Tag Archives: History

The Eastern Frontier

Haug, Robert. 2019. The eastern frontier: Limits of empire in late antique and early medieval Central Asia (Early and Medieval Islamic World). London: I.B. Tauris.

Transoxania, Khurasan, and ?ukharistan – which comprise large parts of today’s Central Asia – have long been an important frontier zone. In the late antique and early medieval periods, the region was both an eastern political boundary for Persian and Islamic empires and a cultural borderseparating communities of sedentary farmers from pastoral-nomads.

Given its peripheral location, the history of the ‘eastern frontier’ in this period has often been shown through the lens of expanding empires. However, in this book, Robert Haug argues for a pre-modern Central Asia with a discrete identity, a region that is not just a transitory space or the far-flung corner of empires, but its own historical entity. From this locally specific perspective, the book takes the reader on a 900-year tour of the area, from Sasanian control, through the Umayyads and Abbasids, to the quasi-independent dynasties of the Tahirids and the Samanids. Drawing on an impressive array of literary, numismatic and archaeological sources, Haug reveals the unique and varied challenges the eastern frontier presented to imperial powers that strove to integrate the area into their greater systems. This is essential reading for all scholars working on early Islamic, Iranian and Central Asian history, as well as those with an interest in the dynamics of frontier regions.

An Introduction to the Ancient World

de Blois, Lukas & Robert J. van der Spek. 2019. An introduction to the ancient world (3rd Edition). London and New York: Routledge.

An Introduction to the Ancient World offers a thorough survey of the history of the ancient Near East, Greece and Rome. Covering the social, political, economic and cultural processes that have influenced later western and Near Eastern civilisations, this volume considers subjects such as the administrative structures, economies and religions of the ancient Near East, Athenian democracy, the development of classical Greek literature, the interaction of cultures in the Hellenistic world, the political and administrative system of the Roman Republic and empire, and the coming of Christianity, all within the broad outline of political history.
This third edition is thoroughly updated and some chapters are completely rewritten to cover recent historical research.

Tanbûr along the Silk Road

Zeeuw, Hans de. 2019. Tanbûr long-necked lutes along the Silk Road and beyond. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Tanbûr Long-Necked Lutes Along the Silk Road and beyond explores the origin, history, construction, and playing techniques of tanbûrs, a musical instrument widely used over vast territories and over many centuries. The diffusion of the tanbûr into the musical cultures along the Silk Road resulted in a variety of tanbûrs with two or more, occasionally doubled or tripled courses, a varying number and variously tuned frets, each having its own characteristic sound, playing technique, and repertory. Since the last century, tanbûrs spread beyond the Silk Road while new versions continue to appear due to changing musical and tonal demands made on them. Similar or identical instruments are also known by other names, such as saz or bağlama, dotâr or dutâr, setâr, dömbra, and dambura.

The Empires of the Near East and India

Khafipour, Hani. 2019. The empires of the Near East and India: Source studies of the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal literate communities. New York: Columbia University Press.

In the early modern world, the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal empires sprawled across a vast swath of the earth, stretching from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The diverse and overlapping literate communities that flourished in these three empires left a lasting legacy on the political, religious, and cultural landscape of the Near East and India. This volume is a comprehensive sourcebook of newly translated texts that shed light on the intertwined histories and cultures of these communities, presenting a wide range of source material spanning literature, philosophy, religion, politics, mysticism, and visual art in thematically organized chapters. Scholarly essays by leading researchers provide historical context for closer analyses of a lesser-known era and a framework for further research and debate. The volume aims to provide a new model for the study and teaching of the region’s early modern history that stands in contrast to the prevailing trend of examining this interconnected past in isolation.

Source: The Empires of the Near East and India | Columbia University Press

Cosmology, Law, and Elites in Late Antiquity

Scheunchen, Tobias. 2019. Cosmology, law, and elites in late antiquity: Marriage and slavery in Zoroastrianism, Eastern Christianity, and Islam (Arbeitsmaterialien zum Orient 32). Baden-Baden: Ergon Verlag.

Can elites use cosmological imagery to sanction marital and slavery practices for their political aspirations? Can interactions between Late Antique legal systems be thought beyond “borrowings?” This work studies legal writings from the Zoroastrian, East Syrian, and Islamic traditions arguing that Late Antique matrimonial and slavery practices were significantly informed by cosmological imagery and repeatedly brought in line with the elites’ political aspirations. It suggests that these legal traditions should be thought in a shared epistemic framework to account for the changes and meaningfulness of legal concepts and institutions and cannot simply be reduced to a narrative of borrowings. Instead, this book shows that interactions between Late Antique legal systems were more complex and characterized by patterns of negotiation and competition mirroring the various entanglements of the Late Antique citizen’s life.

Not the Queen Šābuhrduxtag but the Goddess Anāhitā

Goddess Anāhitā at the investiture of Narseh (c. 293-303), Naqš-e Rostam, Fārs, Iran

Tanabe, Katsumi. 2018. Not the Queen Šābuhrduxtag but the goddess Anāhitā: Identification of the female figure in the investiture scene of Narseh at Naqsh-i Rustam. Japan Society for Hellnistic-Islam Archaeological Studies 25. 9–26.

The rock-cut relief depicting the investiture scene of the Sasanian King of Kings, Narseh (293-302) at Naqsh-i Rustam in southern Iran has been investigated by many scholars since the beginning of the twentieth century CE . As regards the iconography of this relief, one of a few problems that have not yet gained scholarly consensus is the identification of the female figure depicted on the viewer’s rightmost side of the relief.

Currently there are two major hypotheses as regards the identification. One of them is to identify the female figure as the Zoroastrian goddess of water, Anāhitā (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā). The other is to identify it as the queen of Narseh, Šābuhrduxtag (Shāpuhrdukhtak).

Bulletin of the Asia Institute

Volume 28 of the Bulletin of the Asia Institute has been published.

To obtain a copy, please contact Carol Bromberg: bai34@comcast.net

Table of contents

  • Harry Falk, “The Five Yabghus of the Yuezhi”
  • Shai Secunda, “‘Lost Property to the King!’: The Talmudic Laws of Lost Property in the Shadow of Sasanian Bureaucracy”
  • Zhang Zhan,”Secular Khotanese Documents and the Administrative System in Khotan”
  • Salman Aliyari Babolghani,”What Was the Instrument That Zurwān Bestowed on Ahreman in the Wizīdagīhā ī Zādspram 1.29; 34.35?*”
  • Siam Bhayro, “A Jewish Aramaic Magic Bowl Containing the Formula of Ḥanina ben Dosa, and the Problem of Psalm 24:8b in the Magic Bowls”
  • Dieter Weber, “Pahlavi Documents of Windādburzmihrābād, the Estate of a Zoroastrian Entrepreneur in Early Islamic Times (With an Excursus on the Origin of the Fulanabad-Type of Village Names)”
  • Prods Oktor Skjærvø, “The Pahlavi Optative and Some Feminine Forms in īy”
  • Anca Dan, Frantz Grenet and Nicholas Sims-Williams, “Homeric Scenes in Bactria and India: Two Silver Plates with Bactrian and Middle Persian Inscriptions”

Reviews

  • Schrenk. Textilien des Mittelmeerraumes aus spätantiker bis früislamicher Zeit (CAB)
  • Von Fircks and Schorta. Oriental Silks in Medieval Europe (CAB)
  • Wang Bo, Wang Mingang, Minawar Happar, and Lu Lipeng. Textile Treasures of Zaghunluq. Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum (CAB)




Cities of Medieval Iran

Cities of medieval Iran, edited by David Durand-Guédy, Roy P. Mottahedeh & Jürgen Paul has been published, as vol. 16, issue 1–2 of the journal Eurasian Studies (2018).

Table of contents

Religious change among the Safavids

Stickel, Farida. 2019. Zwischen Chiliasmus und Staatsraeson: Religiöser Wandel unter den Safaviden (Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten 70). Boston, MA: De Gruyter.

Die Arbeit geht dem religiösen Wandel in Iran unter den Safaviden nach. Dabei wird nicht die Verkündung der Schia als offizieller Religion 1501 in den Mittelpunkt gestellt. Vielmehr werden die Safaviden kontextualisiert, der religiöse Wandel selbst anhand beteiligter Akteure, Auswirkungen auf religiöse Institutionen und Legitimation von Herrschaft sowie der Übersetzung in Architektur und Performanz von Ritualen nachgezeichnet.

Die Grenzen des Großkönigs?

Börm, Henning. 2018. Die Grenzen des Großkönigs? Überlegungen zur arsakidisch-sasanidischen Politik gegenüber Rom. In Frank Schleicher, Timo Stickler & Udo Hartmann (eds.), Iberien zwischen Rom und Iran. Beiträge zur Geschichte und Kultur Transkaukasiens in der Antike (Oriens et Occidens 29). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Dreizehn Jahre lang beherrschte Severus Alexander das Reich in tadelloser Weise, soweit es ihn betraf. Im vierzehnten Jahr aber trafen unerwartet Berichte der Statthalter Syriens und Mesopotamiens ein und enthüllten, dass Artaxerxes, der König der Perser, die Parther besiegt und ihr östliches Reich erobert hatte (…). Er blieb nun aber nicht ruhig auf seiner Seite des Tigris, sondern (…) überrannte Mesopotamien und bedrohte Syrien. Er wollte nämlich die ganze Landmasse, die Europa gegenüberliegt und durch die Ägäis und das Marmarameer von ihm getrennt wird, und das ‚Asien‘ genannte Gebiet für das Persische Reich zurückgewinnen. In dem Glauben, diese Gegenden von seinen Vorfahren geerbt zu haben, erklärte er, alle Länder dieses Gebietes, einschließlich Ionien und Karien, seien einst von persischen Statthaltern regiert worden, von der Herrschaft des Kyros, der als erster das Medische zum Persischen Reich gemacht hatte, bis zu Dareios, dem letzten Perserkönig, dessen Reich Alexander der Makedone zerstört hatte.

About the book:

Die Geschichte und Kultur Transkaukasiens in der Antike steht im Fokus dieses Bandes, der die neuesten Forschungsergebnisse aus der Alten Geschichte, der Archäologie und der Orientalistik vereint. Ziel ist es, das antike Kaukasien stärker in den Fokus der Forschung zu rücken: Die Region liegt zwar an der Peripherie der alten Welt, stellt zugleich aber auch eine zentrale Kontakt- und Konfliktzone zwischen Rom und Iran dar.

Im ersten Teil des Bandes stehen historische Fragen im Vordergrund, die von Problemen der Chronologie und Herrscherlisten über die Machtausdehnung der Römer und Perser bis zu deren Politik gegenüber den kaukasischen Völkern reichen. Im zweiten Teil geht es um Aspekte der religiösen Entwicklung, insbesondere um die Christianisierung Iberiens (heute Georgien) seit dem vierten Jahrhundert und die Rückwirkung dieser Vorgänge auf die beiden spätantiken Imperien. Der dritte Teil ist den neuesten archäologischen Befunden gewidmet.