Category Archives: Articles

Some stamp seals of Achaemenid date

Collon, Dominique & John Curtis. 2017. “Some stamp seals of Achaemenid date“, In Y. Heffron, A. Stone and M. Worthington (eds), At the Dawn of History: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of J.N. Postgate, 765-780. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.

This paper discusses a collection of 17 distinctive bronze stamp seals. They are all plaques or tablets of bronze, more or less flat on both surfaces, and square or rectangular in shape. More than half of them have a distinctive ladder-pattern border around the decorated face of the seal. The designs are usually highly stylized but sometimes more naturalistic. These seals may be compared with a stone seal from Nimrud and a silver ring from Kamid el-Loz. They apparently date from the Achaemenid period, 5th-4th century BC, and probably derive mostly from the western part of the Persian empire.

Persepolis Administrative Archives

Annalisa Azzoni, Elspeth R. M. Dusinberre, Mark B. Garrison, Wouter F. M. Henkelman, Charles E. Jones, and Matthew W. Stolper, “PERSEPOLIS ADMINISTRATIVE ARCHIVES,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/persepolis-admin-archive (accessed on 09 June 2017).

Persepolis Administrative Archives, two groups of clay tablets, fragments, and sealings produced and stored by administrative agencies based at Persepolis. The groups are named for their find spots: the Persepolis Fortification Archive  and the Persepolis Treasury Archive. Clay sealings found elsewhere in the fortification wall at Persepolis may stem from other, perhaps related, administrative documents.

Zoroastrian afterlife beliefs and funerary practices

Hintze, Almut. 2017. “Zoroastrian afterlife beliefs and funerary practices“. In: Christopher M Moreman (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Death and Dying86–97, London and New York: Routledge.

Manichaica and Sogdica from Russia

The latest issue of Written Monuments of the Orient (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts; Asiatic Museum; Russian Academy of Sciences), with two articles regarding the Middle Iranian Studies has been published:
Chunakova, Olga Mikhailovna, Federico Dragoni & Enrico Morano. 2017. A forgotten Manichaean Sogdian bifolio in Sogdian script. Written Monuments of the Orient 1(5). 3–25.
The present paper consists of the first edition, translation and commentary of a Manichaean Sogdian bifolio, whose photos are preserved in the Nachlass of Academician Carl H. Salemann at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, RAS (St. Petersburg). The present location of the bifolio is unknown. One joining fragment has been found in the Berlin Turfan collection during the preliminary work on this edition. Two relatively long portions of Manichaean didactic treatises are extant and do not correspond to any known text. The first (I) is a Lehrtext on the duties of Manichaean monks living in a monastery. The second (II) contains the fourth and part of a fifth question, followed by answers, of a catechetical text concerning the fate of the body and of the soul after death.
Benkato, Adam. 2017. Sogdian letter fragments in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, St. Petersburg. Written Monuments of the Orient 1(5). 26–39.
Among the Sogdian fragments from Turfan preserved in the IOM collections are a handful of epistolary texts. A new edition of these fragments is presented here as part of the author’s ongoing project on Sogdian letters from Turfan.

Achaemenid Visual Representations of Royal Figures

Erica Ehrenberg, “Achaemenid Visual Representations of Royal Figures,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2017, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/achaemenid-visual-reps (accessed on 16 May 2017).

Visual representations of Achaemenid kings, while indebted to established Mesopotamian iconographic conventions, betray distinct understandings of sovereignty. Royal reliefs, glyptic and molded bricks are highly modeled, a trait that has been attributed to the influence of Greek carvers but could readily have been a further development of Late Babylonian stylistic precedent.

 

Picturing Pasargadae: Visual Representation and the Ambiguities of Heritage in Iran

Mozaffari, Ali. 2017. “Picturing Pasargadae: Visual Representation and the Ambiguities of Heritage in Iran“, Iranian Studies 50(4), 601-634.

