In recent years, exciting new discoveries of inscriptions and archaeological remains on the Arabian Peninsula have led to a re-evaluation of the peoples on the Arabian frontier, which through their extensive contacts with Rome and Persia are now seen as dynamic participants in the Late Antique world. The present volume contributes to this recent trend by focusing on the contrast between the ‘outside’ sources on the peoples of the frontier – the Roman view – and the ‘inside’ sources, that is, the precious material produced by the Arabs themselves, and by approaching these sources within an anthropological framework of how peripheral peoples face larger powers. For the first time, the situation on the Arabian frontier is also compared with that on the southern Egyptian frontier, where similar sources have been found of peoples such as the Blemmyes and Noubades. Thus, the volume offers a richly-documented examination of the frontier interactions in these two vibrant and critically-important areas of the Late Antique East.
For this blog, 2014 comes to an end with a little write up by Henkelman on the great city of ŠĪrāz. The blog will resume on 05 January 2015, publishing Adam Benkato’s much anticipated second part on Sogdian. And I have some plans for this blog, which I hope to realise in 2015 with the help of my friends and colleagues.
Happy New Year!
The last day of 2014 is busier than most other days on this blog:
Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2014. The genealogy of Artabanos II (AD 8/9–39/40), King of Parthia. Miscellanea Anthropologica et Sociologica 15(3). 92–97.
One of the most controversial issues in the Parthian history of the early 1st century AD is the lineage of Artabanos II. The resolution of this problem determines the image of Parthian history in the 1st century AD, moulded to a large extent by an internecine struggle for the legitimation of rival parties’ claim to power.
Read it here.
Herman, Geoffrey. 2014. Religious transformation between East and West: Hanukkah in the Babylonian Talmud and Zoroastrianism. In Wick, Peter & Volker Rabens (eds.), Religions and trade: Religious formation, transformation and cross-cultural exchange between East and West, 261–281. Leiden: Brill.
When religious traditions travel they tend to adapt to their new surroundings. Like new products seeking to penetrate a foreign market, they often undergo a process of modification and re-packaging that makes them comprehensible and inviting to their potential clientele. This can often be a subconscious process whereby the elements in the imported tradition that evoke more familiar local practices rise to prominence and develop further whereas others sink into the background. This article seeks to account for the development of the ritual observance of the festival of Hanukah, a festival that was brought from Judaea to Babylonia. It pinpoints the holiday’s evolution upon its reception in Babylonia. Observing similarities in ritual between the receiving community – Babylonian Jewry, and the prevalent practices found among the Zoroastrians of the region it suggests a connection between the two. This connection intimates that the ritual celebration of Hanukkah was radically and fundamentally transformed in its new religious environment as a result of its encounter with local religious custom.
Find the article here.
Gardner, Iain, Jason BeDuhn & Paul Dilley. 2014. Mani at the court of the Persian kings. Leiden: Brill.
In Mani at the Court of the Persian Kings the authors explore evidence arising from their project to edit the Chester Beatty Kephalaia codex. This new text presents Mani at the heart of Sasanian Iran in dialogue with its sages and nobles, acting as a cultural mediator between East and West and interpreter of Christian, Iranian, and Indian traditions. Nine chapters study Mani’s appropriation of the ‘law of Zarades’ and of Iranian epic; suggest a new understanding of his last days; and analyse his formative role in the history of late antique religions.
For more information, see here.
Sadeghi, Behnam, Asad Ahmed, Adam Silverstein & Robert Hoyland (eds.) 2014. Islamic cultures, Islamic contexts: Essays in honor of Professor Patricia Crone. Leiden/Boston: Brill.
This volume brings together articles on various aspects of the intellectual and social histories of Islamicate societies and of the traditions and contexts that contributed to their formation and evolution. Written by leading scholars who span three generations and
who cover such diverse fields as Late Antique Studies, Islamic Studies, Classics, and Jewish Studies, the volume is a testament to the breadth and to the sustained, deep impact of the corpus of the honoree, Professor Patricia Crone.
For more information, see the publisher’s website.
Cantera, Alberto. 2014. Repetitions of the Ahuna Vairiia and animal sacrifice in the Zoroastrian long liturgy. Estudios Iranios y Turanios 1. 25–29.
The Ahuna Vairiia prayer is never repeated three times in extant Avestan texts and also the Pahlavi literature excludes this number of repetitions. This is because three repetitions of the Ahuna Vairiia is the Avestan text used for the very centre of the Zoroastrian long liturgy: the slaughter of the sacrificial victim and the meat offerings to the fire. Here again, we discover the central importance of the sacrifice when the Avestan texts used in the long and short liturgies got their current shape. Further, it is shown a ritual parallelism between the slaughter of the victim and the pounding of the haōma.
The PDF of the article is here.
Khan, Geoffrey. 2014. Arabic documents from early Islamic Khurasan (Einstein Lectures in Islamic Studies 3). Berlin.