The Captive Emperor: Valerian, Persia and the Defeat of Edessa

Coloru, Omar. 2017. L’imperatore prigioniero. Valeriano, la Persia e la disfatta di Edessa. Editori Laterza.

 

In 260 AD, the emperor Valerian is made prisoner by the “King of kings” Shapur I: he will end his days in Persia as a prisoner of war. For the Romans, this is an unprecedented military catastrophe, even more terrible than the defeat of Crassus at Carrhae in 53 BC. Rome is going to face the worst phase of the crisis affecting the Roman empire in the 3rd century AD: the Sasanians are making incursions in Anatolia and Syria, the Renan and Danubian borders are under the pressure of the barbarians, while the Christians are persecuted all over the empire because the emperor sees in this religion a political and ideological threat for the Roman state and its traditions. What is more, the capture of Valerian generates separatist movements which allow the usurper Postumus to create the Gallic Empire. The book aims to present a biography of Valerian to a general audience but it also tries to investigate some controversial events of his reign.

via Omar Coloru.

An Italian translation of Shahnameh

Cristoforetti, Simone (ed.). 2017. Shahnameh Il Libro dei Re. Testo Poetico Persiano Dell’edizione Turner Macan. Italo Pizzi.

The first integral reprint of the Persian text of Abu ‘l-Qasem Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh printed in Calcutta (1829), published along its Italian poetic translation by the reknown iranologist Italo Pizzi (Turin, 1886-1888).
The Italinan translation is annotated by S. Cristoforetti (University of Venice) with reference to the critic edition of the Shahname by Dj. Khaleghi Motlagh. The editorial project is under the supervision of Prof. G. Scarcia (University of Venice) and undertaken in collaboration with the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad.

The second issue of Studia Iranica 45

The second issue of Studia Iranica 45 (2016) has been published. Three papers of this issue are related to our interest:

The presence in the Wizīdagīhā ī Zādspram 28,6 of an explicit reference to the figure 6666 in connection with the manifestation of Ahreman’s arrival into the world immediately suggests a direct comparison with the ‘Number of the Beast’, 666, appearing in the Apocalypse of John, 13, 17-18. The author analyses many symbolic interpretations of this number and its importance in the Early Christian tradition, in particular in the framework of Irenaeus’s Adversus Haereses and the related chiliadic milieu. While the presence of this number in the Mazdean context seems to be another evidence supporting the thesis of a Western influence on Iranian apocalypticism (in spite of the apparent absence of Syriac versions of the Apocalypse of John in earlier times), the circulation of millenaristic doctrines presents a more complex situation, in which also the Iranian component should have played its remarkable impact in earlier times.

A number of Sogdian letter fragments are preserved from the Manichaean communities in Turfan. Although the majority are written in the Sogdian script, a small number are written in a cursive variety of the Manichaean script found only in these texts. Their edition and study provides a brief glimpse into the dynamics of the community. Furthermore, the first paleographic analysis of Manichaean cursive is undertaken.

A Journal of Three Months’ Walk in Persia in 1884

Harris, Russell & Marjan Afsharian (eds.). 2017. A Journal of Three Months’ Walk in Persia in 1884 by Captain John Compton Pyne. Leiden University Press.

 

In 1884 an obscure British soldier, having finished his tour of duty in India, decided to make a detour on his trip home in order to spend three months crossing Persia unaccompanied except for the local muleteers. Among his accoutrements he packed a small leather-bound sketchbook in which he not only wrote a journal but in which he also added accomplished and charming water-colour illustrations. The authors’ introduction contextualises this trip made in 1884 against the background of Persianate influence in British culture, and the general cultural background of late Victorian Britain is presented as the subliminal driver behind a young man’s desire to explore, and illustrate, an already discovered country – Persia.

Marjan Afsharian gained her MA in the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS. She currently works for the Encyclopaedia Islamica project at The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London.

Russell Harris holds an MA in Oriental Studies from Balliol College, Oxford, and is an established translator of literary works from French and Arabic. He is a contributor to the The Routledge Encyclopedia of 19th Century Photography and The Encyclopaedia Islamica.

Picturing Pasargadae: Visual Representation and the Ambiguities of Heritage in Iran

Mozaffari, Ali. 2017. “Picturing Pasargadae: Visual Representation and the Ambiguities of Heritage in Iran“, Iranian Studies 50(4), 601-634.

This paper probes the relationship between visual representations and visitation practices at Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Iran. Presenting a systematic analysis of publicly available online images of Pasargadae, the paper examines the complex relationship between the place and its visual representations. Through analysis, the paper elaborates on a sense of intimacy that, while grounding Pasargadae, is also a potential common ground in pre-Islamic heritage in which the Iranian state and society could at once meet and contest versions of identity. Examining this relationship facilitates reflections into both heritage and the peculiarities of its visual representation in the Iranian context.

