Category Archives: Books

Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern Context

Waters, Matt. 2017. Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern context (Wisconsin Studies in Classics). University of Wisconsin Press.

The Persica is an extensive history of Assyria and Persia written by the Greek historian Ctesias, who served as a doctor to the Persian king Artaxerxes II around 400 BCE. Written for a Greek readership, the Persica influenced the development of both historiographic and literary traditions in Greece. It also, contends Matt Waters, is an essential but often misunderstood source for the history of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.

Matt Waters is a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550–330 BCE and A Survey of Neo-Elamite History.

Source: UW Press: Ctesias’ Persica and Its Near Eastern Context

Persianism in Antiquity

Strootman, Rolf & Miguel John Versluys (eds.). 2017. Persianism in antiquity (Oriens et Occidens 25). Franz Steiner Verlag.

The socio-political and cultural memory of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire played a very important role in Antiquity and later ages. This book is the first to systematically chart these multiform ideas and associations over time and to define them in relation to one another, as Persianism. Hellenistic kings, Parthian monarchs, Romans and Sasanians: they all made a lot of meaning through the evolving concept of “Persia”, as the twenty-one papers in this rich volume illustrate at length.
Persianism underlies the notion of an East-West dichotomy that still pervades modern political rhetoric. In Antiquity and beyond, however, it also functioned in rather different ways, sometimes even as an alternative to Hellenism.

For the contributions, see the Table of Contents.

Source: Persianism in antiquity | Franz Steiner Verlag

The Large Farāmarznāme

van Zutphen, Marjolijn. 2017. A Story of Conquest and Adventure: The Large Farāmarznāme. Leiden: Brill.

 

The Large Farāmarznāme (Farāmarznāme-ye bozorg), a poem from the Persian epic cycle dated to the late eleventh century, is hereby published for the first time in an English translation, in prose. The story tells how Farāmarz, a son of the famous Shāhnāme hero Rostam, conquers several provinces of India, before setting off on an extensive voyage over sea and land, leading his troops through a number of hazardous situations in various fictional countries. As a true epic hero, he displays his prowess in battle and in single combat against men, demons and various ferocious animals, in addition to experiencing a number of marvelous and romantic adventures.

Marjolijn van Zutphen obtained her PhD in 2011 at Leiden University with a dissertation on the Persian epic cycle, a series of poems that were composed in emulation of Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāme. In a joint cooperation with Abolfazl Khatibi she has produced the first critical edition of Farāmarznāme-ye bozorg.

The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia

Pirngruber, Reinhard. 2017. The economy of late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. Cambridge University Press.

In this book Reinhard Pirngruber provides a full reassessment of the economic structures and market performance in Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. His approach is informed by the theoretical insights of New Institutional Economics and draws heavily on archival cuneiform documents as well as providing the first exhaustive contextualisation of the price data contained in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. Historical information gleaned from the accounts of both Babylonian scholars and Greek authors shows the impact of imperial politics on prices in form of exogenous shocks affecting supply and demand. Attention is also paid to the amount of money in circulation. Moreover, the use of regression analysis in modelling historical events breaks new ground in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and gives new impetus to the use of modern economic theory. The book explains the theoretical and statistical methods used so that it is accessible to the full range of historians.

Source: The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia | Reinhard Pirngruber

A New French Translation of the Avesta

Lecoq, Pierre. 2017. Les livres de l’Avesta. Les textes sacrés des zoroastriens.  Cerf.

Mazdaism (the religion of Ahura Mazda) or Zoroastrianism (the religion of Zoroaster) is one of the most ancient beliefs in the East. It was professed among the ancient Iranians and is known to us from the books of the Avesta and the later Middle Persian texts. The religion had considerable influence on Greek philosophers and on the neighbouring religious systems. However, the vicissitudes of history have gradually led these excellent texts to oblivion. From this magnificent past, remain only the modest Zoroastrian communities of Iran and the Parsis of India. However, it is indispensable to maintain this theological system from oblivion. Beyond the monotheism of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, beyond the polytheism of the Greeks, Romans and Hindus, Mazdaism offers an original treatment to the problem of good and evil. Dualism tries to resolve this common problem among theologians and philosophers in an original way. The present translation is preceded by an introduction to Mazdaism. The translation is accompanied by explanatory notes and a detailed index. We hope this book will stimulate historical studies of religion, shedding the light on the most brilliant contribution from Iranians to universal civilization.

Abstract by Yazdan Safaee, based on the French original.

ReOrienting the Sasanians

Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2017. ReOrienting the Sasanians: East Iran in late antiquity (Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Persia). Edinburgh University Press.

Central Asia is commonly imagined as the marginal land on the periphery of Chinese and Middle Eastern civilisations. At best, it is understood as a series of disconnected areas that served as stop-overs along the Silk Road.

However, in the mediaeval period, this region rose to prominence and importance as one of the centres of Persian-Islamic culture, from the Seljuks to the Mongols and Timur.

Khodadad Rezakhani tells the back story of this rise to prominence, the story of the famed Kushans and mysterious ‘Asian Huns’, and their role in shaping both the Sasanian Empire and the rest of the Middle East.

Source: ReOrienting the Sasanians – Edinburgh University Press

Alexander’s Legacy

Cinzia, Bearzot & Landucci Franca (eds.). (2016). Alexander’s Legacy: Atti del Convegno, Milano-Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, settembre 2015 (Monografie Del Centro Ricerche Di Documentazione Sull’antichita Classica). L’ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER.

 

Recently, the history of Alexander and his Successors has attracted growing attention of modern academia. The Hellenistic world is not viewed anymore as a moment of decadence after the splendour of the Greek Classical age, enlightened by Athens’ bright star, but as an engaging example of ante litteram globalization, the essential premise to the development of the Roman Empire. We have consequently considered opportune and significant to organise a conference meeting devoted to Alexander’ s Legacy.
Continue reading Alexander’s Legacy

Non-Mainstream Religion in Persianate Societies

Raei, Shahrokh (ed.). 2017. Islamic Alternatives; Non-Mainstream Religion in Persianate Societies. (Iranica, GOF III/NF 16). Göttingen: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Islamic Alternatives are the proceedings of a symposium which was held in April 2014 within the framework of a research project entitled The Khāksār Order between Ahl-e Ḥaqq and Shiite Sufi Order, funded by the German Research Foundation.
The tradition and belief system of the Khāksār is closely connected to several cultural and religious traditions across a vast geographical area in the Orient: the territory of Persianate societies, which might also be called ‘the territory of wandering dervishes’. The extensive historical and cultural relations and associations, the similarities between the Khāksār Order and the Futuwwa tradition or religious communities (such as the Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yārsān) and Bektashi order in different geographical territories), the relationship between this order and Dervish groups in Pakistan and Central Asia on the one hand and its connection with the official orthodox Shia on the other hand are the main topics dealt with in the present book.
The commonalities and cultural relations of these numerous and diverse cultural traditions as well as the heterodox movements in this region are so substantial that understanding the related aspects of each helps us gain a deeper knowledge of the whole subject matter. This symposium and the present proceedings attempt to gather as many specialists of these diverse but associated themes as possible in order to achieve a better understanding of these concepts.
Table of Contents (PDF):
Early Shiʿism and Futuwwa
  • Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi: “New Remarks on Secrecy and Concealment in Early Imāmī Shiʿism: the Case of khatm al-nubuwwa – Aspects of Twelver Shiʿi Imamology XII
  • Mohsen Zakeri: “From Futuwwa to Mystic Political Thought: – The Caliph al-Nāṣir li-Dīn Allāh and Abū Ḥafṣ Suhrawardī’s Theory of Government

Ahl-e Ḥaqq (Yāresān)

  • Philip G. Kreyenbroek: “Some Remarks on the Early History of the Ahl-e Ḥaqq”
  • Martin van Bruinessen: “Between Dersim and Dālahū – Reflections on Kurdish Alevism and the Ahl-e Ḥaqq Religion
  • Yiannis Kanakis: “Yāresān Religious Concepts and Ritual Repertoires as Elements of Larger Net-works of Socio-Political ‘Heterodoxy’ – Some Thoughts on Yāresān , Shiite and Qizilbash/Bektashi Sources and Symbolism
Cultural Anthropological Analysis
  • Jürgen Wasim Frembgen: “Beyond Muslim and Hindu – Sacred Spaces in the Thar Desert of Pakistan
  • Alexandre Papas: “Dog of God: Animality and Wildness among Dervishes”
  • Thierry Zarcone: “Sacred Stones in Qalandariyya and Bektashism”
    Khāksār
  • Mehran Afshari: “Quṭb al-Dīn Ḥaydar-e Tūnī and his Connection to the Ḥaydariyya and Khāksāriyya”
  • Shahrokh Raei: “Some Recent Issues and Challenges in the Khāksār Order”
Folk Sufism
  • Razia Sultanova: “Female Folk Sufism in the Central Asian Space-Time Continuum”
 About the Editor:
Shahrokh Raei is an scholar of Sufī and Khāksār Order and lecturer at the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Freiburg.

This World and the Next in Religious Belief and Practice

Hintze, Almut & Alan Williams (eds.). 2017. Holy wealth: Accounting for this world and the next in religious belief and oractice. Festschrift for John R. Hinnells (Iranica 24). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
 This volume, presented to John R. Hinnells on his 75th Birthday, focuses on the interface between material and spiritual wealth, a theme that runs across many religions and cultures and that incorporates a major strand of John R. Hinnells’s particular fascination with the Zoroastrians of ancient and modern times, and his more general interest in the positive and life-affirming aspects of religious traditions across many domains. The volume includes seventeen studies by leading scholars exploring ideas of and attitudes to material wealth and its use for promoting spiritual benefits in Zoroastrian, Mithraic, Christian, Buddhist and Islamic traditions.
Table of Contents (PDF):

Continue reading This World and the Next in Religious Belief and Practice

Manichaeism East and West

Lieu, Samuel, Nils Arne Pedersen, Enrico Morano & Erica Hunter (eds.). 2017. Manichaeism East and West (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum – Analecta Manichaica 1). Brepols Publishers.

The volume contains the proceedings of the eigth international symposium of the International Assocation of Manichaean Studies covering all major aspects of Manichaean studies.
This new volume brings the research on many aspects of the texts published in the Corpus up to date and signals new texts to appear in the Corpus. It includes important studies on the scientific dating of the Medinet Madi, codices as well as the newly discovered Manichaean texts in Chinese and Parthian from Xiapu in South China.

Source: Manichaeism East and West