Latest issue of Iranian Studies

Latest issue of Iranian Studies (Vol 50, No 2) has three papers, related to our website’s interest, as follows:

Ali Bahadori: “Achaemenid Empire, Tribal Confederations of Southwestern Persia and Seven Families

Many tribes lived in southwestern Persia during the Achaemenid period. The region was crucial for the Persian empire in that almost all roads connecting the two capitals of Persepolis and Susa run through it. The policy adopted by the Achaemenids for controlling this tribal region was to establish tribal confederations headed by men loyal to the king such as Madates and Gobryas. The Achaemenid king reinforced these tribal confederations by political marriages. Sisygambis, the mother of Darius III, was presumably an Uxian. This is why she was an ideal person to negotiate with Alexander of Macedon to free the Uxians headed by Madates, also probably an Uxian. Gobryas, the head of the Patischorian tribe, was one of the seven who rebelled against Bardiya/Gaumāta according to the Bisotun inscription and Herodotus. The Persepolis Fortification texts appear to show that the region between modern Bāsht and Ardakān called the Fahliyān region or Shulestān was the territory of this tribe. Irdabama, presumably the daughter of Gobryas born from his marriage with daughter of a local dynast, was married by Darius I in order to maintain Achaemenid control over this tribal region.

Amir Ahmadi: “A Gāthic Rite? A Critique of the Cosmological Interpretation of the Gāthās I

In the last few decades ritual interpretation of the Gāthās has replaced the biblical one as the dominant paradigm. The emphasis on the central role of ritual in the Avesta is well justified. This realization has given rise to the question of the role and meaning of ritual in the Gāthās. Marijan Molé had tried to argue that the Gāthās in fact describe and accompany a rite whose purpose was the preservation/renovation of the cosmic order. Students of the Gāthās working within the new paradigm have taken up Molé’s general frame. They have tried to show that the Gāthās, collectively or individually, is the text of a particular rite that served, among others, to preserve the cosmic order, especially the daily rise of the sun. The article questions the validity of this thesis. Its focus is on the version of the thesis we find in a number of recent publications by Jean Kellens. He tries to show that the first Gāthā (Ahunauuaitī) describes a unitary pre-dawn ritual that comprised a haoma rite and an animal sacrifice, and had cosmological and eschatological pretensions. His textual analyses and arguments are examined in some detail. The article concludes that Kellens’s attempt must be deemed unsuccessful.

D Gershon Lewental: “The Death of Rostam: Literary Representations of Iranian Identity in Early Islam


The death of the Persian dynast Rostam b. Farrokh-Hormozd at the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah during the Arab-Islamic conquest of Iran received much attention in both the Islamic conquest literature and the Persian epic tradition canonized in the Shāh-nāmeh. A careful examination of the narratives of early Islamic history teaches us much about the mindset of those living in the first centuries following the momentous events of the seventh century. By removing the layers of literary embellishment and moralistic exegesis, we can understand better the impact of the death of this Sāsānian dynast. In addition, by comparing the narrative traditions, we can uncover valuable testimony regarding the early development of what might later be described as an Islamic Iranian identity.