Tag Archives: Achaemenid Empire

The Egypto-Persian king and the presentation of dominion in the Achaemenid era

Wasmuth, Melanie. 2017. Ägypto-persische Herrscher- und Herrschaftspräsentation in der Achämenidenzeit.  Franz Steiner Verlag.

Iconographic and textual treatments are at the centre of Achaemenid studies which identify the Persian Great King as sovereign of Egypt. Melanie Wasmuth declares there are fundamental and  wide-spreading sources in Egypt that one possibly could advantage to investigate Persian rulership over Egypt.
At least for Darius I, considering the sources, one can see, a ruler could play four different roles: as a Persian Great King, as an Egyptian pharaoh, as an Egyptian god and as Egypto-Persian ruler. Notably, the combination of two absolute concept of Persian Great King and Egyptian pharaoh into one notion, Egypto-Persian ruler, sheds the lights on strategies of the presentation of dominion and cross-cultural construction of identity. In Persis, the focus is primarily on the representation of the claim to global power as a Persian Great King. However, an Egypto-Persian kingship is propagated in the Achaemenid empire at least since Xerxes and explicitly in the context of the reintegration of Egypt by Artaxerxes III.

There is also an appendix written by Wouter Henkelman entitled “Egyptians in the Persepolis Archives”, available on his page on academia.edu.

Abstract by Yazdan Safaee, based on the German original.

Latest issue of Iranian Studies

Latest issue of Iranian Studies (Vol 50, No 2) has three papers, related to our website’s interest, as follows:

Ali Bahadori: “Achaemenid Empire, Tribal Confederations of Southwestern Persia and Seven Families

Many tribes lived in southwestern Persia during the Achaemenid period. The region was crucial for the Persian empire in that almost all roads connecting the two capitals of Persepolis and Susa run through it. The policy adopted by the Achaemenids for controlling this tribal region was to establish tribal confederations headed by men loyal to the king such as Madates and Gobryas. The Achaemenid king reinforced these tribal confederations by political marriages. Sisygambis, the mother of Darius III, was presumably an Uxian. This is why she was an ideal person to negotiate with Alexander of Macedon to free the Uxians headed by Madates, also probably an Uxian. Gobryas, the head of the Patischorian tribe, was one of the seven who rebelled against Bardiya/Gaumāta according to the Bisotun inscription and Herodotus. The Persepolis Fortification texts appear to show that the region between modern Bāsht and Ardakān called the Fahliyān region or Shulestān was the territory of this tribe. Irdabama, presumably the daughter of Gobryas born from his marriage with daughter of a local dynast, was married by Darius I in order to maintain Achaemenid control over this tribal region.

Amir Ahmadi: “A Gāthic Rite? A Critique of the Cosmological Interpretation of the Gāthās I

In the last few decades ritual interpretation of the Gāthās has replaced the biblical one as the dominant paradigm. The emphasis on the central role of ritual in the Avesta is well justified. This realization has given rise to the question of the role and meaning of ritual in the Gāthās. Marijan Molé had tried to argue that the Gāthās in fact describe and accompany a rite whose purpose was the preservation/renovation of the cosmic order. Students of the Gāthās working within the new paradigm have taken up Molé’s general frame. They have tried to show that the Gāthās, collectively or individually, is the text of a particular rite that served, among others, to preserve the cosmic order, especially the daily rise of the sun. The article questions the validity of this thesis. Its focus is on the version of the thesis we find in a number of recent publications by Jean Kellens. He tries to show that the first Gāthā (Ahunauuaitī) describes a unitary pre-dawn ritual that comprised a haoma rite and an animal sacrifice, and had cosmological and eschatological pretensions. His textual analyses and arguments are examined in some detail. The article concludes that Kellens’s attempt must be deemed unsuccessful.

D Gershon Lewental: “The Death of Rostam: Literary Representations of Iranian Identity in Early Islam

 

The death of the Persian dynast Rostam b. Farrokh-Hormozd at the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah during the Arab-Islamic conquest of Iran received much attention in both the Islamic conquest literature and the Persian epic tradition canonized in the Shāh-nāmeh. A careful examination of the narratives of early Islamic history teaches us much about the mindset of those living in the first centuries following the momentous events of the seventh century. By removing the layers of literary embellishment and moralistic exegesis, we can understand better the impact of the death of this Sāsānian dynast. In addition, by comparing the narrative traditions, we can uncover valuable testimony regarding the early development of what might later be described as an Islamic Iranian identity.

