Category Archives: Articles

Three Papyri Revisited

Weber, Dieter. 2018. Three Pahlavi papyri revisited. Sasanika Papyrological Studies , No. 2.

Weber revisits three Pahlavi papyri from the period of Sasanian occupation of Egypt (619–628 CE).

The Parthians at the margins of the empire

In this issue of L’Histoire, entitled Les mondes d’Alix and dedicated to the graphic novel series Les voyages d’Alix, specialists of antique history explore various aspects relating to the world and time of the novels. The historian Giusto Traina writes on the Parthians.

Traina, Giusto. 2018. Les Parthes aux marges de l’empire. L’Histoire 6. 66–71.

Shamans of Ancient Iranian Nomads

Yatsenko, Sergey. 2017. Shamans of Ancient Iranian Nomads: Artifacts and Iconography. In Gheorghiu Dragoş, Emilia Pásztor, Herman Bender, George Nash (eds.), Archaeological Approaches to Shamanism: Mind-Body, Nature, and Culture. 243-262. Cambridge Scholars publishing.

The interpretation of depictions in petroglyphs belonging to the Bronze Age in South Siberia as shamanic ones is debatable. Obviously, cultic attributes belonging to men were not removed from barrows 2 and 5 in Pazyryk. Their series can be compared with complexes (known to ethnologists) belonging to shamans of Iranian peoples. Such elements of practicing sequential shamanic rituals as divination, use of musical instruments, entering into a trance state, summoning patron spirits and their “feeding”, exorcism of evil spirits can be reconstructed.

Middle Persian Papyri, Ostraca and Parchments: An Introduction

Zeini, Arash. 2018. Middle Persian papyri, ostraca and parchments: An introductionSasanika Papyrological Studies , No. 1.

This essay discusses the state of Middle Persian papyrological, ostraca and parchments studies since its beginning to the present. Dr. Zeini presents a history of the discovery of the Sasanian papyri from Egypt in the nineteenth century, to the new archival finds on the Iranian Plateau which sheds light on the legal and economic history of late antique Iran.

This introductory article is the first issue in the newly launched Sasanika Papyrological Studies and will be followed by a revision of three papyri by Dieter Weber.

Scythian Strategy or Open Pitched Battle

Kleymeonov, Alexander Anatolevich. 2017. Scythian strategy or open pitched battle: Choice of strategy by the Persian command in 334 BCMan In India 97 (22), 219-227.

The article is devoted to the analysis of the Persian command’s plans to repel Alexander the Great’s invasion into Asia Minor. The main objective is to consider the information from the ancient sources related to Memnon of Rhodes’ proposal to apply the ” scorched earth ” tactic against the advancing Alexander’s army, to analyze this plan for feasibility and to identify the reasons for rejection of Memnon’s plan by the Persian satraps and commanders. The research was undertaken based on the principle of historism. A multi-faceted approach to the ancient narrative sources, methods of comparative historical analysis, content analysis, and the historical reconstructive method have been used. As a result, it was determined that the Persians knew well the features of the ” Scythian strategy ” and applied the ” scorched earth ” tactic both before and after Alexander’s invasion. However, Persian satraps and commanders rejected Memnon’s proposal at the council at Zeleia and adopted the open pitched battle. The reasons include numerous shortcomings and unfeasibility of Memnon’s plan, the positive sides of which were greatly exaggerated by ancient historians, who openly sympathized with Memnon of Rhodes and were critical towards the Persians.

The Elamite Royal Orchestra from Madaktu (653 BC)

Alvarez-Mon, Javier. 2017. The Elamite Royal Orchestra from Madaktu (653 BC)Elamica 7: 1-34.

Contents: §1. Prelude; §2. The Royal Elamite Orchestra from Madaktu; §2.1. Instruments: horizontal harps, angular harps, double pipes, a drum, hand clapping and singing; §2.2. People: Musicians and Singers; §3. Allegro ma non troppo: Madaktu 653 BC, the Royal Orchestra in Historical Context. §4. From Madaktu to Assyria: Cacophonies at the Heartland of the Empire; §4.1. The Assyrian Royal Orchestras from Nineveh (Room S1); §4.2. Foreign Orchestras in Assyria; §5. Requiem 612 BC: Royal Orchestras and the Fall of Nineveh.

First alabastron with Aramaic inscription in Persian period

Qahéri, Sépideh & Kevin Trehuedic. 2017. Premier alabastron d’époque perse à inscription araméenne (MNI 218/9). Arta 2017.002.

The Coherence of Yasna

Zoroastrian fire ceremony.

Ahmadi, Amir. 2017. On the coherence of Yasna: A critical assessment of recent arguments. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 1-26.

In recent years a number of scholars have proposed more or less detailed schemas of the formation of the Zoroastrian ritual. These schemas offer accounts of the arrangement of the texts in the liturgy, the process of its formation, and even its function from an endogenous perspective. One way or another, they argue that the official Zoroastrian liturgy is an integrated ritual with a coherent text, and that the function of the ritual and the intention behind the arrangement of the texts can be determined by means of philological, literary and comparative analyses. The questions of formation and meaning of the Zoroastrian liturgy these scholars have placed on the agenda are important not only for the study of Zoroastrianism but also for the history of religions and ritual theory. I consider their accounts with respect to the texts they invoke and the methods they use, and show that their arguments suffer from fatal flaws.

Avestan Textile Terms

Andrés-Toledo, Miguel Ángel. 2017. Sasanian exegesis of Avestan textile terms. In Gaspa, Salvatore, Cécile Michel & Marie-Louise Nosch (eds.), Textile terminologies from the Orient to the Mediterranean and Europe, 1000 BC to 1000 AD, 397–403. Lincoln, NE: Zea Books.


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The Administrative Division of the 13th Satrapy of Achaemenid Persia in the Reign of Darius II

Khorikyan, Hovhannes. 2017.  The Administrative Division of the 13th Satrapy of Achaemenid Persia in the Reign of Darius II. Metamorphoses of History, Scientific Almanac 10: 174-180.

The Babylonian document BE. X.107 dated by the period of Darius II contains some very important information which is connected to the administrative division of the Achaemenid Empire. Shamesh/Iltammešbarakku who was the governor of the people of Urashtu (Urartu) and Milidu, is mentioned in the document. Urashtu-Urartu corresponds with Armenia and Milidu-Melitine, and when it was mentioned with the latter,
was an indivisible part of Satrapic Armenia, and Herodotus’ account proves this. Therefore, it can be said that Milidu is mentioned separately because it later became the center of Pactyica after Darius I’s administrative reforms; it was also one of the centers of the 13th satrapy which remained part of Armenia, despite the new administrative changes. Its ruler, the
satrap, continued having the title of “Governor of the People of Urashtu and Milidu (in a broad sense, Pactyica)”. Therefore, one can state that Melitine and its outlying regions, being to the west of the Euphrates where the territory of Armenia Minor would be established in the future, were an indivisible part of the country known as Armina-Armenia, during the entire period of Achaemenid reign.