Category Archives: Books

The Iranian expanse

Canepa, Matthew. 2018. The Iranian expanse: Transforming royal identity through architecture, landscape, and the built environment, 550 BCE-642 CE.  Oakland, California: University of California Press.

The Iranian Expanse explores how kings in the ancient Iranian world utilized the built and natural environment–everything from royal cities and paradise gardens, to hunting enclosures and fire temples–to form and contest Iranian cultural memory, royal identity, and sacred cosmologies over a thousand years of history. Although scholars have often noted startling continuities between the traditions of the Achaemenids and the art and architecture of medieval or Early Modern Islam, the tumultuous millennium between Alexander and Islam has routinely been downplayed or omitted. The Iranian Expanse delves into this fascinating period, examining royal culture and identity as something built and shaped by strategic changes to architectonic and urban spaces and the landscape of Western Asia. Canepa shows how the Seleucids, Arsacids, and Sasanians played a transformative role in developing a new Iranian royal culture that deeply influenced not only early Islam, but also the wider Persianate world of the Il-Khans, Safavids, Timurids, and Mughals

Cultural and linguistic relations within the Achaemenid Empire

ÁLVAREZ-PEDROSA, Juan Antonio , Flavia POMPEO & Maria Carmela BENVENUTO (eds.). 2017. Del Indo al Egeo. Relaciones culturales y lingüísticas en el interior del Imperio aqueménida, Madrid: Guillermo Escolar Editor.

This book is a product of the project entitled «Indios y Griegos en la corte de los Aquemenidas. Analisis de un contacto cultural (IGCA) – Indians and Greeks in the Achaemenid Court. A Cross-cultural Analysis (IGAC)», coordinated by Juan Antonio Álvarez-Pedrosa Núñez (referentia FFI2013-41023-P, sponsored as part of the ‘Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación 2013-2016’).

Here is the Spanish abstract:

Los estudios que conforman este volumen abarcan un rango muy variado de contactos culturales y lingüísticos que se produjeron en el interior del Imperio aqueménida. La estructura descentralizada de su administración favoreció todo tipo de contactos. Igualmente lo hizo el reconocimiento por sus gobernantes de su carácter multilingüe, multinacional y multirreligioso y la flexibilidad con la que gobernaron todas estas complejas realidades.

El Imperio aqueménida contaba con núcleos particularmente activos en su vida cultural. Uno estaba constituido por las capitales del Imperio: Susa, Ecbátana, Persépolis, Pasargadas y Babilonia, donde radicaban la lengua propia de la realeza y la aristocracia, el antiguo persa, que coexistía con lenguas como el acadio. En Anatolia, se configura un núcleo cultural importante en las capitales de las satrapías más occidentales, Sardes y Dascilio, con una influencia fuerte de la cultura griega. Parece claro que al Oriente se va creando un núcleo bactro-céntrico, con una importancia especial de la ciudad de Bactra.

También es cierto que el uso del arameo como lengua franca de la administración y el comercio facilitó enormemente el cáracter descentralizado y flexible del gobierno aqueménida y, sin duda, pavimentó el camino para la difusión del griego en el periodo helenístico.

En definitiva, se trata de in mundo cultural de una riqueza y complejidad sin parangón, que puede dar lugar a sucesivos hallazgos científicos que nos permitirán conocerlo más y mejor.

Source: Guillermo Escolar Editor. 

For the table of contents, see here.

Bibliographia Manichaica Selecta: Selected Works for Manichaean Studies

Shokri-Foumeshi, Mohammad. 1397 š [2018]. ketābšenāsī-ye moṭāleʿāt-e mānavī: šenāḫt-e możuʿī-ye manabeʿ-o maʾāḫeẕ [Bibliographia Manichaica Selecta. Selected Works for Manichaean Studies]. Tehran: Ṭahūrī.
Manichaeism is an antique religion founded by the prophet Mani (276/277-216), during the reign of Šāpūr I in Persia in the 3rd century. The Manichaean Church from the beginning was committed to an enthusiastic missionary activity in an endeavor to convert the world. Mani encouraged the translation of his writings into other languages and organized an widespread mission agenda.
This comprehensive bibliography comprises the works focused on the selected works of Manichaean studies, includng religious studies, languages and thier linguistic analysis or editions of texts.
You can doenload the TOC of this volume here.

Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients

Kleber, Kristin, Georg Neumann & Susanne Paulus (eds.). 2018. Grenzüberschreitungen. Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des alten Orients. Festschrift für Hans Neumann zum 65. Geburtstag am 9. Mai 2018 (DUBSAR 5). Münster: Zaphon Verlag. Unter Mitarbeit von Christin Möllenbeck.

Vierzig Beiträge in deutscher, englischer und französischer Sprache sind dem Assyriologen Hans Neumann (Universität Münster) gewidmet. Korrespondierend mit den breit gefächerten Forschungen des Jubilars bieten sie einen aktuellen Überblick über Themen der Assyriologie, der Vorderasiatischen Archäologie und der Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients.

With contributions by Bruno Jacobs and Daniel Potts on Achaemenids and Elamites, respectively.

