Tag Archives: Archaeology

The Concept of Monument in Achaemenid Empire

Soheil, Mehr Azar. 2019. The concept of monument in Achaemenid Empire. New York: Routledge.

The aim of this book is to explore the significance of the concept of ‘monument’ in the context of the Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC), with particular reference to the Royal Ensemble of Persepolis, founded by Darius I and built together with his son Xerxes. While Persepolis was built as an ‘intentional monument’, it had already become an ‘historic monument’ during the Achaemenid period. It maintained its symbolic significance in the following centuries even after its destruction by Alexander of Macedonia in 330 BC. The purpose of building Persepolis was to establish a symbol and a common reference for the peoples of the Empire with the Achaemenid Dynasty, transmitting significant messages and values such as peace, stability, grandeur and praise for the dynastic figure of the king as the protector of values and fighting falsehood.
While previous research on Achaemenid heritage has mainly been on archaeological and art-historical aspects of Persepolis, the present work focuses on the architecture and design of Persepolis. It is supported by studies in the fields of archaeology, history and art history, as well as by direct survey of the site. The morphological analysis of Persepolis, including the study of the proportions of the elevations, and the verification of a planning grid for the layout of the entire ensemble demonstrate the univocal will by Darius to plan Persepolis following a precise initial scheme. The study shows how the inscriptions, bas-reliefs and the innovative architectural language together express the symbolism, values and political messages of the Achaemenid Dynasty, exhibiting influence from different lands in a new architectural language and in the plan of the entire site.

The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands

Javier Álvarez-Mon. 2019. The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands: A Complete Inventory and Analysis (from the Seventeenth to the Sixth Century BC). Eisenbrauns.


The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands documents and analyzes for the first time a corpus of eighteen monumental highland reliefs from the Elamite civilization in ancient Iran, which—hitherto preserved by their remote location and anonymous existence—have recently become imperiled by an influx of tourists and the development of the surrounding landscapes. With this book, Javier Álvarez-Mon aims to safeguard this important part of Iran’s cultural heritage.
The eighteen reliefs presented in this volume are spread across the valley of Izeh/Malamir (Xong-e Azdhar, Shah Savar, Shekaft-e Salman, and Kul-e Farah), the Ghale Tol plain (Qal-e Tul), the Mamasani Fahliyan river region (Kurangun), and the Marvdasht plain (Naqsh-e Rustam). In his analysis of these reliefs, Álvarez-Mon draws from the complementary disciplines of art history and archaeology, giving equal weight to the archaeological context of these artifacts and traditional methods of artistic analysis in order to determine the nature and significance of each artifact’s form and theme. At the same time, the book’s dual emphases on ritual-religious and aesthetic-ecological phenomena respond to the contemporary challenges of the dissociation of human existence from nature and the commodification of the environment on an unsustainable scale, presenting the preservation of this remarkable corpus of monumental art as a matter of urgency.


Richly illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and line drawings, The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands is sure to become an invaluable reference to scholars who study the Elamite and other ancient civilizations.

IRANICA ANTIQUA, VOLUME 53

The table of contents of the latest issue (53) of the journal Iranica Antiqua:

The Temples of Anāhīd at Estakhr

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2018. The Temples of Anāhīd at Estakhr (Southern Iran): Historical Documents and Archeological Evidence. In
Juraj Belaj et al. (ed.), Sacralization of Landscape and Sacred Places: Proceedings of the 3rd International Scientific Conference of Mediaeval Archaeology of the Institute of Archaeology, Zagreb, 2nd and 3rd June 2016 [Zbornik Instituta za Arheologiju 10], 179-194 , Zagreb: Institute of Archaeology.

This essay deals with the location of the Achaemenid and Sasanian temples of Anāhīd at Estakhr, the capital of Persis/Fārs province in southern Iran. Relevant texts from Achaemenid and Sasanian epigraphic sources, classical literature, and Islamic historical and geographical writings are interpreted, followed by a survey of the archaeological sites at Estakhr and its environs, which have been suggested by other scholars to be in connection with the temples of Anāhīd. In this survey, I will criticise a new speculative hypothesis on the location of the temples and argue where in fact these temples were located.

Iconographic Exegesis of Anthropomorphic Zoroastrian Deities

Farridnejad, Shervin. 2018. Die Sprache der Bilder: Eine Studie zur ikonographischen Exegese der anthropomorphen Götterbilder im Zoroastrismus (Iranica 27). Harrassowitz-verlag.