The Arshama project

The Arshama Project is not new, but since it is a valuable resource for the study of Achaemenid history, we would like to introduce it briefly.

The parchment letters of the Persian prince Arshama to Nakhthor, the steward of his estates in Egypt, are rare survivors from the ancient Achaemenid empire. These fascinating documents offer a vivid snapshot of linguistic, social, economic, cultural, organisational and political aspects of the Achaemenid empire as lived by a member of the elite and his entourage. The letters give unique insight into cultivation and administration, unrest and control, privileged lifestyles and long-distance travel. Arshama’s letters to Nakhthor, two leather bags and clay sealings, entered the Bodleian Library in 1944. These pages are a result of a collaboration between the Bodleian Libraries and scholars from the AHRC funded project Communication, Language and Power in the Achaemenid Empire: The correspondence of the satrap Arshama.

The result of the project, a volume entitled The Arshama Letters from the Bodleian Library, is openly accessible on the Publications tab.

More information can be found here and on the Arshama project website.

Semiramis’ Legacy

Stronk, Jan p. 2016. Semiramis’ Legacy: The History of Persia According to Diodorus of Sicily (Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Persia). Edinburgh University Press.

There are only a few detailed histories of Persia from Ancient Greek historiography that have survived time. Diodorus of Sicily, a first century BC author, is the only one to have written a comprehensive history (the Bibliotheca Historica or Historical Library) in which more than cursory attention is paid to Persia. The Bibliotheca Historica covers the entire period from Persia’s prehistory until the arrival of the Parthians from the East and that of Roman power throughout Asia Minor and beyond from the West, around 750 years after Assyrian rule ended.

Diodorus’ contribution to our knowledge of Persian history is therefore of great value for the modern historian of the Ancient Near East and in this book Jan Stronk provides the first complete translation of Diodorus’ account of the history of Persia. He also examines and evaluates both Diodorus’ account and the sources he used to compose his work, taking into consideration the historical, political and archaeological factors that may have played a role in the transmission of the evidence he used to acquire the raw material underlying his Bibliotheca.

Continue reading Semiramis’ Legacy

The battle of Arbela in 331 BCE

Rollinger, Robert. 2016. “The battle of Arbela in 331 BCE, Disloyal “Orientals” and the Alleged “Panic” in the Persian Army: from Neo-Assyrian kings to Alexander III“, in: Saana Svärd and Robert Rollinger (eds.), Cross-cultural Studies in Near Eastern History and Literature, 213-242, Münster.

The Burning of Greek Temples by the Persians

Rung, Eduard. 2016. “The Burning of Greek Temples by the Persians and Greek War-Propaganda“, in Krzysztof Ulanowski (ed.), The Religious Aspects of War in the Ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome (Ancient Warfare Series Volume 1), Leiden; Boston: Brill, 166–179.

 

 

Silver, Money and Credit

Kleber, Kristin & Reinhard Pirngruber (eds.). 2016. Silver, Money and Credit. A Tribute to Robartus J. van der Spek on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday on 18th September 2014. Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten.

 

“Silver, Money and Credit” gathers a collection of contributions by leading specialists on the role of silver in Ancient Mesopotamia. The volume is a tribute to Robartus J. van der Spek, professor emeritus at the VU University Amsterdam.

The thematic core area is the documentation concerning silver in cuneiform sources from first millennium BC Babylonia, and how this vast body of primary sources can be employed in order to shed light on aspects of the economy. It thus coincides with the honouree’s main area of research. The volume is rounded off by comparative material mainly from other periods in Mesopotamian history, rendering justice to his broad range of interest. The scope of the volume thus extends from the first written records on the use of silver in Uruk to the Neo-Babylonian Empire’s apogee in the sixth century BC and further to insights to be gained from comparisons with early modern economies.

Continue reading Silver, Money and Credit

Achaemenids and Greeks

omslagDahlén, Ashk (ed.). 2016. Antikens Persien. Umeå: H:ström Text & Kultur.

The  Achaemenian Empire was the first of the Persian Empires to become an important political and economic power in the ancient world for more than two hundred years. It transformed the entire area from the Greek islands in the west to Central Asia in the east to a continuous trading with efficient infrastructure and monetary economics. However Greco-Persian Wars, also often called the Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and Greek city-states that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. , and as long overshadowed the western image of the Ancient Persia.

This volume is the first introduction to the Achaemenid Empire in Swedish. It is dedicated to Swedish archeologist, professor Carl Nylander and is a tribute to his pioneering work in the field of early Achaemenid archeology.

“Antikens Persien” covers a range of interrelated topics such as political history, multiculturalism, architecture, language, and literature. Its aim is provide a general introduction to ancient Persia for Swedish readers and also to highlight the diverse and flourishing interactions between Persians and Greeks in various fields.

Table of Contents:

  • Förord
  • Lennart Lind: “Persien och Grekland”
  • Johan Mårtelius: “Arkitektur och konst”
  • Bo Utas: “Språk och litteratur”
  • Ashk Dahlén: “Kosmopolitism och mångkultur”
  • Vidare läsning
  • Appendix: Bilder

About the Editor:

Ashk Dahlén (PhD 2002) is Associate Professor in Iranian Languages at Uppsala University and founding president of the Scandinavian Society for Iranian Studies. Among his research interests are classical Persian literature, Iranian cultural history, mythology, religions, and historical continuities between ancient and medieval Iran.

A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire, new edition

Dandamaev, M. A. 2015. A political history of the Achaemenid Empire (Historical Library). Saint Petersburg: Academy of Cultural Studies. 3rd (2nd Russian) Edition.

The first edition of this book was published in 1985 in Russian. It was translated into English in 1989. The second Russian edition of this classic work deals with the political history of the Achaemenid Empire in a chronological manner. The volume draws on the main primary sources and secondary literature in its attempt to offer a comprehensive discussion of the political history of the Achaemenid Empire, which arose in the sixth century BC and lasted more than two centuries.  The book’s English translation received eight reviews, including Briant’s critical article, which Dandamaev discusses in the preface. The author has updated his book, considering the reviews and the scholarship that have been published in the past two decades.

The table of contents and preface are here.

In general:

М.А. Дандамаев. Политическая история Ахеменидской державы. 3-е (2-е русское) изд. СПб: «Академия Исследования Культуры». 2015 (Историческая библиотека).

Levantine Epigraphy from the Achaemenid Period

Papyrus with an Aramaic translation of the Behistun inscription's text
Papyrus with an Aramaic translation of the Behistun inscription’s text

Lemaire, André. 2015. Levantine epigraphy and history in the Achaemenid period (539-332 BCE). First edition. (Schweich Lectures on Biblical Archaeology 2013). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

Inscriptions discovered since 1980 and fresh epigraph research have revealed much about the Archaeminid period in the Levant (533-332 BCE). André Lemaire concentrates on three areas where new data has shed light on the societies living in the largest empire that the world had known to that date.

Phoenicia played a vital political and economic role in the empire because Persian kings had to rely on the Phoenician navy in their wars against Greece and Egypt in the Eastern Mediterranean. Newly discovered inscriptions from Byblos, Sidon and Tyre, as well as the results of research into coins, have illuminated the chronology, history and extent of the Phoenician kingdoms, as well as their influence in Palestine.

New inscriptions have added to our knowledge of the Judean Diaspora in Babylonia, Egypt and Cyprus. The main indirect information about the Exiles previously available to us was in the book of Ezekiel. Now, epigraphic data has revealed not only many names of Exiles but how and where they lived and more about their relationship with Jerusalem.

The third region described is the Persian provinces of Samaria, Judaea and Idumaea, especially during the 4th century BCE. The publication of various, mainly Aramaic, contemporary inscriptions on papyri, ostraca, seals, seal-impressions and coins, sheds new light on the daily life and religion of these provinces. The insciptions help us to understand something of the chronology, society and culture of these three different provinces as well as several Biblical texts in their historical and economic contexts.

With over 90 inscriptions illustrated and fully transcribed, this book provides new insight into a period that has proved difficult to study.

Table of Contents:

  • Levantine epigraphy and Phoenicia: the kingdoms of Aradus, Byblos, Sidon and Tyre during the Achaemenid period
  • West Semitic epigraphy and the Judean Diaspora during the Achaemenid period: Babylonia, Egypt, Cyprus
  • Levantine epigraphy and Samaria, Judaea and Idumaea during the Achaemenid period

About the Author:

André Lemaire (Sorbonne, Paris) has worked, first as a researcher in the French National Center for Scientific Research and later as “directeur d’études ” in the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne, Paris), in the field of West Semitic epigraphy, Levantine history and Hebrew Bible in the first millennium BCE, for more than forty years. He has published many new Hebrew, Aramaic and Phoenician inscriptions as well as new historical interpretations. He is especially interested in the connection between West Semitic epigraphy and the Biblical tradition and was a member of the Editorial board of Vetus Testamentum for 36 years.