Tag Archives: History

Ram horns as sacral royal regalia of Šāpūr II

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2018. Ram horns as sacral royal regalia of Šāpūr II. Istorìâ relìgìj v Ukraïnì: Naukovij šorìčnik 28(1). 17–29.

The work of Ammianus Marcellinus preserved valuable information on ancient Iran. Ammianus describes the arrival of šāhānšāh Šāpūr II (r. 309-379) under the walls of Amida, besieged by the Iranians. He informing that the king of Iran wore specific crown/helmet decorated with the ram’s horn. It seems that the helmet of the Sasanian monarch is associated with the person of Alexander of Macedon. In Iranian tradition the heroic picture of Alexander is based on the so-called Alexander Romance, also the Syriac legend of Alexander of Macedon, was written in the 6th century A.D. or in the first half of the 7th century A.D. The article analyzes the picture of Alexander in Pahlavi literature chronologically closer to the reign of Šāpūr II. The subject of research are also representations of Iranian kings with the ram’s horn. It must be accepted that teh specific decoartion of the helmet of Šāpūr II, described by Ammianus Marcelinus canot be anyhow associated with the person of Alexander but results from Iranian ideology of royal power.

Bīsotūn and the French Enlightenment

Potts, Daniel Thomas. 2018. Bīsotūn and the French enlightenment. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1–32.

This study examines a little-known case of Enlightenment knowledge transmission centred on the rock-cut monument of Darius I at Bīsotūn in western Iran. It discusses a report on the monument published by the cartographer and historian Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville, which originated with the Decalced Carmelite monk Emmanuel de Saint-Albert (born Jean-Claude Ballyet); who transmitted it to Isaac Bellet, a doctor involved in secret negotiations in Constantinople; who in turn sent it to Louis, Duke d’Orléans, in Paris; who passed it on to d’Anville. The collison of scholarly interest, political service and scientific personality offers a fascinating case study of the Enlightenment ‘republic of letters’ in action.

The article is available on academia.edu.

Greco-Persian Relations 499-490 BC

Stronk, Jan P. 2016/2017. From Sardis to Marathon. Greco-Persian relations 499–490 BC: A review. Part one: Up to and including the fall of EretriaTalanta 48-49, 133-184.

The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, which was commemorated at Athens on 6 Boedromion (and at present celebrated on 12 September), may be regarded as one of the defining moments in the history of the ancient polis of Athens. The battle was the culmination point of developments that started about the middle of the sixth century BC, but really took shape shortly after 500 BC. In this paper, which will be published in two parts, we shall follow various circumstances and actions involving the Achaemenid Empire (briefly described as Persia) and Greek poleis which ultimately led to the Battle of Marathon. As the Persian sources available in order to draw a more comprehensive picture of those occurrences at the end of sixth and the first decade of the fifth centuries BC relating to the Greco-Persian controversies than can be obtained from Herodotus’ account alone.His story remains to this day the main literary source for most People investigating the events in that period. In this first part, we shall discuss the occurrences up to and including the fall of Eretria. In the second part, due to appear in Talanta 51(-52), we next pay attention to the Battle of Marathon and its implications.

A Proposal for the Identification of the Sasanian commander Mermeróēs

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2017. A new proposal for the identification of the Sasanian commander Mermeróēs of Byzantine sources: Šāpur of Ray from Mehrān. In Mitko Panov (ed.), The Byzantine missionary activity and its legacy in Europe, 93–98. Skopje: Euro-Balkan University.

Šāpur of Ray, known also as Mermeroes in Procopius’ and Agathias’ narratives, was the spāhbed in the battles of Dara (June 530) and Satala (summer 530). In 542 he was dispatched by Xusrō I Anōšīrvān (r. 531–579) against the Byzantine fortress of Dara. In 548 Šāpur of Ray was sent at the head of a large army to relieve the fortress of Petra in Lazica, which was under siege by a combined Byzantine-Lazic force. He died of his illness at Mtskheta in the summer of 555. According to Ṭabarī at the time of Sukhrā’s fall, Šāpur of Ray was supreme Commander of the land (iṣbahbadh al-bilād). If we allow identification of Sukhrā and Siāwoš, the last commander of Iranian army with the title of Artēštārān sālār, then we must state that, after removing Sukhrā, Šāpur of Ray also held a high military rank until the military reforms of Xusrō I Anōšīrvān.

Studies on the History of Rationality in Ancient Iran

König, Götz. 2018. Studien zur Rationalitätsgeschichte im älteren Iran. Ein Beitrag zur Achsenzeitdiskussion (Iranica 26). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Although the idea of ​​a Euro-Asiatic Axial Age can be traced back to the pioneer Iranian philologist Anquetil Duperron, ancient Iran plays in the 20th-century axle-time theory founded by Karl Jaspers, which revolves around the comprehension and explanation of ‘rationality’ usually only a minor role.
In his investigations of the ancient Iranian history of rationality, Götz König firtsly points out which theory-immanent factors in Jaspers’ basic text On the Origin and Aim of History (1949) may have favored this forgetting. Sample analyzes show how, through minimal changes in the ritual, a change in the constellation of mental faculties, or the replacement of a metaphysical concept with a legal concept of order, ways (in the ancient East as well as then in Western Iran) are opened up Align center categories. A concluding study of the dialectics of the Axial Age shows how the period of the Achaemenids (6th-4th century BC) may in various ways be regarded as the actual Axis time of Iran, but ultimately fails to meet its own rational standards and wrong.
See the table of contents and the introduction of the volume here.
Table of Contents
  • Zur Einleitung
  • Besichtigung der Jaspers’schen Elemente einer Theorie der Achsenzeit
  • Die minime Abweichung Zu einer indo-iranischen Ritualdifferenz und ihren Folgen
  • Daēnā, Xratu und das Moment des Schauens Wissenserwerb im älteren und mittleren Zoroastrismus
  • Gefügtes – Gesetztes. Überlegungen zur Genese von Darius’ manā dāta– „mein Gesetz“
  • Die Dialektik der Achsenzeit Von der Objektwerdung des Subjektes im achämenidischen Iran

König und Gefolgschaft im Sasanidenreich

Börm, Henning. 2018. König und Gefolgschaft im Sasanidenreich. Zum Verhältnis zwischen Monarch und imperialer Elite im spätantiken Persien. In Wolfram Drews (ed.), Die Interaktion von Herrschern und Eliten in imperialen Ordnungen (Das Mittelalter. Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung. Beihefte 8), 23–42. Boston/Berlin: De Gruyter.

This article examines the relationships between rulers and imperial elites in late antique Sasanian Iran, focusing on the significance and implications of complex groups of followers. Not unlike their Parthian predecessors, the Sasanian kings of the pre-Islamic empire relied on a network of personal relationships with the imperial elite. The magnates (vuzurgān), in turn, had many followers (bandagān) of their own; they were, apparently, often rather independent when residing in their own lands. Still, this does not imply that the late antique Persian monarchy was weak, because the Sasanian kings managed to turn the court into a central location of aristocratic competition where the imperial elite struggled for offices, honors and influence. This allowed the monarch to play off rival individuals and groups against each other – one is tempted here to speak of a “Königsmechanismus” (Norbert Elias), even though the weaknesses of this model are certainly well known. In general, this strategy became problematic only if infighting escalated into civil war. However, the later Sasanians tried to curtail the influence of the vuzurgān by imposing a tax reform, establishing a standing royal army, and creating a new lower nobility (dehgānān) in order to strengthen the power of the central government. The paper demonstrates that, in spite of short-term success, these measures seem to have led to a long-term erosion of loyalty within the kingdom, thus contributing to the triumph of the Arab conquerors in the seventh century CE.

Chinese Sources and the Sasanians

This article is currently published in the online publication section of Iranian Studies, thus the journal's reference as volume 0, issue 0. I am unsure whether in time it will become part of the printed version or not.

Zanous, Hamidreza Pasha & Esmaeil Sangari. 2018. The last Sasanians in Chinese literary sources: Recently identified statue head of a Sasanian prince at the Qianling mausoleum. Iranian Studies 0(0). 1–17.