Einer in der Forschung weit verbreiteten Meinung zufolge existierte im Alten Iran keine zoroastrische Kunst. In Sprache der Bilder nun untersucht Shervin Farridnejad Darstellungen altiranischer anthropomorpher Gottheiten und deren Erscheinung im zoroastrischen Pantheon mit der methodischen Herangehensweise einer exegetischen Ikonographie.
Farridnejad zeichnet die Darstellungsweise und Entwicklung der zoroastrischen Götterbilder nach und analysiert den Ursprung ihrer Ikonographie innerhalb der iranischen religiösen Bildsprache, insbesondere im Wechselspiel mit den in der schriftlich überlieferten Tradition bewahrten religiösen Ideen. Der Autor widmet sich in seiner umfassenden und reich bebilderten Studie den teilweise komplex aufgebauten Götterbildern, die als vielschichtige Bedeutungsträger im religiösen Leben der alten Zoroastrier eine große Rolle spielten. Darüber hinaus ermittelt er allgemeine formale Strukturen, beleuchtet ihre Genese und erforscht den „Sitz im Leben“ der Götterbilder, indem er vor allem die literarische Überlieferung des zoroastrischen Corpus im Avestischen und Mittelpersischen berücksichtigt. Farridnejad bietet so erstmals einen umfassenden, methodisch fundierten Überblick über die zoroastrische Bildersprache im Kontext von Religion und Kultur des vorislamischen Iran.

The Iron Age in southern Central Asia

Lhuillier, Johanna & Nikolaus Boroffka (eds.). 2018. A millennium of history. The Iron Age in southern Central Asia (2nd and 1st millennia BC). Proceedings of the conference held in Berlin (June 23–25, 2014). Dedicated to the memory of Viktor Ivanovich Sarianidi (Archeology in Iran and Turan 17). Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.

The volume gives a comprehensive insight into the Iron Age in southern Central Asia, whose beginning and end are marked by two major cultural changes: the end of Bronze Age urban societies with their large burial grounds and the conquest of Central Asia by Alexander the Great. Central to this is the incorporation of this region into the Achaemenid-Persian empire. Profound social changes in settlement, technology, and spiritual life can be linked to the emergence of the Avesta and the Zoroastrian religion, which became the official religion of the Persian Empire. A new look at texts and archaeological research demonstrates the complete incorporation of Bactria and Sogdia into the Achaemenid Empire during the 6th century BC.

Continue reading The Iron Age in southern Central Asia

How Did the Persian King of Kings Get his Wine

Comfort, Anthony & Michal Marciak. 2018. How did the Persian King of Kings get his wine? The Upper Tigris in antiquity (C.700 Bce to 636 Ce). Archaeopress Archaeology.

How did the Persian King of Kings Get His Wine? the upper Tigris in antiquity (c.700 BCE to 636 CE) explores the upper valley of the Tigris during antiquity. The area is little known to scholarship, and study is currently handicapped by the security situation in southeast Turkey and by the completion during 2018 of the Ilısu dam. The reservoir being created will drown a large part of the valley and will destroy many archaeological sites, some of which have not been investigated. The course of the upper Tigris discussed here is the section from Mosul up to its source north of Diyarbakır; the monograph describes the history of the river valley from the end of the Late Assyrian empire through to the Arab conquests, thus including the conflicts between Rome and Persia. It considers the transport network by river and road and provides an assessment of the damage to cultural heritage caused both by the Saddam dam (also known as the Eski Mosul dam) in Iraq and by the Ilısu dam in south-east Turkey. A catalogue describes the sites important during the long period under review in and around the valley. During the period reviewed this area was strategically important for Assyria’s relations with its northern neighbours, for the Hellenistic world’s relations with Persia and for Roman relations with first the kingdom of Parthia and then with Sassanian Persia.

Historia I Świat

Issue seven of Historia i Świat (2018) has been published. A number of the contributions relate to Iranian Studies.

A Watchtower of the late Sasanian Period on the outskirts of Veh Ardashir

Messina, Vito. 2018. A watchtower of the late Sasanian period on the outskirts of Veh Ardashir (Coche). In Paolo de Vingo (ed.), Le archeologie di Marilli. Studi in memoria di Mariamaddalena Negro Ponzi Mancini (Mnème. Documenti, culture, storia del mediterraneo e dell’oriente antico 12), 95–104. Torino: Edizioni dell’Orso.
In 1964 the Centro Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi di Torino per il Medio Oriente e l’Asia started field research at Seleucia on the Tigris, the Babylonian capital of Seleucid Asia, built in an area where other important capitals such as Parthian Ctesiphon and Sasanian Veh Ardashir were founded, and which is still called in Arabic al- Madā’in (the cities). The city, founded at the end of the 4th century BC, appears to have been the main centre of inner Asia in the Seleucid period and maintained its pivotal role even during the Parthian age (half of the 2nd century BC – beginning of the 3rd century AD), being progressively abandoned from the last quarter of the 2nd century AD, for the nearby bourg of Ctesiphon, grown in importance in the AD centuries as the Parthian capital of the region. Afterwards, during the reign of Ardashir I (AD 224-241), the new Sasanian capital, Veh Ardashir (Coche), vied with Ctesiphon for regional dominance and finally prevailed.

Archaeological traces of the Achaemenid palaces of Hamadan

Boucharlat, Rémy. 2018. Les traces archéologiques des palais achéménides de HamadanArta 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.