Continue reading Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des Alten Orients

Cosmic, cultic and social spaces in Early Zoroastrianism

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2017. Raumkonzeptionen im früheren Zoroastrismus. Kosmische, kultische und soziale Räume (Iranica, GOF III/NF 14). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Space, like time, is one of the basic categories of our thinking. Their concepts do not remain constant in different cultures or in changing periods, which is why dealing with a historical cultural phenomenon always requires a review of these categories in their specific culture and time. Based on the oldest linguistic and architectural evidence of Iran from the 12th to the 4th century BC, for the first time Kianoosh Rezania offers a comprehensive study of space concepts in Zoroastrianism in ancient Iran.
Based on current and historical theories of space, the Zoroastrian spaces are divided into cosmic, cultic and social spaces. The depiction of the cosmic spaces describes spatial abstractions in ancient Iranian languages as well as Zoroastrian boundary principles. Rezania examines the coordinate systems that ancient Iranians used for orientation in space and how they transformed their cognitive maps into text. This also includes the portrayal of the Zoroastrian worldview according to their older texts. At the intersection of cosmic and cultural spaces, there are transcendent spaces that contain, on the one hand, utopian spaces for communication with gods, some of which are written by poets. Since the study does not rule out dynamics and change processes in the ritual domain, reconstructions of Zoroastrian ritual surfaces in the Avestan period are presented without the inclusion of recent materials. In addition, the spatially represented social structure of the Avestan society and their spatial symbolic orders are presented.
For the table of contents of this volume visit here.

Studies on the History of Rationality in Ancient Iran

König, Götz. 2018. Studien zur Rationalitätsgeschichte im älteren Iran. Ein Beitrag zur Achsenzeitdiskussion (Iranica 26). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Although the idea of ​​a Euro-Asiatic Axial Age can be traced back to the pioneer Iranian philologist Anquetil Duperron, ancient Iran plays in the 20th-century axle-time theory founded by Karl Jaspers, which revolves around the comprehension and explanation of ‘rationality’ usually only a minor role.
In his investigations of the ancient Iranian history of rationality, Götz König firtsly points out which theory-immanent factors in Jaspers’ basic text On the Origin and Aim of History (1949) may have favored this forgetting. Sample analyzes show how, through minimal changes in the ritual, a change in the constellation of mental faculties, or the replacement of a metaphysical concept with a legal concept of order, ways (in the ancient East as well as then in Western Iran) are opened up Align center categories. A concluding study of the dialectics of the Axial Age shows how the period of the Achaemenids (6th-4th century BC) may in various ways be regarded as the actual Axis time of Iran, but ultimately fails to meet its own rational standards and wrong.
See the table of contents and the introduction of the volume here.
Table of Contents
  • Zur Einleitung
  • Besichtigung der Jaspers’schen Elemente einer Theorie der Achsenzeit
  • Die minime Abweichung Zu einer indo-iranischen Ritualdifferenz und ihren Folgen
  • Daēnā, Xratu und das Moment des Schauens Wissenserwerb im älteren und mittleren Zoroastrismus
  • Gefügtes – Gesetztes. Überlegungen zur Genese von Darius’ manā dāta– „mein Gesetz“
  • Die Dialektik der Achsenzeit Von der Objektwerdung des Subjektes im achämenidischen Iran

Their Evil Rule Must End!

Agostini, Domenico. 2017. Their evil rule must end! A commentary on the Iranian Bundahišn 33:17–28. In Hagit Amirav, Emmanouela Grypeou and Guy Stroumsa (eds.), Apocalypticism and eschatology in late antiquity: Encounters in the Abrahamic religions, 6th–8th Centuries, 21–41. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.

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 (Das Mittelalter. Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung. Beihefte 8), 23–42. Boston/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.

Sasanian seals: Owners and Reusers

Seal of Weh-dēn-Šābuhr Ērānanbaragbed (Gyselen 2017)

Gyselen, Rika. 2017. Sasanian seals: Owners and reusers. In Ben van den Bercken & Vivian Baan (eds.), Engraved gems: From antiquity to the present (Papers on Archaeology of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities 14), 85–92. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

The majority of Sasanian seals are anonymous and anepigraphic. Some are engraved with an inscription, sometimes a personal name or the name of an institution. This information allows seal owners to be identified. It can be provided by:

A. Sigillographic data, that is, data intrinsic to the seal itself. This can be epigraphic and/or iconographic.

B. Textual data in a document with a sealed clay bulla still attached.

Seals were sometimes reused by subsequent owners; on some seals this reuse can be traced.

Interrelations of Religious Judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam

Sadeghi, Fatemeh. 2018. Sin of the woman. Interrelations of religious judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam (Islamkundliche Untersuchungen 336). Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag.

Since the 1920s, the so-called »return to the roots«, has become a hege­monic discourse in Iran. Whereas the Pahlavi regimes (1925–1979) propa­gated the myth of the lost idyll of pre-Islamic Iran repre­sen­ting them­selves as the true inhe­ri­tors of those monar­chies, the Isla­mists adopted a respec­tive approach in regard to Islam.
As a result, a similar fairy­tale was made about the early Islamic community. Such claims, as it were, are not so much about the past as they are about the present. So is this study.
By delving into the past, it ques­tions the wide­s­p­read nost­algic notions cons­i­de­ring the pre-Islamic era as a lost utopia, wherein women were free from the restric­tions »imposed by Islam«. In point of fact such past is a fabri­ca­tion. In the majo­rity of cases, there­fore, the revival projects invent tradi­tions to legiti­mize current political agendas.

Continue reading Interrelations of Religious Judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam