcendental and profane allusions. In this respect, he became a perfect model for Persian literature, influencing Hāfez and Sa‛di, undisputed masters of the ghazal, and inspiring many other writers of the following centuries.

The Macedonian Expeditionary Corps in Asia Minor (336–335 BC)

Kholod, Maxim. 2018. The Macedonian Expeditionary Corps in Asia Minor (336–335 BC)Klio. Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte. 100 (2), 407-446.

The article deals with a complex of issues connected with the campaign waged by the Macedonian expeditionary corps in Asia Minor in 336–335 BC. The author clears up the aims set for the advance-guard, its command structure, strength and composition. He also describes the relevant military operations and reveals the reasons both for the Macedonians’ successes in 336 and their failures in 335. The idea is argued that despite the final failures, it is hardly possible to say that the campaign the expeditionary corps conducted ended in its total defeat. Besides, it is noted that those military operations had major significance for Alex-ander’s campaign in Asia Minor in 334, because a number of preconditions for its full success had been created right in their course.

Zoroastrian and Ancient Iranian Astral Science

Brown, David. 2018. The Interactions of Ancient Astral Science. with contributions by : Jonathon Ben-Dov, Harry Falk, Geoffrey Lloyd, Raymond Mercier, Antonio Panaino, Joachim Quack, Alexandra von Lieven, and Michio Yano. Bremen: Hempen Verlag.

Why and when did ancient scholars make the enormous effort to understand the principles and master the mathematics of foreign astral sciences? This work provides a detailed analysis of the invention, development and transmission of astronomy, astrology, astral religion, magic and medicine, cosmology and cosmography, astral mapping, geography and calendrics and their related mathematics and instrumentation in and between Mesopotamia, Egypt, the West Semitic areas, Greece and Rome, Iran, India and China. It considers the available textual evidence from the most ancient times to the seventh century CE. The author has worked the contributions of eight internationally renowned scholars into what amounts to a new history of the oldest sciences. The result is a challenging read for the layperson and a resource for the expert and includes an extensive index to the entire volume. It provides a new typology of cultural interactions and, by describing their socio-political backdrop, offers a cultural history of the region. In particular, astral science in the Hellenistic period west of the Tigris is completely re-evaluated and a new model of the interactions of Western and Indian and Iranian astral sciences is provided.
Two chapters of this book deal with different aspects of Ancient Iranian Astrology and Astronomy. The chapter Iranian Astral Science (P. 456-481) by the main autor himself, which refers to the following subjects:
  • The Elamites
  • The Persians
    • Persian Astral Science (other than the Calendar)
  • The Seleucids
  • Seleucid-Iranian Astral Science
  • The Parthians
    • Parthian Astral Science
    • The Sasanians
And the next chapter:
Panaino, Antonio. 2018. On Iran’s Role in the Transmission of Ancient Astral Science and the Ramifications thereof. Pp. 482–514.
This chapter discusses following subjects:
  • The Problem
  • The Iranian astral divinities and their astronomical role
  • The Stars and the Peg of the Sky
  • The Planets and the Astral Cords of Wind
  • The multicultural legacy of Sasanian astronomy and astrology

Historia I Świat

Issue seven of Historia i Świat (2018) has been published. A number of the contributions relate to Iranian Studies.

Achaemenid Seal and Monumental Art

Drawing of a lenticular seal from Tomb 33, Prosymna. Athens (after Sakellarakis 1982, no. 27)

The recent volume Friedhelm Pedde & Nathanael Shelley (eds.), Assyromania and More. In Memory of Samuel M. Paley (Marru. Studien Zur Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 4), . Münster: Zaphon. contains two chapters of hight interest for Iranian and Achaemenid Studies:

Literacy and Orality in Achaemenid Iran

Kolb, Anne (ed.). 2018. Literacy in ancient everyday life. Berlin ; Boston: Walter de Gruyter.
The purpose of the conference proceedings is to investigate the importance of literacy in the daily lives of ancient people. In addition to the intended utilization of writing and written material, the circumstances of usage as well as various types of users are the focus of the analyzes. The concept of a diversified literacy of different levels of literacy, literacy and numeracy makes it possible to differentiate the usage of everyday writing according to types or categories of uses and to recognize different functions of literacy.
Two chapters from the first part are of special interests for Iranian and Achaemenian Studies:
The contribution aims at pointing out the impact of language(s) and writing system(s), not least of Elamite, Old Persian and Aramaic, in Teispid-Achaemenid Iran in the context of royal pronouncements and administration, and at putting them in relation to those of the neighbouring cultures. In this context, it is also trying to find out which forms of language acquisition and communication can be proven and whether there has been such a thing as a Persian language policy. On the other hand, the fact that Iran has seen decidingly oral cultures up to Late Antiquity and even beyond, apart from the official contexts, raises the question of the media of communication and the afterlife of Teispids and Achaemenids in Iran’s ‘historical’ traditions.
The article examines the place of female literacy within general everyday literacy in the Achaemenid period. Whereas the Achaemenid heartland lacks of sources written by women, we have abundant private correspondence from the other satrapies of the empire (Babylonia, Egypt, Bactria etc.). Therefore the lacuna from the Persis-region is not coincidental but resulting from the specific social structure of the empire with its dominant hegemonic manliness. This prevented a wider spread of literacy and the Achaemenid heartland remained an orally dominated culture with a functional literacy limited to the elite and higher levels of society.