Archaeological Discoveries at Tillya–tepe and Parthia’s Relations with Bactria

Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2016. “Archaeological Discoveries at Tillya–tepe and Parthia’s Relations with Bactria“, Parthica 18.

A number of studies have been published on a variety of aspects of the Tillya-tepe necroplis, its cultural associations and ethnic interpretations. However, the determination both of its date and origin, as well as of the ethnicity of the nomads who established the necroplis has proved an extremely controversial issue. A closer examination is needed of the coins and the attributes of power discovered in the furnishings of the Tillya-tepe graves. The necropolis should be seen in the context of Parthian history in the 40s and 50s A.D., when during the reigns of Vardanes, Gotarzes II and Vologases I the clans of Bactria engaged in the Parthian domestic conflict. Taking the historical developments into account, it seems reasonable to reduce the time interval for the death of the prince of Tillya-tepe to ca. A.D. 41-53, when the Sakas and other peoples of the north-eastern marches of Parthia were taking an active part in the battle of the Parthian giants.

The genetic legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India

Lopez, Saioa, Mark G Thomas, Lucy van Dorp, Naser Ansari-Pour, Sarah Stewart, Abigail L Jones, Erik Jelinek, Lounes Chikhi, Tudor Parfitt, Neil Bradman, Michael E Weale & Garrett Hellenthal. 2017. The genetic legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India: Insights into population structure, gene flow and selection. bioRXiv.

This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed.

Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest extant religions in the world, originating in Persia (present-day Iran) during the second millennium BCE. Historical records indicate that migrants from Persia brought Zoroastrianism to India, but there is debate over the timing of these migrations. Here we present novel genome-wide autosomal, Y-chromosome and mitochondrial data from Iranian and Indian Zoroastrians and neighbouring modern-day Indian and Iranian populations to conduct the first genome-wide genetic analysis in these groups. Using powerful haplotype-based techniques, we show that Zoroastrians in Iran and India show increased genetic homogeneity relative to other sampled groups in their respective countries, consistent with their current practices of endogamy. Despite this, we show that Indian Zoroastrians (Parsis) intermixed with local groups sometime after their arrival in India, dating this mixture to 690-1390 CE and providing strong evidence that the migrating group was largely comprised of Zoroastrian males. By exploiting the rich information in DNA from ancient human remains, we also highlight admixture in the ancestors of Iranian Zoroastrians dated to 570 BCE-746 CE, older than admixture seen in any other sampled Iranian group, consistent with a long-standing isolation of Zoroastrians from outside groups. Finally, we report genomic regions showing signatures of positive selection in present-day Zoroastrians that might correlate to the prevalence of particular diseases amongst these communities.

Source: The genetic legacy of Zoroastrianism in Iran and India: Insights into population structure, gene flow and selection. | bioRxiv

The Taking of the wāž and the Priestly College in the Zoroastrian Long Liturgy

Cantera, Alberto. 2016. The taking of the wāž and the priestly college in the Zoroastrian long liturgy. Journal Asiatique 304(1), 47–63.

Treasury Secretary at Persepolis

Stolper, Matthew W. 2017. From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, 6 The Dossier of Šarbaladda, Treasury Secretary at Persepolis. ARTA: Achaemenid Research on Texts and Archaeology 001. 1–33.

Since Hallock 1969 made available the first large sample of administrative documents from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, efforts to characterize the organization and operations of the institution that produced the Archive have sometimes noticed a man named Šarbaladda, called a ‘treasurer’ and perhaps a ‘scribe in the treasury’ in PF 1947:17 and 19. A growing sample of Elamite Fortification documents, now about
three times as large, allows reconsideration of his name, titles, location, status and work.

 

With Alexander in India and Central Asia

Antonetti, Claudia, & Paolo Biagi (ed.). 2017. With Alexander in India and Central Asia: Moving east and back to west. Oxbow Books.

Alexander conquered most parts of the Western World, but there is a great deal of controversy over his invasion of India, the least known of his campaigns. In BC 327 Alexander came to India, and tried to cross the Jhelum river for the invasion, but was then confronted by King Porus who ruled an area in what is now the Punjab. According to Indian history he was stopped by Porus at his entry into the country, but most of the world still believes that Alexander won the battle. Fearing the prospect of facing other large armies and exhausted by years of campaigning, Alexander’s army mutinied at the Hyphasis River, refusing to march farther east. This river thus marks the easternmost extent of Alexander’s conquests.
Twelve papers in this volume examine aspects of Alexander’s Indian campaign, the relationship between him and his generals, the potential to use Indian sources, and evidence for the influence of policies of Alexander in neighbouring areas such as Iran and Russia.

 

A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies