Category Archives: Books

Sasanian Persia

Sauer, Eberhard. 2017. Sasanian Persia: Between Rome and the steppes of Eurasia. Edinburgh University Press.

The Sasanian Empire (3rd-7th centuries) was one of the largest empires of antiquity, stretching from Mesopotamia to modern Pakistan and from Central Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. This mega-empire withstood powerful opponents in the steppe and expanded further in Late Antiquity, whilst the Roman world shrunk in size. Recent research has revealed the reasons for this success: notably population growth in some key territories, economic prosperity, and urban development, made possible through investment in agriculture and military infrastructure on a scale unparalleled in the late antique world.

The author: Eberhard Sauer is Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, having previously taught at the Universities of Leicester and Oxford.

Ancient States and Infrastructural Power

Ando, Clifford & Seth Richardson (eds.). 2017. Ancient states and infrastructural power: Europe, Asia, and America (Empire and After). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

While ancient states are often characterized in terms of the powers that they claimed to possess, the contributors to this book argue that they were in fact fundamentally weak, both in the exercise of force outside of war and in the infrastructural and regulatory powers that such force would, in theory, defend. In Ancient States and Infrastructural Power a distinguished group of scholars examines the ways in which early states built their territorial, legal, and political powers before they had the capabilities to enforce them.

The volume brings Greek and Roman historians together with specialists on early Mesopotamia, late antique Persia, ancient China, Visigothic Iberia, and the Inca empire to compare various models of state power across regional and disciplinary divisions. How did the polis become the body that regulates property rights? Why did Chinese and Persian states maintain aristocracies that sometimes challenged their autocracies? How did Babylon and Rome promote the state as the custodian of moral goods? In worlds without clear borders, how did societies from Rome to Byzantium come to share legal and social identities rooted in concepts of territory? From the Inca empire to Visigothic Iberia, why did tributary practices reinforce territorial ideas about membership?

Source: Ancient States and Infrastructural Power | Clifford Ando, Seth Richardson

Encyclopaedia Iranica – Fascicle 3 of Volume XVI

Image may contain: textFascicle 3 of Volume XVI of the print version of the Encyclopaedia Iranica was published in June of 2017. This segment of the EIr. completes coverage of titles starting with Keg- and proceeds to titles beginning with Kes-.

Fascicle XVI/3 contains the following entries (not including cross-reference entries):

Title Author(s)
Kégl Miklos Sarkozy
Ḵelʿat Willem Floor
Kelidar Mohammad Reza Ghanoonparvar
Kelim (Gelim) Sumru Belger Krody
Kemāḵ Hurivash Ahmadi Dastgerdi and EIr.
Kent Rüdiger Schmitt
Képes András Bodrogligeti
Ḵerad-nāma Dariush Kargar and EIr.
Kerešma Gen’ichi Tsuge
Keriya Alain Cariou
Kerman i. Geography Habib Borjian
Kerman ii. Historical Geography Xavier De Planhol and Bernard Hourcade
Kerman iii. Population Habibollah Zanjani and Mohammad-Hossein Nejatian
Kerman v. History from the Islamic Conquest to the Coming of the Mongols C. Edmond Bosworth
Kerman vii. History in the Safavid Period Rudi Mathee
Kerman viii. History in the Afsharid and Zand Period James M. Gustafson
Kerman ix. History in the Qajar Period James M. Gustafson
Kerman xiv. Jewish Community of Kerman City Nahid Pirnazar and EIr.
Kerman xv. Carpet Industry James M. Gustafson
Kerman xvi. Languages Habib Borjian
Kermanshah i. Geography Habib Borjian
Kermanshah iv. History to 1953 Jean Calmard
Kermanshah vii. Languages and Dialects Habib Borjian
Kermanshah viii. The Jewish Community Nahid Pirnazar
Ḵerqa Erik S. Ohlander
Keš Pavel Lurje
Kešaʾi Dialect Habib Borjian

Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum Iran: A late Sasanian Hoard from Orumiyeh

Akbarzadegh, Daryoosh & Schindel, Nikolaus. 2017. Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum Iran: A late Sasanian Hoard from Orumiyeh. (Veröffentlichungen zur Numismatik 60). Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

The present volume from series “Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum” (SNS) deals with a treasure found in the region of Piran-Shahr in the north-west of Iran in 2007 and is one of the largest and most important collections of coins from Sasanian era which includes a quantity of 1267 drachmas. The collection informs us about not only the history of the coin and money in Iran during the Late Antiquity, but also about the economic history of the Sasanid empire, for which there are hardly any sources. The publication is prepared by a cooperation of the Austrian Academy of Sciences with RICHTO, the Research Institute of ICH (Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization).

Stone Vessels in the Near East during the Iron Age and the Persian Period

Squitieri, Andrea . 2017. Stone Vessels in the Near East during the Iron Age and the Persian Period. (Archaeopress Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology 2). Oxford: Archaeopress.

This book focuses on the characteristics and the development of the stone vessel industry in the Near East during the Iron Age and the Persian period (c. 1200 – 330 BCE). Three main aspects of this industry are investigated. First, the technology behind the manufacture of stone vessels, the tools and techniques, and how these changed across time. Second, the mechanisms of exchange of stone vessels and how these were affected by the changing political landscape through time. Third, the consumption patterns of stone vessels in both elite and non-elite contexts, and how these patterns changed through time. The aim is to evaluate how the formation of new regional states, occurred in the Iron Age I-II, and their subsequent inclusion within large-scale empires, in the Iron Age III and Persian period, transformed the Near Eastern societies by exploring how the stone vessel industry was affected by these transformations. For the period and area under analysis, such a comprehensive study of stone vessels, covering a wide area and connecting this industry to the broader socioeconomic and political landscapes, has never been attempted before.

