Category Archives: Books

Persian Art

Carey, Moya. 2018. Persian art: Collecting the arts of Iran in the nineteenth century. London: V&A Publishing.

Persian Art tells the story of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s stunning collection of Iranian art, which spans at least 12 centuries of Iran’s sophisticated cultural history. The objects range from the Ardibal carpet–the world’s oldest dated carpet and one of the largest, most beautiful, and historically important–to archaeological finds and architectural salvage, domestic furnishings and drinking vessels, and complete design archives. Through four case studies, the book investigates how architects, diplomats, dealers, collectors, and craftsmen such as William Morris and William De Morgan engaged with Iran’s complex visual traditions, both ancient and modern, with results that still resonate today in our continued fascination with pattern and form.

Moya Carey is the Iran Heritage Foundation Curator for the Iranian Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Safavid Occidentalism and Persian Painting

In ʿAli Qoli Jebādār et l’Occidentalism safavide Negar Habibi provides a fresh account of the life and works of ʿAli Qoli Jebādār, a leading painter of the late Safavid period. By collecting several of the artist’s paintings and signatures Habibi brings to light the diversity of ʿAli Qoli Jebādār’s most important works. In addition, the volume offers us new insights into both the artistic and socio-political evolution of Iranian society in the last days of pre-modern Iran. By carefully consulting the historical sources, Negar Habibi demonstrates the possibility of a female and eunuch patronage in the seventeenth-century paintings known as farangi sāzi, while suggesting the use of the term “Occidentalism” for those Safavid paintings that show some exotic and alien details of the Western world.

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Iran: A Modern History

Amanat, Abbas. 2018. Iran: A modern history. Yale University Press.

his history of modern Iran is not a survey in the conventional sense but an ambitious exploration of the story of a nation. It offers a revealing look at how events, people, and institutions are shaped by currents that sometimes reach back hundreds of years. The book covers the complex history of the diverse societies and economies of Iran against the background of dynastic changes, revolutions, civil wars, foreign occupation, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.

Abbas Amanat combines chronological and thematic approaches, exploring events with lasting implications for modern Iran and the world. Drawing on diverse historical scholarship and emphasizing the twentieth century, he addresses debates about Iran’s culture and politics. Political history is the driving narrative force, given impetus by Amanat’s decades of research and study. He layers the book with discussions of literature, music, and the arts; ideology and religion; economy and society; and cultural identity and heritage.

Abbas Amanat is professor of history and international studies at Yale University and director of the Yale Program in Iranian Studies at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. He lives in North Haven, CT.

Source: Iran by Abbas Amanat – Yale University Press

Persepolis West (Fars, Iran)

Askari Chaverdi, Alireza & Pierfrancesco Callieri. 2017. Persepolis West (Fars, Iran): Report on the field work carried out by the Iranian-Italian Joint Archaeological Mission in 2008–2009 (British Archaeological Reports International Series 2870). BAR Publishing.

This book represents the final report on the field work carried out in 2008 and 2009 by the Iranian-Italian Joint Archaeological Mission at the archaeological site of Persepolis West, where parts of the town adjacent to the well-known Achaemenid monumental terrace of Persepolis have been located. The eleven trial trenches excavated in areas indicated by the results of Iranian and Iranian-French geophysical surveys represent the first stratigraphic excavations ever carried out on this site, the dating of which is supported by a rich series of radiocarbon datings. Illustration of the excavations is preceded by an accurate geophysical study of the topographical context and accompanied by a detailed and richly illustrated analysis of pottery and other finds: the safe stratigraphic context makes these finds a particularly important source of evidence for our knowledge of the ceramics of Fars during the historic pre-Islamic age. The excavations largely confirm the location of the built-up area of Parsa indicated by geophysical surveys.

Persian Interventions

Hyland, John O. 2017. Persian Interventions: The Achaemenid Empire, Athens, and Sparta, 450−386 BCE. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Thirty years after Xerxes invaded Greece, the Achaemenid Persian Empire ended its long war with Athens. For the next four decades, the Persians tolerated Athenian control of their former tributaries, the Ionian Greek cities of western Anatolia. But during the Peloponnesian War, Persia reclaimed Ionia and funded a Spartan fleet to overthrow Athenian power. It took eight long years for Persia to triumph, and Sparta then turned on its benefactors, prompting Persia to transfer aid to Athens in the Corinthian War. The peace of 386 reiterated imperial control of Ionia and compelled both Sparta and Athens to endorse a Persian promise of autonomy for Greeks outside Asia. Continue reading Persian Interventions

Sasanian coins, middle-Persian etymology and the Tabarestān archive

Gyselen, Rika (ed.). 2017. Sasanian coins, middle-Persian etymology and the Tabarestān archive. (Res Orientales 26). Bures sur Yvette: Groupe d’Etude de la Civilisation du Moyen-Orient.