Qianling Mausoleum (乾陵) which is located in the northwest of Xi’an, is the tomb of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty (唐高宗, r. 649–83 AD) and his Empress Wu Zetian (武則天, r. 690–705 AD). In this mausoleum, there are two statues of Pērōz, son of Yazdegird III (632–51 AD), and another Persian nobleman who have been recognized by western scholars. However, scholars’ attention has been limited to a general and mistaken description of the statues. This paper reassesses both statues in order to give some new insight into the head of one of the statues found at the Qianling Mausoleum.

Problems of Chronology in Gandhāran Art

Rienjang, Wannaporn & Peter Stewart (eds.). 2018. Problems of chronology in Gandhāran art. Oxford: Archaeopress Publishing.

This volume, being the proceedings of the first international workshop of the Gandhāra Connections Project, which took place 23rd-24th March, 2017, at the University of Oxford, is available as an open access eBook and in print.

Since the beginning of Gandhāran studies in the nineteenth century, chronology has been one of the most significant challenges to the understanding of Gandhāran art. Many other ancient societies, including those of Greece and Rome, have left a wealth of textual sources which have put their fundamental chronological frameworks beyond doubt. In the absence of such sources on a similar scale, even the historical eras cited on inscribed Gandhāran works of art have been hard to place. Few sculptures have such inscriptions and the majority lack any record of find-spot or even general provenance. Those known to have been found at particular sites were sometimes moved and reused in antiquity. Consequently, the provisional dates assigned to extant Gandhāran sculptures have sometimes differed by centuries, while the narrative of artistic development remains doubtful and inconsistent.

Building upon the most recent, cross-disciplinary research, debate and excavation, this volume reinforces a new consensus about the chronology of Gandhāra, bringing the history of Gandhāran art into sharper focus than ever. By considering this tradition in its wider context, alongside contemporary Indian art and subsequent developments in Central Asia, the authors also open up fresh questions and problems which a new phase of research will need to address.

The Elamite World

Álvarez-Mon, Javier, Gian Pietro Basello & Yasmina Wicks (eds.). 2018. The Elamite World (Routledge Worlds). London: Routledge.

Amongst the civilizations to participate in the dynamic processes of contact and interchange that gave rise to complex societies in the ancient Near East, Elam has remained one of the most obscure, at times languishing in the background of scholarly inquiry. In recent years, however, an increasing body of academic publications have suggested that the legacy of Elam was more considerable and long-lasting than previously estimated.

The Elamite World assembles a group of forty international scholars to contribute their expertise to the production of a solid, lavishly illustrated, English language treatment of Elamite civilization, covering topics such as its physical setting, historical development, languages and people, material culture, art, science, religion and society. Also treated are the legacy of Elam in the Persian empire and its presence in the modern world.

This comprehensive and ambitious survey seeks for Elam, hardly a household name, a noteworthy place in our shared cultural heritage. It will be both a valuable introductory text for a general audience and a definitive reference source for students and academics.

Continue reading The Elamite World

Iran: A Modern History

Amanat, Abbas. 2018. Iran: A modern history. Yale University Press.

his history of modern Iran is not a survey in the conventional sense but an ambitious exploration of the story of a nation. It offers a revealing look at how events, people, and institutions are shaped by currents that sometimes reach back hundreds of years. The book covers the complex history of the diverse societies and economies of Iran against the background of dynastic changes, revolutions, civil wars, foreign occupation, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.

Abbas Amanat combines chronological and thematic approaches, exploring events with lasting implications for modern Iran and the world. Drawing on diverse historical scholarship and emphasizing the twentieth century, he addresses debates about Iran’s culture and politics. Political history is the driving narrative force, given impetus by Amanat’s decades of research and study. He layers the book with discussions of literature, music, and the arts; ideology and religion; economy and society; and cultural identity and heritage.

Abbas Amanat is professor of history and international studies at Yale University and director of the Yale Program in Iranian Studies at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. He lives in North Haven, CT.

Source: Iran by Abbas Amanat – Yale University Press