Category Archives: Articles

Imagining the Ancients in the Iranian Popularization of Pre-Islamic History

Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2016. The present in the mind’s past: Imagining the ancients in the Iranian popularization of pre-Islamic history. In Sonja Brentjes, Taner Edis & Lutz Richter-Bernburg (eds.), 1001 distortions. How (not) to narrate history of science, medicine, and technology in non-Western cultures (Bibliotheca Academica – Reihe Orientalistik 25) 97–106. Herausgeber: Würzburg: Ergon.

 

The Cults of Alexander the Great in the Greek Cities of Asia Minor

Kholod, Maxim. 2016. “The Cults of Alexander the Great in the Greek Cities of Asia Minor“. Klio. Beiträge zur Alten Geschichte 98(2), 495-525.

 

The paper deals with the cults of Alexander the Great in the Greek cities of Asia Minor (on the coast and the nearby islands). The author argues that although some cults in these cities could be set up after the Macedonian king’s death, at least most known to us (or supposed) cults of Alexander in them were instituted still in his lifetime, in all likelihood, in 324-323 BC. It seems that the cults of the king were established only in a certain, probably far from overwhelming, number of the Greek cities of Asia Minor in this period. In turn, it should be believed that the do ut des principle played an important role when these cities introduced such cults. At the same time, their institution was also caused by a sense of gratitude of the inhabitants of the Greek cities of Asia Minor to Alexander for the liberation of them from the unpopular power of both the Persians and pro-Persian oligarchs or tyrants and, in addition, for those general and particular benefactions that were given by the Macedonian king to the communities.

Persianisms: The Achaemenid Court in Greek Art

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2017. Persianisms: The Achaemenid court in Greek art,380–330 BCE. Iranian Studies 50(1). 1–22.

The Persians held sway over the Greek imagination for more than 200 years. The image of Persia shifted in that time from xenophobic hostility, caused through fear of the encroaching presence of the Persian empire, through to curious acceptance of its dominance. Much study has been given to the formative decades of the construction of the Persian “Other” in Greek art, but the fourth-century image of Persia has remained relatively unexplored. This paper demonstrates how Greek artists of the period 380–330 BCE fixated on the life and accomplishments of the court of the Achaemenid Great Kings and argues that instead of offering an orientalist clichéd view of Persian life, it attempted to understand and disseminate bone fide Iranian images of court society.

The history of the Parthians in the Geography of Strabo

Dabrowa, Edward . 2015. “L’ histoire des Parthes dans la Geographie de Strabon“, Studi Ellenistici 29, 285-303.

Signaling Theory and Dress in Period IVb at Hasanlu Iran

Cifarelli, Megan. 2017. Costly choices: Signaling theory and dress in period IVb at Hasanlu Iran. Cifarelli, Megan & Laura Gawlinski (eds.), What shall I say of clothes? Theoretical and methodological approaches. Boston: The Archaeological Institute of America.

A growing body of work on dress in antiquity has probed more deeply the embodied experience of wearers, the relational aspect of the way dress communicates, and the role of dress as an active element in, rather than a passive reflection of, the construction of identity. It remains challenging, though, to interpret material evidence that shows abrupt changes in
dress practice. This article explores the potential of costly signaling theory, borrowed from evolutionary archaeology, for interpreting the gendered, militaristic dress-related artifacts introduced in the burials of the early first millennium B.C.E. at Hasanlu, Iran, a period of external threatand internal upheaval. Rather than characterizing these changes as simply evidence of “militarization” in a time of crisis, this article argues that a seemingly unwearable type of dress item participated in an effective, mutually beneficial form of communication by which men and women negotiated identity and power at the site.

Proto-Elamite writing in Iran

Desset, François. 2016. “Proto-Elamite writing in Iran“, ArchéoNil 26, 67-104.

In the Near East, the most ancient writing systems currently known in the world appeared at the end of the 4th millennium BC: the proto-cuneiform writing in Southern Mesopotamia and the proto-elamite writing on the Iranian Plateau. Both used for administrative and accounting purposes, these writing systems displayed important parallels, such as the numerical systems and the numerical value signs, and dissimilarities since most of their signs differed from each other. Because of the apparent break in the scribal tradition on the Iranian Plateau around 2800 BC, the proto-elamite writing did not give birth to any offspring which could have helped us in its decipherment, contrary to the proto-cuneiform writing and its heir, the cuneiform writing. For this reason, although it is known for more than one century thanks to the French excavations in Susa, the proto-elamite writing remains still largely undeciphered and only the shared elements with the proto-cuneiform writing (such as the numerical systems) are finally well understood.