The Architecture of the Persian Period in the Levant

Khries, Hashem. 2017. The Architecture of the Persian Period in the Levant. Scholar Press.

This book is a comprehensive study of the Levantine architecture in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. The current book is unprecedented in its contents and the manner in which it addresses the subject since it contains all Persian-period sites in the whole Levant -as an integrated entity- that contains building remains. It also handles the Achaemenid impacts – both the direct and indirect ones- on the tradition of the Levantine architecture through conducting a descriptive, analytical and interpretative study of the buildings under consideration. Another perspective adopted here is that of functionally characterizing each excavated context, thus reaching assessments which are not only typologically based. This has resulted in a better understanding of the nature of the social, economic, political, and religious life in the entire Levant.

 

The History of the ‘Slave of Christ’

Butts, Aaron Michael &  Gross, Simcha. 2017. The History of the ‘Slave of Christ’: From Jewish Child to Christian Martyr. ( Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation 6). New Jersey: Gorgias Press LLC .

The first critical editions and English translations of the two Syriac recensions of a fascinating text which narrates the story of a young Jewish child, Asher. After converting to Christianity and taking the name ʿAḇdā da-Mšiḥā (‘slave of Christ’), he is martyred by his father. In a detailed introduction, Butts and Gross challenge the use of this text by previous scholars as evidence for historical interactions between Jews and Christians, reevaluating its purpose and situating the story in its Late Antique Babylonian context.

 

Regional History and the Coin Finds from Assur: From the Achaemenids to the Nineteenth Century

Butcher, Kevin & Heidemann, Stefan. 2017. Regional History and the Coin Finds from Assur: From the Achaemenids to the Nineteenth Century. (Wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 148). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

In July 1914, the excavation of one of the most significant capitals in human history, Assur, ended successfully. After a division of finds, the objects were dispatched to Berlin on the eve of the First World War. Assur is currently the most important reference site for coin finds in northern Iraq. They constitute an independent source for the history of the settlement, the Tigris region, and for coin circulation after the fall of the Assyrian empire in 614 BC, from the Achaemenid to the late Ottoman empire. These coin finds fill an important gap in the history of Assur, whose name in the post-Assyrian period is hardly attested to. For the Arsacid period, the coin finds highlight the surprising permeability of the border from the Roman provinces to Arsacid north-eastern Mesopotamia.

With the Sasanian conquest in about 240/1, life in Assur apparently stopped. For the following 1,600 years we can distinguish at least three separate settlement phases, and almost each phase corresponds to changing names for the city. While we do not know what the settlement between the 7th and 8th century was called, in the 12th and 14th centuries it was referred to as al-‘Aqr. For this period, we have more literary references to its history, at least compared with the preceding 1,800 years. The coin finds, together with the textual references, allow for an insight into the political and economic development of “a large village”. For the 17th and 18th centuries, the coins point to a revived settlement, now under the name of Qal’at Shirqat.

 

Mountain Peoples in the Ancient Near East

Balatti, Silvia. 2017. Mountain Peoples in the Ancient Near East The Case of the Zagros in the First Millennium BC (Classica et Orientalia 18), Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.

Since Prehistory, communities principally engaged in herding activities have occupied the intermontane valleys and plains of the Zagros (Western Iran). Relations, tensions and cultural exchange between the inhabitants of the mountains and the Mesopotamian plains already occurred during the Bronze Age. These contacts increased in the course of the 1st millennium BCE, as is suggested by Near Eastern and subsequently by Greek and Latin sources which provide us with numerous new names of peoples living in the Zagros. The present volume investigates the social organisation and life style of the peoples of the Zagros Mountains in the 1st millennium BCE and deals with their relationships with the surrounding environment and with the political authorities on the plains.

Among these peoples, for example, were the ‘fierce’ Medes, breeders and purveyors of fine horses, the Manneans, who inhabited a large territory enclosed between the two contending powers of Assyria and Urartu, and the ‘warlike’ Cosseans, who bravely attempted to resist the attack of Alexander the Great’s army. The Southern Zagros Mountains, inhabited by mixed groups of Elamite and Iranian farmers and pastoralists, were also of key importance as the home of the Persians and the core area of their empire. Starting from Fārs, the Persians were able to build up the largest empire in the history of the ancient Near East before Alexander.

The interdisciplinary approach adopted in this study, which juxtaposes historical records with archaeological, zooarchaeological, palaeobotanical and ethnographic data, provides a new, holistic and multifaceted view on an otherwise little-known topic in ancient history.

 

Kings, Countries, Peoples: Selected Studies on the Achaemenid Empire

Amélie Kuhrt’s translation of Pierre Briant’s selected papers has just been published:
Briant, Pierre. 2017. Kings, Countries, Peoples: Selected Studies on the Achaemenid Empire. Steiner Franz Verlag.

Pierre Briant’s work focuses particularly on the Achaemenid Empire, Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Kingdoms. For the first time a selection of articles, originally published between 1979 and 2008, is now available in an English translation. The essays, translated by Amelie Kuhrt, deal with a wide range of topics, from regional studies to more universal subjects. A thought-provoking introduction gives a deeper understanding of his thinking by sometimes adopting his conclusions and by occasionally questioning his ideas and presenting an alternative line of thought. Thus, Kings, Countries, Peoples gives us an insight into the evolution of Pierre Briant’s work.