This paper probes the relationship between visual representations and visitation practices at Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Iran. Presenting a systematic analysis of publicly available online images of Pasargadae, the paper examines the complex relationship between the place and its visual representations. Through analysis, the paper elaborates on a sense of intimacy that, while grounding Pasargadae, is also a potential common ground in pre-Islamic heritage in which the Iranian state and society could at once meet and contest versions of identity. Examining this relationship facilitates reflections into both heritage and the peculiarities of its visual representation in the Iranian context.

Archaeological Discoveries at Tillya–tepe and Parthia’s Relations with Bactria

Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2016. “Archaeological Discoveries at Tillya–tepe and Parthia’s Relations with Bactria“, Parthica 18.

A number of studies have been published on a variety of aspects of the Tillya-tepe necroplis, its cultural associations and ethnic interpretations. However, the determination both of its date and origin, as well as of the ethnicity of the nomads who established the necroplis has proved an extremely controversial issue. A closer examination is needed of the coins and the attributes of power discovered in the furnishings of the Tillya-tepe graves. The necropolis should be seen in the context of Parthian history in the 40s and 50s A.D., when during the reigns of Vardanes, Gotarzes II and Vologases I the clans of Bactria engaged in the Parthian domestic conflict. Taking the historical developments into account, it seems reasonable to reduce the time interval for the death of the prince of Tillya-tepe to ca. A.D. 41-53, when the Sakas and other peoples of the north-eastern marches of Parthia were taking an active part in the battle of the Parthian giants.

The genetic legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India

Lopez, Saioa, Mark G Thomas, Lucy van Dorp, Naser Ansari-Pour, Sarah Stewart, Abigail L Jones, Erik Jelinek, Lounes Chikhi, Tudor Parfitt, Neil Bradman, Michael E Weale & Garrett Hellenthal. 2017. The genetic legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India: Insights into population structure, gene flow and selection. bioRXiv.

This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed.

Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest extant religions in the world, originating in Persia (present-day Iran) during the second millennium BCE. Historical records indicate that migrants from Persia brought Zoroastrianism to India, but there is debate over the timing of these migrations. Here we present novel genome-wide autosomal, Y-chromosome and mitochondrial data from Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians and neighbouring modern-day Indian and Iranian populations to conduct the first genome-wide genetic analysis in these groups. Using powerful haplotype-based techniques, we show that Zoroastrians in Iran and India show increased genetic homogeneity relative to other sampled groups in their respective countries, consistent with their current practices of endogamy. Despite this, we show that Indian Zoroastrians (Parsis) intermixed with local groups sometime after their arrival in India, dating this mixture to 690-1390 CE and providing strong evidence that the migrating group was largely comprised of Zoroastrian males. By exploiting the rich information in DNA from ancient human remains, we also highlight admixture in the ancestors of Iranian Zoroastrians dated to 570 BCE-746 CE, older than admixture seen in any other sampled Iranian group, consistent with a long-standing isolation of Zoroastrians from outside groups. Finally, we report genomic regions showing signatures of positive selection in present-day Zoroastrians that might correlate to the prevalence of particular diseases amongst these communities.

Source: The genetic legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India: Insights into population structure, gene flow and selection. | bioRxiv

The Taking of the wāž and the Priestly College in the Zoroastrian Long Liturgy

Cantera, Alberto. 2016. The taking of the wāž and the priestly college in the Zoroastrian long liturgy. Journal Asiatique 304(1), 47–63.

Treasury Secretary at Persepolis

Stolper, Matthew W. 2017. From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 6 The Dossier of Šarbaladda, Treasury Secretary at Persepolis. ARTA: Achaemenid Research on Texts and Archaeology 001. 1–33.

Since Hallock 1969 made available the first large sample of administrative documents from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, efforts to characterize the organization and operations of the institution that produced the Archive have sometimes noticed a man named Šarbaladda, called a ‘treasurer’ and perhaps a ‘scribe in the treasury’ in PF 1947:17 and 19. A growing sample of Elamite Fortification documents, now about
three times as large, allows reconsideration of his name, titles, location, status and work.