Waters, Matt. 2017. Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern context (Wisconsin Studies in Classics). University of Wisconsin Press.
The Persica is an extensive history of Assyria and Persia written by the Greek historian Ctesias, who served as a doctor to the Persian king Artaxerxes II around 400 BCE. Written for a Greek readership, the Persica influenced the development of both historiographic and literary traditions in Greece. It also, contends Matt Waters, is an essential but often misunderstood source for the history of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.
Matt Waters is a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550–330 BCE and A Survey of Neo-Elamite History.
In this book Reinhard Pirngruber provides a full reassessment of the economic structures and market performance in Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. His approach is informed by the theoretical insights of New Institutional Economics and draws heavily on archival cuneiform documents as well as providing the first exhaustive contextualisation of the price data contained in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. Historical information gleaned from the accounts of both Babylonian scholars and Greek authors shows the impact of imperial politics on prices in form of exogenous shocks affecting supply and demand. Attention is also paid to the amount of money in circulation. Moreover, the use of regression analysis in modelling historical events breaks new ground in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and gives new impetus to the use of modern economic theory. The book explains the theoretical and statistical methods used so that it is accessible to the full range of historians.
Including twelve English, French, and German papers originally presented at a colloquium convened by Jean Kellens at the Collège de France (2013), this volume addresses a range of issues relating to Persian religion at the time of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BCE). Moving away from the reductive question whether the Achaemenid kings were Zoroastrians or not, the contributors have tried to focus either on newly identified or recently published sources (Central Asian archaeological finds, Elamite texts and seal impressions from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, Aramaic texts from Bactria, the Persepolis Bronze Plaque), or on current (and ongoing) debates such as the question of the spread of the so-called long liturgy to western Iran. In doing, different perspectives are chosen: whereas some have stressed the Iranian or Indo-Iranian tradition, others have pointed out the importance of the Elamite and Assyro-Babylonian contexts. At the same time, the volume shows a broad agreement in its insistence on the essential position of primary sources, problematic as they may be, and on the important role the Achaemenid rulers and the imperial project played in the evolution of Iranian religion.
The Persians held sway over the Greek imagination for more than 200 years. The image of Persia shifted in that time from xenophobic hostility, caused through fear of the encroaching presence of the Persian empire, through to curious acceptance of its dominance. Much study has been given to the formative decades of the construction of the Persian “Other” in Greek art, but the fourth-century image of Persia has remained relatively unexplored. This paper demonstrates how Greek artists of the period 380–330 BCE fixated on the life and accomplishments of the court of the Achaemenid Great Kings and argues that instead of offering an orientalist clichéd view of Persian life, it attempted to understand and disseminate bone fide Iranian images of court society.
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.
For the orientation in space and the linguistic expression of spatial relations of objects, different coordination systems can be used. One of these systems utilizes fixed cardinal directions. The four compass points north, south, east and west constitute the cardinal directions of our absolute frame of reference. Did the Old Iranians employ the same frame of reference likewise with these compass points?
After the representation of different coordination systems, absolute, intrinsic and relative, the paper addresses the Old Iranian absolute frame of reference. By means of the orientation of Achaemenian palaces, the order of countries in the Old Persian list of nations as well as Avestan linguistic evidence, it will be demonstrated that the Old Iranian people did not used our todays compass points for their orientation in space, but employed a different absolute frame of reference. The paper will present the cardinal directions of this system.
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Kianoosh Rezania is a professor of Western Asian Religious Studies at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
The Greek’s view of Persia and the Persians changed radically throughout the archaic and classical period as the Persians turned from noble warriors to peacock-loving cross-dressers. This book traces the development of a range of responses to the Achaemenids and their empire through a study of ancient texts and material evidence from the archaic and classical periods. Janett Morgan investigates the historical, political and social factors that inspired and manipulated different identities for Persia and the Persians within Greece. She offers unique insights into the role of Greek social elites and political communities in creating different representations of the Achaemenid Persians and their empire.
About the author: Janett Morgan is an interdisciplinary ancient Greek historian. Her research focuses on material culture and its representation in ancient texts, investigating the ways in which individuals, groups and communities in Greece and Achaemenid Iran used architecture and artefacts to create religious, social and political identities and to express differences. She is the author of The Classical Greek House (Bristol Phoenix Press, 2010).
The Achaemenid Persian imperial rulers have long been held to have exercised a policy of religious tolerance within their widespread provinces and among their dependencies. The fourteen articles in this volume explore aspects of the dynamic interaction between the imperial and the local levels that impacted primarily on local religious practices. Some of the articles deal with emerging forms of Judaism under Achaemenid hegemony, others with Achaemenid religion, royal ideology, and political policy toward religion. Others discuss aspects of Phoenician religion and changes to Egyptian religious practice while another addresses the presence of mixed religious practices in Phrygia, as indicated by seal imagery. Together, they indicate that tolerance was part of political expediency rather than a universal policy derived from religious conviction.
In this book, Louis C. Jonker considers more sophisticated and nuanced models for applying the heuristic lens of “identity” in the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible book of Chronicles. Not only does he investigate the potential and limitations of different sociological models for this purpose, but the author also provides a more nuanced analysis of the socio-historical context of origin of late Persian-period biblical literature by distinguishing between four levels of socio-historic existence in this period. It is shown that varying power relations were in operation on these different levels which contributed to a multi-levelled process of identity negotiation. Louis C. Jonker shows the value of the chosen methodological approach in his analysis of Chronicles, but also suggests that it holds potential for the investigation of other Hebrew Bible corpora.
Louis C. Jonker Born 1962; BA, HonsBA, MA, BTh, LicTheol and DTh from University of Stellenbosch; since 2010 Professor in Old Testament at the University of Stellenbosch; Congress Secretary of the 2016 meeting of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament (IOSOT).
This is the first book to explore the importance of agriculture in relation to the restoration of the Jerusalem temple in the Book of Haggai during the Achaemenid period. Scholars discussing the rebuilding of the temple have mainly focused on the political and social context. Additionally,the missions of Ezra and Nehemiah have been used as a basis for analysing the economy of postexilic Judah. This has, however, understated the wider socio-economic significance of the temple by disregarding the agricultural capacity of Judah.
The Book of Haggai is primarily concerned with agriculture and the temple. This analysis of Haggai includes an examination of the temple’s reconstruction from a historical and economic point of view, with agriculture playing a central role. Archaeological records are examined and show that prized commodities such as olives and grapes were produced in and around Jerusalem in large quantities and exported all over theancient Near East.
This book is intended to shed new light on the value of agriculture for the people of Judah and the whole imperial economy. It also presents a new interpretation of the Book of Haggai and a new perspective on the temple economy in Jerusalem.
Jieun Kim finished her second PhD at the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh in November 2013. After receiving her first PhD from Yonsei University, she taught for several years in Seoul as a lecturer and an assistant professor. She is currently an independent scholar and her next research project will focus on land ownership in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.