Studies on the Sogdian Epistolary Tradition

Benkato, Adam. 2018. Studies on the Sogdian epistolary tradition (Berliner Turfantexte 41). Turnhout: Brepols.
Edition of Sogdian epistolary fragments discovered in Turfan as well as a wide-ranging comparative analysis of Sogdian epistolary formulae.

An important part of the Sogdian corpora which have come down to us are epistolary texts: both the earliest substantial Sogdian documents (the ‘Ancient Letters’) and the only substantial textual corpus found in Sogdiana itself (the Mugh documents). The Turfan collections of (especially) Berlin, Kyoto, and St. Petersburg, also preserve a number of letter fragments. Altogether, these texts attest different phases of a Sogdian epistographical tradition stretching over some seven centuries. The edition and analysis of both well-preserved and fragmentary texts can contribute to efforts to reconstruct parts of those traditions—and eventually connect them with those of Central Asia and Iran more broadly. The first part of this work is an effort to present a comprehensive edition of the Sogdian epistolary fragments in the Turfan collections of Berlin, Kyoto, and St. Petersburg. In the second part a comparative study of Sogdian epistolography is undertaken, based on the editions made in the first part, together with previously published work on other Sogdian epistolary corpora, including studies of layout, external addresses, and stamps. Additionally, an appendix by Simone-Christiane Raschmann contributes to the larger study of epistolary culture in Turfan with the edition and study of three Old Turkic fragments (two letters and one order) which shed light on the use of stamps.

Essays on Persian Poetry in Honor of Dick Davis

Seyed-Ghorab, Ali-Asghar (ed.). 2018. The layered heart: Essays on Persian poetry, a celebration in honor of Dick Davis. Washington, D.C: Mage Publishers.
The Layered Heart : Essays on Persian Poetry is published in celebration of the poet and scholar Dick Davis, dubbed “our pre-eminent translator from Persian” by The Washington Post. Edited by Ali-Asghar Seyed-Ghorab, Associate Professor of Persian at Leiden University, the volume includes twenty-one essays about Persian culture and literature, ranging from classical Persian poetry to modern literary topics. Written by foremost scholars in the field, each of the essays is original and ground-breaking either in content or in methodology, while together they encompass a broad sweep of Iranian history, from pre-Islamic times to the present. They offer a fascinating, multi-faceted view of the Persian classics – from poetry in praise of wine, and the portrayal of love in Persian-European medieval romances, to an examination of Ferdowsi’s monumental epic, the Shahnameh, its connection with the Persian oral tradition and its later reception in Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Europe. Modern topics include an analysis of Lahuti’s letter poem to Joseph Stalin, published for the first time in Persian and English, the celebrated novel My Uncle Napoleon, and trends in poetry before and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Table of Contents
  • Ehsan Yarshater: “Voyages in Literature”
  • Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak: “Continuity and Creativity: Models of Change in Persian Poetry, Classical and Modern”
  • Saeed Honarmand: “Between the Water and the Wall: The Power of Love in Medieval Persian Romance”
  • Christine van Ruymbeke: “Wretched King Mobad Loses the War of Love”
  • Asghar Seyed-Ghorab: “Of Love and Loyalty: The Middle English Floris and Blancheflour and the Persian Warqa and Golshāh”
  • Kamran Talattof: “What Kind of Wine Did Rudaki Desire? Samanids’ Search for Cultural and National Identity”
  • Paul Losensky: “Song of the Cupbearer by Mohammad Sūfī Māzandarānī”
  • Saghi Gazerani: “Zahhak’s Story and History”
  • H.E. Chehabi: “Wrestling in the Shahnameh and Later Persian Epics”
  • Sunil Sharma: “Heroes, Husbands, and Rhino Hunters: Sekandar and Bahram Gur in the Shahnameh”
  • Abbas Amanat: “Shahnameh-ye Naderi and the Revival of Epic Poetry in Post-Safavid Iran”
  • Reza Shaghaghi Zarghamee: “From Scythia to Sistan: Reconciling the Shahnameh and Herodotus to Discover the Origins of the Rostam Legend”
  • Olga M. Davidson: “On the Sources of the Shahnameh”
  • Franklin Lewis: “Shifting Allegiances: Primordial Relationships and How They Change in the Shahnameh”
  • Charles Melville: “The Shahnameh in India: Tārīkh-i Dilgushā-yi Shamshīr Khānī”
  • Margaret A. Mills:  “Kok Kohzad in Afghanistan: Local Knowledge and Shahnameh Characters”
  • Firuza Melville: “Side-Saddle Tazmin, or, the Post-Shahnameh for Victorian Children”
  • Natalia Chalisova: “Poet and Ruler: The Case of Dāstān-e gol, Lahuti’s Poem for Stalin”
  • Fatemeh Shams: “From Revolution to Silence: The Political and Literary Life of Qaysar Aminpur”
  • Saeedeh Shahnahpur: “Literature Beyond Borders: Modern Persian Novels in English Translation, The Case of Pezeshkzād’s My Uncle Napoleon”
  • John Walbridge: “Astrolabe Hunting in the Punjab”

Farnah: Indo-Iranian and Indo-European Studies in Honor of Sasha Lubotsky

Beek, Lucien, Alwin Kloekhorst, Guus Kroonen, Michaël Peyrot & Tijmen Pronk (eds.). 2018. Farnah. Indo-Iranian and Indo-European studies in honor of Sasha Lubotsky. Ann Arbor; New York: Beech Stave Press.

Over thirty specialists in Indo-European linguistics have contributed this elegant volume in honor of Prof. Sasha Lubotsky of Leiden University. Besides giving an excellent snapshot of the research currently being undertaken by his students and colleagues at that institution, Farnah contains contributions from well-known scholars across the world covering topics in Tocharian, Germanic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian, and Anatolian linguistics, to name a few.

Click here to see a full list of the contributions.

Table of Contents

    • Peter C. Bisschop: Vedic Elements in the Pāśupatasūtra
    • Václav Blažek: The Case of Tocharian ‘silver’: Inherited or Borrowed?
    • Michiel de Vaan: The Noncanonical Use of Instrumental Plurals in Young Avestan
    • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: Sogdian Plurals in the Vessantara Jātaka
    • Jost Gippert: A Middle Iranian Word Denoting an Office-Holder
    • Stephanie W. Jamison: The Vedic Perfect Imperative and the Status of Modal Forms to Tense-Aspect Stems
    • Michael Janda: Vedisch dhénā-: Bedeutung und Etymologie
    • Jay H. Jasanoff: The Phonology of Tocharian B okso ‘ox’
    • Jared Klein: Syncretism in Indo-European: A Natural History
    • Alwin Kloekhorst: The Origin of the Hittite ḫi-Conjugation
    • Werner Knobl: Das Demonstrativpronomen ETÁD im Ṛgveda
    • Petr Kocharov: A Comment on the Vocalization of Word-initial
      and Medial Laryngeals in Armenian
    • Frederik Kortlandt: The Indo-European k-Aorist
    • Guus Kroonen: Lachmann’s Law, Thurneysen’s Law, and a New Explanation of the PIE no-Participles
    • Leonid Kulikov: Vedic āhanás– and Its Relatives/Cognates within and outside Indo-Iranian
    • Martin Joachim Kümmel: The Survival of Laryngeals in Iranian
    • Rosemarie Lühr: Prosody in Indo-European Corpora
    • Hrach Martirosyan: Armenian Andndayin ōj and Vedic Áhi-Budhnyà– ‘Abyssal Serpent’
    • Ranko Matasović: Iranian Loanwords in Proto-Slavic: A Fresh Look
    • H. Craig Melchert: Semantics and Etymology of Hittite takš
    • Benedicte Nielsen Whitehead: PIE *gwh3-éu– ‘cow’
      Alan J. Nussbaum, A Dedicatory Thigh: Greek μηρὀς and μῆρα Once Again
    • Norbert Oettinger: Vedisch Vivásvant– und seine avestische Entsprechung
    • Birgit Anette Olsen: The Development of Interconsonantal Laryngeals in Indo-Iranian and Old Avestan ząθā ptā
    • Michaël Peyrot: Tocharian B etswe ‘mule’ and Eastern East Iranian
    • Georges-Jean Pinault: New Look at Vedic śám
    • Tijmen Pronk: Old Church Slavonic (j)utro, Vedic uṣár– ‘daybreak, morning’
    • Velizar Sadovski: Vedic and Avestan Parallels from Ritual Litanies
      and Liturgical Practices I
    • George Starostin: Typological Expectations and Historic Reality: Once Again on the Issue of Lexical Cognates between Indo-European and Uralic
    • Lucien van Beek: Greek πέδιλον ‘sandal’ and the Origin of the e-Grade in PIE ‘foot’
  • Michael Weiss: Veneti or Venetes? Observations on a Widespread Indo-European Tribal Name

Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral Texts and Testimony

Stewart, Sarah. 2018. Voices from Zoroastrian Iran: Oral texts and testimony (Part 1: Urban contexts: Kerman, Tehran, Ahwaz, Esfahan, Shiraz), vol. 1. (Iranica, GOF III/NF 17). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Voices from Zoroastrian Iran (Volumes I and II) is the result of an oral studies research project that maps the remaining Zoroastrian communities in Iran and explores what has happened to their religious lives and social structures since the Revolution of 1979 and the establishment of the Islamic Republic.
Interviews included in Volume 1 are with Zoroastrians from the urban centres of Tehrān, Kermān, Ahvāz, Shirāz and Esfahān. Participants refer to community leaders, historical figures, local events, teachers and religious texts that have shaped their views and understanding of the religion. They also address the impact of recent history upon their lives. The religion itself is presented as understood by those interviewed, drawn largely from the interpretations of Iranian scholars and scholar-priests, as opposed to those of predominantly western scholars. A chapter in the book is devoted to a survey of the main Iranian Zoroastrian religious observances as well as some popular customs. As a result of the new Constitution, the return to shari ‘a and the eight-year war with Iraq that followed the Revolution, the relationship between Zoroastrians and the state changed. The new political environment began to shape the religious and social identities of the next generation through Zoroastrian institutions such as the anjomans (councils) as well as those established by the government of the Islamic Republic.
The interviews for this book span a period of living memory that reflects both pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. The views expressed are informed by the changes that took place during that time and throw light on subjects as diverse as education, emigration, conversion and religious reform. The vol. 2 is planed to come out in 2019.
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Background and Context: Religion
  • Chapter 2 Devotional Life: Customs and Observances
  • Chapter 3 Background and Context: Society
  • Chapter 4 Kermān
  • Chapter 5 Tehrān
  • Chapter 6 Ahvāz, Shirāz and Esfahān
  • Conclusions

Read the detailed table of contents here.

The Problem of Respect in Sasanid-Roman Relations

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2018.The two eyes of the earth: The problem of respect in Sasanid-Roman relations. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 58, 591–606.

The diplomatic exchanges of the two powers need not express mutual respect, as the language and the rituals used by one side need not have been interpreted by the other as intended.

Iran, the Silk Road and Political Economy in Late Antiquity

Payne, Richard. 2018. The Silk Road and the Iranian political economy in late antiquity: Iran, the Silk Road, and the problem of aristocratic empire. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 81(2). 227–250.

The Iranian Empire emerged in the third century in the interstices of the Silk Road that increasingly linked the markets of the Mediterranean and the Near East with South, Central, and East Asia. The ensuing four centuries of Iranian rule corresponded with the heyday of trans-Eurasian trade, as the demand of moneyed imperial elites across the continent for one another’s high-value commodities stimulated the development of long-distance networks. Despite its position at the nexus of trans-continental and trans-oceanic commerce, accounts of Iran in late antiquity relegate trade to a marginal role in its political economy. The present article seeks to foreground the contribution of trans-continental mercantile networks to the formation of Iran and to argue that its development depended as much on the political economies of its western and eastern neighbours as on internal Near Eastern factors.

Also available from the author’s Academia page.

Achaemenid Sources and the Problem of Genre

Silverman, Jason M. 2018. Achaemenid sources and the problem of genre. In Sebastian Fink & Robert Rollinger (eds.), Conceptualizing Past, Present, and Future. (Melammu Symposia 9), 261-278, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag.

