Tag Archives: Hellenism

Cross-Cultural Communication in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, and Western and South Asia

Canepa, Matthew P. 2017. “Cross-Cultural Communication in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, and Western and South Asia,” In Richard J. A. Talbert & Fred S. Naiden (eds.), Mercury’s Wings: Exploring Modes of Communication in the Ancient World, 249-272, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This chapter explores the dynamics of cross-cultural communication, primarily among the kingdoms and empires of Western and South Asia after Alexander the Great. This period witnessed the rise, conflict, coexistence and fall of a succession of cross-continental empires, including that of the Seleucids (312-64 BCE) and Mauryas (321-185), as well as powerful regional powers with larger ambitions such as the Ptolemies of Egypt, the Diodotids and Euthymids of Bactria (ca. 25o–ca. 145), Sungas (185-73), and a variety of Indo-Greek kingdoms (ca. 185 BCE–ca. 10 CE). Several new Iranian-speaking elites, including the Parni, Saka, and Yuezhi, descended from the Central Asian steppes and eventually formed the Arsacid, Indo-Scythian, and Kusana empires, respectively. These Macedonian, Indian, and Iranian powers engendered an intensive period of diplomatic interaction and cultural exchange. While this chapter focuses first on peer-polity diplomatic communication, it also explores the relationship between direct, intentional communicative acts and the wider contexts of cross-cultural interaction in which they took place and to which they often contributed.

Seleukid Royal Women

Seleukid Royal Women is introduced by our guest contributor Khodadad Rezakhani, a Humboldt Fellow at the Institute of Iranian Studies, Free University of Berlin.

Coskun, Altay & Alex McAuley (eds.). 2016. Seleukid royal women: Creation, representation and distortion of Hellenistic queenship in the Seleukid Empire (Historia, Einzelschriften 240). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Khodadad writes:

‘The study of any period of ancient history of Iran away from political history is a welcomed change in scholarship. The arrival of this volume, edited by two of the most prominent scholars of the Hellenistic period and in a framing that embraces the multi-cultural nature of the Seleukid kingship is a most exciting development that needs to be celebrated. It should also be considered as a blue-print for future studies of similar calibre and scope in other periods of the history of the region. Hopefully, the proliferation of such studies would bring the history of “in-between” (to quote the prologue) more to the attention of the general audiences, as well as the scholars, of the ancient world. Perhaps the volume could have benefited from more in-depth studies of the majority of the (non-Greek speaking) areas of the Seleukid domains, a lacuna which is perhaps more a fault of the experts of these non-Greek speaking in-betweens than the erudite editors of the volume’.

Continue reading Seleukid Royal Women

Arts of the Hellenized East

Carter, Martha, Prudence Harper & Pieter Meyers (eds.). 2015. Arts of the Hellenized East: Precious metalwork and gems of the pre-Islamic era. Thames & Hudson.

The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, houses one of the world’s most spectacular collections of ancient silver vessels and other objects made of precious metals. Dating from the centuries following Alexander the Great’s conquest of Iran and Bactria in the middle of the 4th century BCE up to the advent of the Islamic era, the beautiful bowls, drinking vessels, platters and other objects in this catalogue suggest that some of the best Hellenistic silverwork was not made in the Greek heartlands, but in this eastern outpost of the Seleucid empire. Martha L. Carter connects these far-flung regions from northern Greece to the Hindu Kush, tracing the common cultural threads that link their diverse geography and people. The last part of the catalogue, by Prudence O. Harper, deals with an important group of Sasanian silver vessels and gems, and some other rarities produced in the succeeding centuries for Hunnish and Turkic patrons. The catalogue is accompanied by an essay on the technology of ancient silver production by Pieter Meyers, who has performed a number of scientific tests on the objects, including a new metallurgical analysis that may help to identify their geographical origins.

Ideology, power and religious change in antiquity

Plakat_IPRCA2015Ideology, Power and Religious Change in Antiquity, 3000 BC – AD 600 (IPRCA)

International Summer School organized by Graduate School of Humanities Göttingen (GSGG)

20 – 24 July 2015, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Archäologisches Institut und Sammlung der Gipsabgüsse)

In the modern world, political as well as religious leaders make use of ideological messages to legitimize and advertise their power. Especially during periods of transformation and change, it is important for leaders to demonstrate their strengths and capacities in order to unify their subjects. By presenting themselves as the right men in the right place they could win their subjects’ loyalty and thus legitimize and safeguard their own positions. This practice is however not a modern invention, it is rooted in ancient traditions and habits.

The summer school focuses on ideological messages communicated by leaders in the ancient world (Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome, c. 3000 BC – AD 600) during periods of religious change (periods characterized by the rise, expansion or dominance of new religions, specific religious factions, sects or cults that caused changes in or threatened existing social, religious and/or power structures). Which messages were communicated by central and local authorities as well as specific religious authorities in these epochs? What do these messages tell us about the nature of power exercised by leaders?

The pre-arranged sessions to discusse the different subjects and questions are:

  • Session 1 Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Session 2 Ancient Anatolia, Levant and Iran
  • Session 3 Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World
  • Session 4 Roman Republic and Empire
  • Session 5 The Byzantine Empire

Programme:

Continue reading Ideology, power and religious change in antiquity

Hellenism and the Achaemenid Empire

Samiei, Sasan. 2014. Ancient Persia in Western History: Hellenism and the Representation of the Achaemenid Empire. (International Library of Iranian Studies 47). London: I.B. Tauris.
Ancient Persia in Western History is a measured rejoinder to the dominant narrative that considers the Graeco-Persian Wars to be merely the first round of an oft-repeated battle between the despotic ‘East’ and the broadly enlightened ‘West’. Sasan Samiei analyses the historiography which has skewed our understanding of this crucial era – contrasting the work of Edward Gibbon and Goethe, which venerated Classicism and Hellenistic history, with later writers such as John Linton Myres. Finally, Samiei explores the cross-cultural encounters which constituted the Achaemenid period itself, and repositions it as essential to the history of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Here you can have a look inside the book.
About the Autor:
Sasan Samiei completed his PhD in Iranian History at University College London and also holds an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE).