Tag Archives: History

Revisiting the Location of Pṛga in the Behistun Inscription

Doroodi, Mojtaba & Farrokh Hajiani. 2018. Revisiting the location of Pṛga in the Behistun inscription on the basis of its etymology and an examination of historico-geographical texts. The Journal of Indo-European Studies 46 (3-4), 265–289.

A multitude of geographical names are referred to in the Behistun Inscription. Despite the fact that scholars have put considerable effort in locating the current sites of many of these places, there is a shroud of mystery hanging over some. A mountain called Parga, the battlefield of King Darius with Vahyazdāta, is one of them. Some researchers have identified it with Forg District which seems to be an erroneous assumption. This study, while convincingly refuting the aforementioned assumption, tries to propound and prove a new idea as regards the whereabouts of Prga. In reaching this goal, the authors have benefited from etymological and historical evidence and have examined the original inscription in Old Persian, Elamite, Babylonian, and Aramaic. The results of this study indicate that what is now called Shahrak-e Abarj in the Marvdasht Plain could be the real location of Prga referred to in the Behistun Inscription.

The Worst Revolt of the Bisitun Crisis

Wijnsma, Uzume. 2018. The worst revolt of the Bisitun crisis: A chronological reconstruction of the Egyptian revolt under Petubastis IVJournal of Near Eastern Studies 77 (2), 157–173.

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 des Mittelalters (Das Mittelalter. Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung. Beihefte 8), 23–42. 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.

Persian Martyrs Mar Behnam and Sarah

Saint-Laurent, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon & Kyle Smith (eds.). 2018. The history of Mar Behnam and Sarah. Martyrdom and monasticism in medieval Iraq (Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation 7). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press.

The History of Mar Behnam and Sarah tells the story of two siblings who convert to Christianity under the tutelage of Mar Mattai, a monastic leader and wonderworker from the Roman Empire. After the children refuse to worship pagan gods, they are killed by their own father, the Persian king. Strangely, he is identified as Sennacherib the Assyrian, a pre-Christian ruler better known from the biblical Book of Kings. This is not the only chronological oddity with the text. Although Behnam and Sarah is set in the fourth century, during the golden age of martyrdom in the Sasanian Empire, the text was not composed until hundreds of years later. The composition of the narrative about the two martyrs seems to have coincided with the construction of a twelfth-century shrine that was built in their honor by Syrian Orthodox monks on the Nineveh Plain, near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The beautiful martyrium, which housed intricate relief sculptures and inscriptions in several languages, was an important pilgrimage site for Christians, Muslims, and Yezidis until it was destroyed in 2015.

In this volume of the “Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac” series, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent and Kyle Smith provide the first critical edition and English translation of this fascinating martyrdom narrative, a text that was once widely popular among numerous communities throughout the Middle East.

Eastern Manicheism as Reflected in its Book and Manuscript Culture

Özertural, Zekine & Gökhan Silfeler (eds.). 2018. Der östliche Manichäismus im Spiegel seiner Buch- und Schriftkultur. Vorträge des Göttinger Symposiums vom 11./12. März 2015 (Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Neue Folge 47). Berlin: De Gruyter.

This volume examines the gnostic-syncretic religion of Eastern Manicheism in China, Iran, and Turkish central Asia. After a scholarly introduction to the religious theory of Manicheism, the essays probe questions of its transmission and cultural interactions with Latin, Coptic, and Arabic Manicheism.

Civilization of Iran: Past, Present, Future

Callieri, Pierfrancesco & Adriano Valerio Rossi (eds.). 2018. Civiltà dell’Iran: passato, presente, futuro (atti del Convegno Internazionale Roma, 22-23 febbraio 2013); (Il novissimo Ramusio 6). Roma: Scienze e lettere.
This book is a collection of papers presented at the international conference “Civiltà dell’Iran: passato, presente, futuro” took place in 2013 at Sapienza Università di Roma and Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale ‘Giuseppe Tucci’.

Continue reading Civilization of Iran: Past, Present, Future

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.

Sasanian Iran in the context of Late Anitquity

Daryaee, Touraj (ed.). 2018. Sasanian Iran in the context of Late Anitquity: The Bahari lecture series at the Oxford University (Ancient Iran Series VI). Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.
The essays in this volume discuss various aspects of the Sasanian Empire, presented on the occasion of the inauguration of the Bahari Chair in Sasanian Studies at Oxford University in 2014.
  • Michael Alram: “The Numismatic Legacy of the Sasanians in the East”
  • Matthew P. Canepa and Johnathan W. Hardy: “Persian Palace Architecture, Garden Design and Digital Archaeology”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “The Tripartite Sasanian Vision of the World”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Books without Ritual – Ritual without Books”
  • Giusto Traina: “The Rise of the Sasanians”
  • Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina: “A Father, a Daughter, and a Son-in-Law in Zoroastrian Hermeneutics”
  • Arash Zeini: “The King in the Mirror of the Zand

Looking East: Iranian History and Culture under Western Eyes

Looking East: Iranian History and Culture under Western Eyes

The latest issue of journal Electrum features  Electrum, with the issue gathering the contribution of the workshop “Looking History: Iranian History and Culture under Western Eyes” held at 2016 in Ravenna, Italy.

Electrum, Volume 24 (2017)

  • Paolo Ognibene: “Sguardi incrociati greco-scitici”
  • Christopher Tuplin: “War and Peace in Achaemenid Imperial Ideology”
  • Francesca Gazzano: “The King’s speech. La retorica dei re persiani fra Eschilo, Erodoto e Tucidide”
  • Federicomaria Muccioli: “Peucesta, tra lealismo macedone e modello persiano”
  • Omar Coloru: “Potere e territorio. Gli Achemenidi nei Geographikà di Strabone”
  • Leonardo Gregoratti: “Corbulo versus Vologases: A Game of Chess for Armenia”
  • Eran Almagor: “Plutarch and the Persians”
  • Edward Dąbrowa: “Tacitus on the Parthians”
  • Tommaso Gnoli: “Mitrei del Vicino Oriente: una facies orientale del culto misterico di Mithra”
  • Giusto Traina: “L’Armenia di Ammiano Marcellino”
  • Andrea Piras: “Persianao, mago e guerriero. Note sulla caratterizzazione di Mani e dei manichei nelle fonti greco-latine del IV secolo”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Iranica nella Disputatio de Christo in Persia”
  • Andrea Gariboldi: “Pratiche economiche e monetali nei documenti pahlavi del Tabaristān (VIII sec.)”
  • Reviews

 

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.