Table of Contents:
  • Rika Gyselen; Malek Iradj Mochiri together with Hendrik Hameeuw: “Une collection de monnaies sassanides de billon, de cuivre et de plomb”
  • Rüdiger Schmidt: “Zu Lesung und Interpretation sasanidischer Monogramme”
  • Alicia Van Ham-Meert; Bruno Overlaet; Philippe Claeys and Patrick Degryse: “The Use of micro-XRF for the elemental analysis of Sasanian lead coins from the collections of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels”The Tabarestan archive (VIIIth century)
  • Dieter Weber: “Pahlavi Legal Documents from Tabarestan on Lease, Loan and Compensation: A Philological Study”
  • Maria Macuch: “Pahlavi Legal Documents from Tabarestan on Lease, Loan and Compensation: The Juristic Context”

The Imagery of the Ritual Landscape at Persepolis

Garrison, Mark B. 2017. The ritual landscape at persepolis: glyptic imagery from the persepolis fortification and treasury archives. (Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 71). Chicago, IL: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

There are, perhaps, no more contentious issues within the study of Achaemenid Persia than those surrounding its religion(s) and religious iconography. Owing to the role that fire plays in Zoroastrian beliefs in later periods in Iran, almost any discussion of the subject of Achaemenid religion will eventually turn to the identification of sacred fire, fire temples, fire worship, and fire altars in the archaeological, epigraphic, and literary records.

The focus of this book is a corpus of glyptic imagery preserved as impressions on two large archives of administrative tablets from Persepolis, the Persepolis Fortification archive (509-493 BC) and the Persepolis Treasury archive (492-457 BC). The glyptic imagery here published concerns representations of what have been traditionally termed “fire altars” and/or “fire temples.” Most of this glyptic evidence has never been published; many of the structures and the scenes in which they occur are strikingly original.
The goals of this study are to introduce a new corpus of visual imagery concerning religious ritual in the Achaemenid period and to explore the significance of this visual language for our understanding of ritual traditions emerging within the heart of the empire at its most critical formative period, the reign of Darius I. This study seeks also to use the Persepolitan glyptic evidence as a springboard to re-visit the most famous “fire altar” depicted in Achaemenid art, that on the tomb relief of Darius I at Naqs-e Rostam.

This study is an initial step in the development of a religious topography for the zone encompassing Persepolis and Naqs-e Rostam, both a topography on the imaginary level (through images) and a topography on the physical level (through the built space). The glyptic images assembled in this study are the most numerous, the most visually complex, and the best dated and contextualized evidence that currently exists for the study of fire in ritual, and religious ritual more broadly, in early Achaemenid Iran.

You can download and read this volume here.

Shahnama Studies III

van den Berg, Gabrielle (ed.). 2017. Shahnama Studies III: The Reception of the Shahnama. Leiden: Brill.

Shahnama Studies III focuses on the hugely successful afterlife of the Shahnama or Book of Kings, completed by the poet Firdausi around 1010 AD. This long epic grew out to be an icon of Persian culture and served as a source of inspiration for art and literature, leaving its traces in manifold ways. The contributors to this volume each treat an aspect of the rich legacy of the Shahnama and offer new insights in Shahnama manuscript studies, the illustration of the Shahnama, the phenomenon of later epics, and the Shahnama in later texts and contexts. Continue reading Shahnama Studies III

Pre-Islamic Iran from the Creation to the Parthians

Hameen-Anttila, Jaakko (ed.). 2017. Al-Maqrīzī’s al-Ḫabar ʻan al-bašar. vol. V, section 4: Persia and its kings, part I (Bibliotheca Maqriziana 5). Leiden: Brill.

Al-Maqrīzī’s (d. 845/1442) last work, al-Ḫabar ʿan al-bašar, was completed a year before his death. This volume, edited by Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, covers the history of pre-Islamic Iran from the Creation to the Parthians. Al-Maqrīzī’s work shows how Arab historians integrated Iran into world history and how they harmonized various currents of historiography (Middle Persian historiography, Islamic sacred history, Greek and Latin historiography).

Among al-Ḫabar’s sources is Kitāb Hurūšiyūš, the Arabic translation of Paulus Orosius’ Historiarum adversum paganos libri vii. This source has only been preserved in one defective copy, and al-Maqrīzī’s text helps to fill in some of its lacunae.

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The Sanskrit Yasna

Goldman, Leon. 2017. The Sanskrit Yasna Manuscript S1. Facsimile Edition (Corpus Avesticum / Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 2 South Asia, 32/1). Leiden: Brill.
The manuscript S1 is one of the chief witnesses to the Sanskrit Yasna, containing the Avestan text of the Zoroastrian Yasna liturgy to chapter 46.19, together with a Sanskrit translation and commentary. This book contains the complete, full-colour set of facsimile images of S1.
An introduction by Leon Goldman provides an overview of the Zoroastrian Sanskrit tradition together with a discussion of the S1 manuscript covering its physical appearance, its age and history, and for the first time, a detailed palaeographic analysis of the Avestan and Sanskrit text.

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