The Portrait of a Hellenistic Ruler in the National Museum of Iran

Lindström, Gunvor. 2017. The Portrait of a Hellenistic Ruler in the National Museum of Iran. In  Daehner, Jens M., Kenneth Lapatin, and Ambra Spinelli (eds.), 198-204, Artistry in Bronze: The Greeks and Their Legacy (XIXth International Congress on Ancient Bronzes). Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum; Getty Conservation Institute.

The portrait of a Hellenistic ruler in the National Museum of Iran (inv. 2477) is the most prominent archaeological testimony of the Hellenistic presence in Iran. It shows the spread of Hellenistic largescale sculpture in the regions east of the Tigris River, of which there is otherwise very little evidence. Furthermore, it is one of the few preserved original Hellenistic large-scale bronzes. Nevertheless, this extraordinary piece of art is rarely illustrated in handbooks on Hellenistic sculpture or ruler portraits, and only a few specialists are familiar with this bronze. The head represents a ruler, likely a king of the Seleucid dynasty, which ruled Iran in the third and second centuries BC. But due to the portrait’s intense deformation, the ruler represented could not be identified until now. In August 2015 a project was started with the aim of reconstructing the original facial features. Although this aim has not been achieved, the investigations at the National Museum of Iran have already yielded extraordinary results.

 

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.

Continue reading Pre-Islamic Iran from the Creation to the Parthians

Corpus Avesticum Berolinense

Today, the Institute of Iranian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, received the confirmation of funding for Corpus Avesticum Berolinense (CAB), a long-term project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for 12 years . The goal of CAB is to edit all Zoroastrian rituals preserved in the Avestan language. This is excellent news for the institute and the discipline. The BiblioIranica team congratulates Prof. Alberto Cantera for this achievement. It is more than well-deserved.

See the institute’s announcement for more information.

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.

Continue reading The Sanskrit Yasna

A Zoroastrian Doctrine in the Manichaean Reception

Panaino, Antonio. 2017. The end of time and the ‘Laws of Zoroaster’. A Zoroastrian doctrine in the Manichaean reception. In Francesco Calzolaio, Erika Petrocchi, Marco Valisano & Alessia Zubani (eds.), In limine. Esplorazioni attorno all’idea di confine, 61–68 (Studi e Ricerche 9). Venezia: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari.

Zoroastrian theology clearly insisted on the assumption that historical time was limited and that in its borders ‘evil’ should be destroyed. Practically, ‘time’ and ‘space’ were a sort of weapon used by Ohrmazd in order to entrap Ahreman and his demonic army. In this spatio-temporal frame – work, the end of historical time involved also the end of Ahreman himself, so that one of the actions enacted by the ‘Antagonist Spirit’ would be that of trying to delay and stop its regular course. Recent studies on the Manichaean Coptic Kephalaia of Dublin confirm the importance of this Mazdean doctrine and present a direct witness of this theological dogma, which was presented in a way conveniently fitting for the Gnostic religion professed by Mani.

Bulletin of the Asia Institute 27

Issue 27 of the Bulletin of the Asia Institute will be published this December. The information on this issue is not yet available on the journal’s website, but the content has been circulated, which we are publishing here.

Bulletin of the Asia Institute 27

December 2017

Articles

  • Frantz Grenet, “More Zoroastrian Scenes on the Wirkak (Shi Jun) Sarcophagus”
  • Yaakov Elman and Mahnaz Moazami, “PV 5.1–4 in the Context of Late Antique Intellectual History”
  • Harry Falk, “The Ashes of the Buddha”
  • Peter Skilling, “Śrāvakas, Buddhas, and the Buddha’s Father: Inscribed Artefacts in the U Thong National Museum”
  • V. H. Sonowane, “Rock Paintings Depicting Stupas in Gujarat, India”
  • Domenico Agostini and Shaul Shaked, “Sasanian Seals of Priests”
  • Nicholas Sims-Williams, “A Bactrian Document of the Fifth Century c.e.”
  • Salman Aliyari Babolghani, “Achaemenid Elamite dayāuš (~ Old Persian dahyāu̯-š)”
  • Dieter Weber, “Accountancy of a Zoroastrian Craftsman in Early Islamic Times (662–664 CE)”
  • Stefan Zimmer, “The Etymology of Avestan 2čiqra- ‘Descent, Progeny'”
  • Zhang Zhan, “Kings of Khotan During the Tang Dynasty”

Reviews

  • Lieu and Mikkelsen, eds. Between Rome and China (Albert E. Dien)
  • Hansen. The Silk Road: A New History with Documents(Jenny Rose)
  • Mair and Hickman, eds. Reconfiguring the Silk Road: (Jenny Rose)

v + 170 pp.

Individual orders $80 + shipping or pdf online $50

Persian Art: Image-making in Eurasia

Kadoi, Yuka (ed.). 2017. Persian Art: Image-making in Eurasia. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

In this illustrated book, nine contributors explore multifaceted aspects of art, architecture and material culture of the Persian cultural realm, encompassing West Asia, Anatolia, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Europe. Each chapter examines the historical, religious or scientific role of visual culture in the shaping, influencing and transforming of distinctive ‘Persian’ aesthetics across the various historical periods, ranging from pre-Islamic, medieval and early modern Islamic to modern times.

Table of Contents:
  • Judith A. Lerner: “The Visual Culture of Greater Iran: Some Examples of Kushano-Sasanian Art”
  • Matteo Compareti: “The Late Sasanian Figurative Capitals at Taq-i Bustan: Proposals Regarding Identification and Origins
  • Richard Piran McClary: “Architecture of the Wider Persian World: From Central Asia to Western Anatolia in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries”
  • Yuka Kadoi: “From Acquisition to Display: The Reception of Chinese Ceramics in the Pre-modern Persian World”
  • Tobias Nünlist: “Devotion and Protection: Four Amuletic Scrolls from Safavid Persia”
  • Iván Szántó: “The Minarets of Hurmuzgan”
  • Raquel Santos: “Persia, India or Indo-Persian? The Study of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century Knotted Pile Carpets”
  • Francesco Stermotich-Cappellari: “The Calligraphic Art of Mishkin Qalam”
  • Markus Ritter: “The Kashan Mihrab in Berlin: A Historiography of Persian Lustreware”

A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies