Procopius’ Persian Tales: entertainment, history or morality fable?
Geoffrey Greatrex (Ottawa) will consider the opening chapters of the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea’s Persian Wars, in which he introduces his theme, the wars fought between the Romans and Sasanian Persians in the sixth century A.D. He recounts a series of intriguing stories about the Persian court and Persian history in the fifth and early sixth centuries. The puzzle remains as to how seriously these tales should be taken…
Date & time: 25 April 2014; 17:30
Location: AIIT, Cambridge
Richard Neslon Frye, the Aga Khan Professor of Iranian Studies Emeritus, who passed away on 27 March 2014, has unfortunately become the subject of a political row in Iran. It is good to remember him for what he was, a scholar with a unique and refreshing style and a sharp eye for methodology:
There is always the danger in Avestan studies of seizing upon a device or a theory as the key to the understanding of that enigmatic book to the exclusion of all contrary evidence (which is declared corrupt and untrustworthy), proclaiming that the true meaning of the Avesta lies in this key. Johannes Hertel is the shining example of a competent Indo-Iranian philologist who proposed his Feuerlehre as the key to the understanding of both the Avesta and the Vedas. His ubiquitous fire was not taken seriously by others but his linguistic skill in support of fire was impressive. Just as Th. Noeldeke said of Pahlavi, “In Pehlewi stumpfen wir alle”, so the Avesta may drive all who study it slightly mad.
Frye, Richard Nelson. 1960. Georges Dumézil and the translators of the Avesta. Numen 7(2). 161–171.
See here for an obituary at the HARVARDgazette and here for one by Burzine Waghmar.
The Sasanian empire as a garden: The walls and rivers of the Sasanian Empire
This lecture by Touraj Daryaee (UCI) looks at the physical and ideological boundaries which the Sasanians created for the idea of Iranshahr. In this late antique construct, inside the empire, protected by walls and rivers was imagined as a garden where order and beauty was in existence. Outside of the walls and the rivers it was seen as place of wilderness and disorder. This binary division was at the centre of Sasanian ideology which projected peace and power inside, while danger for its people lay outside of its boundaries.
Speaker: Touraj Daryaee (UCI)
Where: AIIT, Cambridge
When: 23 May 2014, 17:30.
Go east, young man! A personal journey
In this informal talk the Chair of the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Nicholas Sims-Williams, will describe his research on the Sogdian language and literature, in particular on the Christian texts from the Turfan oasis in Western China, and will try to answer a question which he is often asked: What led you to study such an obscure subject?
Speaker: Nicholas Sims-Williams (SOAS)
Where: AIIT, Cambridge
When: 16 May 2014
Rezakhani, Khodadad & Michael Morony. 2014. Markets for land, labour and capital in late antique Iraq, AD 200-700. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 57. 231–261.
Read the article here. Abstract:
Lack of direct evidence on the functioning of factor markets in Sasanian/Late Antique Iraq makes it difficult to present a clear picture of the production side of economy during this period. However, relying on the Talmudic evidence, as well as what is men-tioned in the Mādayān ī Hezār Dādestān (MHD), this article aims to provide an idea of factor markets during the Sasanian period, as well as demonstrating the areas where further evidence and research could render better results and allow us to understand the economy of this region in more depth.
Andrés-Toledo, Miguel Ángel & Alberto Cantera. 2012. Manuscripts of the Wīdēwdād. In Alberto Cantera (ed.), The transmission of the Avesta (Iranica 20), 207–243. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Read the article here.
The The International Dunhuang Project‘s (IDP) series of A Few of Our Favourite Things is now complete. The 20 contributions cover a wide range of manuscripts found at Dunhuang, featuring among others objects discussed by Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst, Nicholas Sims-Williams and Prods Oktor Skjærvø.
Dr Dieter Weber to speak on Reading history anew: Pahlavi documents from early-Islamic times at the School of History, University of St Andrews on Thursday 3 April 2014 at 5.15pm.
For Dr Weber’s list of publications, see here.
Potts, D. T. 2014. Nomadism in Iran: From antiquity to the modern era. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
For details, see here. Abstract:
A completely new approach to nomadism in Iran, one which rejects the identification of nomads in the archaeological record of the Neolithic and Bronze Age (c. 8000-1200 BC). Emphasizes the fundamental changes brought about by major influxes of nomads from outside the region, beginning in the 11th century.
Hintze, Almut. 2013. Perceptions of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. In: E. Pirart (ed.), Le sort des Gâthâs et autres études iraniennes in memoriam Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin (Acta Iranica 54), 53–73. Leuven – Paris – Walpole, MA: Peeters.
Read the article here.