This book discusses the alphabetic scribes (sēpiru) mentioned in Mesopotamian documents of the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid periods – specifically, of the 6th-5th centuries bce. The period in question saw a wide diffusion of writing in the Northwest Semitic alphabetic script – mostly in Aramaic – in Mesopotamia; yet, alphabetic texts were normally written in ink on perishable materials and did not survive to be discovered by modern archaeologists. In contrast, cuneiform tablets written on clay have been found in large numbers, and they document different aspects of the alphabetic scribes’ activities. This book presents evidence for understanding the Akkadian term sēpiru as a designation for an alphabetic scribe and discusses the functions of these professionals in different administrative and economic spheres. It further considers the question of the ethnic origins of the alphabetic scribes in Mesopotamia, with special attention to the participation of Judeans in Babylonia in this profession. Bloch also provides translations of over 100 cuneiform documents of economic, legal and administrative content.
From 550 to 330 BCE, the Achaemenid empire conquered different regions and united them under the rule of its king. To finance its military expeditions, its administration and its building projects, the empire extracted taxes from the peoples it ruled. But was there a common fiscal system uniting Babylonia, Egypt, Iran, Asia Minor, Bactria, etc., managed by a corps of administrators and agents imposing Achaemenid rules? This workshop will bring together specialists of archeological and written sources from different provinces of the empire to discuss the problems associated with this question and to present the realities of the local peoples living in of the Achaemenid empire.
Volume eight of “Anabasis“, edited by Marek Jan Olbrycht is out now. Several papers and reviews of this issue are related to ancient Iran:
Boucharlat, Rémy. 2018. Les traces archéologiques des palais achéménides de Hamadan. Arta 2018.002.
Several tens of incomplete column bases and fragments of column drums and stone capitals testify to the existence of several hypostyle halls on the Hamadan site. The majority of the pieces presented here, often little known, come from Tépé Hegmateneh in the north-east of the modern city center. However, the important excavations on this hill did not reveal any level of Achaemenid times. The buildings of this period must then be sought elsewhere, perhaps on the other nearby hill, Tépé Mosalla.
ÁLVAREZ-PEDROSA, Juan Antonio , Flavia POMPEO & Maria Carmela BENVENUTO (eds.). 2017. Del Indo al Egeo. Relaciones culturales y lingüísticas en el interior del Imperio aqueménida, Madrid: Guillermo Escolar Editor.
This book is a product of the project entitled «Indios y Griegos en la corte de los Aquemenidas. Analisis de un contacto cultural (IGCA) – Indians and Greeks in the Achaemenid Court. A Cross-cultural Analysis (IGAC)», coordinated by Juan Antonio Álvarez-Pedrosa Núñez (referentia FFI2013-41023-P, sponsored as part of the ‘Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación 2013-2016’).
Here is the Spanish abstract:
Los estudios que conforman este volumen abarcan un rango muy variado de contactos culturales y lingüísticos que se produjeron en el interior del Imperio aqueménida. La estructura descentralizada de su administración favoreció todo tipo de contactos. Igualmente lo hizo el reconocimiento por sus gobernantes de su carácter multilingüe, multinacional y multirreligioso y la flexibilidad con la que gobernaron todas estas complejas realidades.
El Imperio aqueménida contaba con núcleos particularmente activos en su vida cultural. Uno estaba constituido por las capitales del Imperio: Susa, Ecbátana, Persépolis, Pasargadas y Babilonia, donde radicaban la lengua propia de la realeza y la aristocracia, el antiguo persa, que coexistía con lenguas como el acadio. En Anatolia, se configura un núcleo cultural importante en las capitales de las satrapías más occidentales, Sardes y Dascilio, con una influencia fuerte de la cultura griega. Parece claro que al Oriente se va creando un núcleo bactro-céntrico, con una importancia especial de la ciudad de Bactra.
También es cierto que el uso del arameo como lengua franca de la administración y el comercio facilitó enormemente el cáracter descentralizado y flexible del gobierno aqueménida y, sin duda, pavimentó el camino para la difusión del griego en el periodo helenístico.
En definitiva, se trata de in mundo cultural de una riqueza y complejidad sin parangón, que puede dar lugar a sucesivos hallazgos científicos que nos permitirán conocerlo más y mejor.
Source: Guillermo Escolar Editor.
For the table of contents, see here.
Stolper Matthew W. 2018. Intercalary months in Achaemenid Elamite administrative documents from Persepolis. In C. Jay Crisosotomo, Eduardo A. Escobar, Terri Tanaka, & Niek Veldhuis (eds.), The scaffolding of our thoughts: Essays on Assyriology and the history of science in honor of Francesca Rochberg, 296–316. Leiden: Brill.
Surveys current evidence from the Persepolis Fortification Archive and the Persepolis Treasury Archives on intercalation: terminology, usage, attestations.
Delshad, Soheil. 2017. Report on inscribed fragments excavated from drainage system of Southern courtyard of Tačar. In Asadi, A. and M. Mansouri (eds.), Excavation reports of the third season of archaeological excavations at Persepolis drainage system, 121–135. Persepolis World Heritage Site.
During the second and third seasons of excavations at Persepolis drainage system (led by A. Asadi and M. Mansouri), three inscribed fragments have been excavated. The exact findspot of those fragments is the water channel at the southern courtyard of Tačara Palace. The first two fragments have been found during the third season of excavations (i.e., 1396: 2017) and the third fragment has been revealed to the excavators in the second season (i.e., 1393: 2014).
دلشاد، سهیل. 1396. گزارش خردهکتیبه های شناسایی شده از آب راه حیاط جنوبی تچر. گزارش فصل سوم کاووشهای باستانشناختی آبراهههای تخت جمشید (ا. اسدی-م. منصوری)، پایگاه میراث جهانی تخت جمشید، صفحات 121-135.
Garrison, Mark B., Charles E. Jones, and Matthew W. Stolper. 2018. Achaemenid Elamite Administrative Tablets, 4: BM 108963. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 77(1), 1-14.
Faust, Avraham. 2018. Forts or agricultural estates? Persian period settlement in the territories of the former kingdom of Judah. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 150 (1), 34-59.
The territories of the former kingdom of Judah were only sparsely settled during the Persian period, as exemplified by the extreme rarity of domestic structures unearthed in excavations. Viewed against this background, the large number of excavated forts and isolated administrative buildings from this period is remarkable, and they apparently outnumber the period’s excavated dwellings. Not only is this an extremely unlikely situation, but various lines of evidence, pertaining to specific sites as well as to the phenomenon as a whole, render the possibility that all these structures were forts or administrative buildings re-examines implausible. Consequently, this article reexamines the phenomenon within the social landscape of the region in particular, and of the Achaemenid empire in general, in an attempt to embed those unique buildings within the broader demographic and political reality of this time. Given the location of many of the sites and the finds unearthed in them, and in light of the demographic reality in the region and of the broader Achaemenid imperial policy, the article suggests that most of the so-called forts were estates, created in the process of the resettlement of this previously devastated region.
The present volume is a collection of articles published in English by Professor Pierre Briant of the Collège de France, in various forms over the past three decades. Pierre Briant has been instrumental in the recent revival of Achaemenid history, and the way in which he has achieved this is instructive for the future generations of historians to come. One can state that Briant’s approach to history is very much in the French tradition: it engages with both narration and a thorough historiographical methodology, making his work so distinctively rigorous and compelling at the same time. Another important contribution made by Briant’s work concerns the changing scholarly interpretations of the relations between the Achaemenids and Alexander in the longue durée. Since the major corpus of Pierre Briant’s work was originally composed in French, I thought that it would be beneficial to many English-speaking students, as well as educated readers and experts in the field, to have access to these important essays in a single volume. I have tried to keep articles in their original publication format and style, wherever possible. This volume is a special tribute to an important historian of our time, from which current and future students of Persia will have much to learn.