The present paper discusses the import of genre decisions for the assessment of historical sources for the Achaemenid Empire. It argues the medium must be included within genre considerations, and that genre is more than a literary artifact, but carries important historical and sociological implications.

Empires of Ancient Eurasia

Benjamin, Craig. 2018. Empires of ancient Eurasia: The first Silk Roads era, 100 BCE – 250 CE (New Approaches to Asian History). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Silk Roads are the symbol of the interconnectedness of ancient Eurasian civilizations. Using challenging land and maritime routes, merchants and adventurers, diplomats and missionaries, sailors and soldiers, and camels, horses and ships, carried their commodities, ideas, languages and pathogens enormous distances across Eurasia. The result was an underlying unity that traveled the length of the routes, and which is preserved to this day, expressed in common technologies, artistic styles, cultures and religions, and even disease and immunity patterns. In words and images, Craig Benjamin explores the processes that allowed for the comingling of so many goods, ideas, and diseases around a geographical hub deep in central Eurasia. He argues that the first Silk Roads era was the catalyst for an extraordinary increase in the complexity of human relationships and collective learning, a complexity that helped drive our species inexorably along a path towards modernity.

About the author: Craig Benjamin is Professor of History at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. He is the author of several books and numerous chapters and articles on ancient history, including Volume 4 of The Cambridge History of the World (Cambridge, 2015). Craig has filmed programs and courses for the History Channel and The Great Courses. He is a Past President of the World History Association and Vice President of the International Big History Association.

Polemical Aspects in an Early Judeo-Persian Bible Exegesis

Haim, Ofir. 2018. Polemical Aspects in an Early Judeo-Persian Bible Exegesis: The Commentary on the Story of  Ḥannah (RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4608). Entangled  Religions 6(Special Issue: Historical Engagements and Interreligious Encounters-Jews and Christians in Premodern and Early Modern Asia and Africa). 163–200.
The article discusses the attitude towards Christians, Muslims, and the “foreign sciences” based on one of the only extant polemical texts written in Early Judeo-Persian—a passage from an unpublished commentary on story of Ḥannah preserved in the National Library of Russia (RNL Yevr.-Arab. I 4608). In addition, the article attempts to define the relation of this commentary to the broader intellectual environment of the medieval Jewish world. A close examination of this passage reveals a possible connection to Karaite exegetical work written in Judeo-Arabic during the tenth century, particularly those of Yefet ben ʿEli. Therefore, the article may serve as a case study of intellectual contact and transmission of knowledge between different Jewish groups in the Islamicate world.

Personal names in Iranian Manichaica

Colditz, Iris. 2018. Iranische Personennamen in manichäischer Überlieferung (Iranisches Personennamenbuch Mitteliranische Personennamen II/Faszikel 1). Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.
This volume presents for the first time a full collection of the personal names attested in Iranian sources of Manichaeism, an ancient dualistic and syncretistic world religion (3rd–14th century). This extremely heterogeneous corpus from the Central Asian Turfan oasis (Xinjiang, China) goes back to the golden age of Manichaeism in the Uygur steppe empire and the kingdom of Qočo (8th–11th century) but can be partly traced back to more ancient originals. It comprises ca. 4700 text fragments in Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, Bactrian and New Persian written in Manichaean, Sogdian and Old Turkish runic scripts. The 766 entries contain Iranian, hybrid, and non-Iranian names, which reflect the ethnic and religious diversity of the peoples along the Silk Road. The name bearers are historical persons as well as fictitious characters from myth and literature. Obsolete and differing readings as well as “ghost names” are specifically marked. The presentation of the names follows the guidelines of the Iranisches Personennamenbuch. Each entry lists transliteration, transcription and all references of the name, including spelling variants, text duplicates and versions in other scripts or languages, followed by prosopographical data: titles, designations of offices or professions. Reference is made to indirect transmissions of the name (“Nebenüberlieferung”) in non-Iranian Manichaica, the writings of Arabic historians and in antiheretical Christian and Zoroastrian scriptures. At the end follows the morphological and etymological interpretation of the name. The explored material is displayed in detailed indexes. The volume is of special interest to specialists in Iranian studies, linguistics, religious studies and history.

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