Iranian and Jewish Apocalyptics

Agostini, Domenico. 2016. On Iranian and Jewish apocalyptics, again. Journal of the American Oriental Society 136 (3). 495–505.

The relations between the Iranian, in particular Zoroastrian, and Jewish apocalyptic literature as well as their mutual influences have, since the beginning of the twentieth century, constituted a rich and exciting battlefield for the scholars of
these respective traditions. This article aims to present some topics concerning the definition of Iranian apocalyptics and its relation with its Jewish counterpart, as well as to establish an updated starting point for a new scholarly debate.

Disability in Ancient Persia

Coloru, Omar. 2017. Ancient Persia and silent disability. In Christian Laes (ed.), Disability in antiquity, 61–74. London: Routledge.

Did disability ever exist in ancient Persia? This provocative question is justified by the scarcity of the documentary evidence the historians face when dealing with the pre-Islamic societies of the Iranian world. As a matter of fact, the tradition of theses populations have always been pre-eminently oral. The rock inscription of Darius I at Behistun, which represents the first text written in the Old Persian language, was only composed in the 6th century BCE, when the nearby Mesopotamian world could boast a diverse textual tradition dating back three millennia. […] Given the nature of the evidence, it is easy to feel discouraged about the possibility of having a clear and definite picture of the condition of the disabled in the Persian world. Nevertheless, we can try to explore the issue by surveying the available documents and comparing and contrasting them with external evidence from the classical world.

Omar Coloru, is an associate member of the laboratory ArScAN HAROC (Nanterre). His main research interests include Hellenistic history, history of Iran and pre-Islamic Central Asia, and the relations between the Greco-Roman and the Iranian worlds.

Germanicus, Artabanos II of Parthia, and Zeno Artaxias in Armenia

Olbrycht, Marek J. 2016. Germanicus, Artabanos II of Parthia, and Zeno Artaxias in Armenia. klio 98(2). 605–633.

The aim of this study is to analyse the Roman-Parthian relations under Artabanos II and Tiberius, and the political role played by Armenia, focusing on the agreement between the Roman prince Germanicus and Artabanos II. A scrutiny
of military and diplomatic measures taken by Rome, Parthia, and minor kings of Kappadokia, Pontos and Armenia suggests a new perspective of the Roman and Parthian policies towards Armenia under Tiberius and Artabanos II. Artabanos IIʼs
triumph over Vonones compelled Rome to revise her policy toward Parthia. Artabanos agreed on a compromise with the ruler of Kappadokia Archelaos, a Roman client king, that involved installing Archelaosʼ stepson, Zeno, on the throne of
Armenia. Germanicusʼ intervention in Armenia in A.D. 18 led to the conclusion of a compromise settlement between Rome and the Parthians, securing over a decade of peace between the two powers. Zeno Artaxiasʼ coronation at the hands of Germanicus
was commemorated by the issue of a set of meaningful silver coins.

Manpower Resources and Army Organisation in the Arsakid Empire

Stucco relief of an infantry soldier, from the Iranian Parthian Dynasty (247 BC - 224 AD), Zahhak castle, Haštrūd, Eastern Āzarbāiğān, Iran. Āzarbāiğān Museum, Tabriz (Iran)
Stucco relief of an infantry soldier, from the Iranian Parthian Dynasty (247 BC – 224 AD), Zahhak castle, Haštrūd, Eastern Āzarbāiğān, Iran. Āzarbāiğān Museum, Tabriz (Iran)

Olbrycht, Marek J. 2016. “Manpower Resources and Army Organisation in the Arsakid Empire“. Ancient Society 46, 291-338.

As the territory of the Arsakid state (248 BC – AD 226) increased in size, the Parthians were able to expand their demographic and economic base. This led to an increase in the size and military might of the armed forces. The military strength and effectiveness of the army were key factors in determining the Parthians’ political relations with their neighbours, especially the Seleukid empire, Rome, the Caucasus lands, the nomadic peoples of the Caspian – North Caucasus region, and the peoples of Central Asia. From the 1st century bc onward the Arsakids had a military potential of almost 300,000 soldiers. This mobilisation strength mirrors the size of the Arsakid armed forces in a defensive stance, including the royal forces, Parthian national army, garrisons, and mercenaries. As a number of units were not suitable for offensive operations, one may assume that the power of an offensive army might not have exceeded half of the total figure, i.e. about 140,000-150,000. This is slightly more than the figure of 120,000 soldiers which appears as the total for the largest of Arsakid armies.