Sauer, Eberhard. 2017. Sasanian Persia: Between Rome and the steppes of Eurasia. Edinburgh University Press.
The Sasanian Empire (3rd-7th centuries) was one of the largest empires of antiquity, stretching from Mesopotamia to modern Pakistan and from Central Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. This mega-empire withstood powerful opponents in the steppe and expanded further in Late Antiquity, whilst the Roman world shrunk in size. Recent research has revealed the reasons for this success: notably population growth in some key territories, economic prosperity, and urban development, made possible through investment in agriculture and military infrastructure on a scale unparalleled in the late antique world.
The author: Eberhard Sauer is Professor of Roman Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, having previously taught at the Universities of Leicester and Oxford.
Ando, Clifford & Seth Richardson (eds.). 2017. Ancient states and infrastructural power: Europe, Asia, and America (Empire and After). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
While ancient states are often characterized in terms of the powers that they claimed to possess, the contributors to this book argue that they were in fact fundamentally weak, both in the exercise of force outside of war and in the infrastructural and regulatory powers that such force would, in theory, defend. In Ancient States and Infrastructural Power a distinguished group of scholars examines the ways in which early states built their territorial, legal, and political powers before they had the capabilities to enforce them.
The volume brings Greek and Roman historians together with specialists on early Mesopotamia, late antique Persia, ancient China, Visigothic Iberia, and the Inca empire to compare various models of state power across regional and disciplinary divisions. How did the polis become the body that regulates property rights? Why did Chinese and Persian states maintain aristocracies that sometimes challenged their autocracies? How did Babylon and Rome promote the state as the custodian of moral goods? In worlds without clear borders, how did societies from Rome to Byzantium come to share legal and social identities rooted in concepts of territory? From the Inca empire to Visigothic Iberia, why did tributary practices reinforce territorial ideas about membership?
Source: Ancient States and Infrastructural Power | Clifford Ando, Seth Richardson
Antonetti, Claudia, & Paolo Biagi (ed.). 2017. With Alexander in India and Central Asia: Moving east and back to west. Oxbow Books.
Alexander conquered most parts of the Western World, but there is a great deal of controversy over his invasion of India, the least known of his campaigns. In BC 327 Alexander came to India, and tried to cross the Jhelum river for the invasion, but was then confronted by King Porus who ruled an area in what is now the Punjab. According to Indian history he was stopped by Porus at his entry into the country, but most of the world still believes that Alexander won the battle. Fearing the prospect of facing other large armies and exhausted by years of campaigning, Alexander’s army mutinied at the Hyphasis River, refusing to march farther east. This river thus marks the easternmost extent of Alexander’s conquests.
Twelve papers in this volume examine aspects of Alexander’s Indian campaign, the relationship between him and his generals, the potential to use Indian sources, and evidence for the influence of policies of Alexander in neighbouring areas such as Iran and Russia.
Strootman, Rolf & Miguel John Versluys (eds.). 2017. Persianism in antiquity (Oriens et Occidens 25). Franz Steiner Verlag.
The socio-political and cultural memory of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire played a very important role in Antiquity and later ages. This book is the first to systematically chart these multiform ideas and associations over time and to define them in relation to one another, as Persianism. Hellenistic kings, Parthian monarchs, Romans and Sasanians: they all made a lot of meaning through the evolving concept of “Persia”, as the twenty-one papers in this rich volume illustrate at length.
Persianism underlies the notion of an East-West dichotomy that still pervades modern political rhetoric. In Antiquity and beyond, however, it also functioned in rather different ways, sometimes even as an alternative to Hellenism.
For the contributions, see the Table of Contents. The introductory essay to Persianism in Antiquity, entitled From culture to concept: The reception and appropriation of Persia in antiquity, is available through Rolf Strootman’s Academia page.
Source: Persianism in antiquity | Franz Steiner Verlag
Pirngruber, Reinhard. 2017. The economy of late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. Cambridge University Press.
In this book Reinhard Pirngruber provides a full reassessment of the economic structures and market performance in Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. His approach is informed by the theoretical insights of New Institutional Economics and draws heavily on archival cuneiform documents as well as providing the first exhaustive contextualisation of the price data contained in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. Historical information gleaned from the accounts of both Babylonian scholars and Greek authors shows the impact of imperial politics on prices in form of exogenous shocks affecting supply and demand. Attention is also paid to the amount of money in circulation. Moreover, the use of regression analysis in modelling historical events breaks new ground in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and gives new impetus to the use of modern economic theory. The book explains the theoretical and statistical methods used so that it is accessible to the full range of historians.
Source: The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia | Reinhard Pirngruber
Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2017. ReOrienting the Sasanians: East Iran in late antiquity (Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Persia). Edinburgh University Press.
Central Asia is commonly imagined as the marginal land on the periphery of Chinese and Middle Eastern civilisations. At best, it is understood as a series of disconnected areas that served as stop-overs along the Silk Road.
However, in the mediaeval period, this region rose to prominence and importance as one of the centres of Persian-Islamic culture, from the Seljuks to the Mongols and Timur.
Khodadad Rezakhani tells the back story of this rise to prominence, the story of the famed Kushans and mysterious ‘Asian Huns’, and their role in shaping both the Sasanian Empire and the rest of the Middle East.
Source: ReOrienting the Sasanians – Edinburgh University Press
This historical study argues that the Mandaean religion originated under Sasanid rule in the fifth century, not earlier as has been widely accepted. It analyzes primary sources in Syriac, Mandaic, and Arabic to clarify the early history of Mandaeism. This religion, along with several other, shorter-lived new faiths, such as Kentaeism, began in a period of state-sponsored persecution of Babylonian paganism. The Mandaeans would survive to become one of many groups known as Ṣābians by their Muslim neighbors. Rather than seeking to elucidate the history of Mandaeism in terms of other religions to which it can be related, this study approaches the religion through the history of its social contexts.
Table of Contents
1. Early Contacts between Arab Muslims and Aramaean Mandaeans and the Date of Zazay
2. Theodore bar Konay’s Account of Mandaean Origins (circa 792)
3. Three Sixth-Century References to Mandaeans by Name
4. On the Kentaeans and Their Relationship with the Mandaeans
5. The Account of al-Ḥasan ibn Bahlūl (Bar Bahlul), second half of tenth century
6. Identifying Abū ʿAlī
7. The Marshes of the Ṣābians
8. Other Reports on the Mandaeans after Abū ʿAlī
9. Back to the Question of Origins
10. Pre-Mandaean Nāṣoraeans
11. The Religious Environment of Sasanian Iraq
12. Mandaeism as a Changing Tradition
Appendix 1. Bar Konay on the Kentaeans, Dostaeans, and Nerigaeans, in English
Appendix 2. Ibn Waḥšīya on Aramaic Dialects
Kevin T. van Bladel (Ph.D. 2004, Yale University), is Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at The Ohio State University.
Lieu, Samuel & G. Mikkelsen (eds.). 2016. Between Rome and China: History, religions and material culture of the Silk Road (Silk Road Studies 18). Brepols Publishers.
This book contains a key study on sericulture as well as on the conduct of the trade in silk between China and the Roman Near East using archaeological and literary evidence.
The eight studies in this volume by established and emerging scholars range geographically and chronologically from the Greek Kingdom of Bactria of the 2nd century BCE to the Uighur Kingdoms of Karabalgasun in Mongolia and Qočo in Xinjiang of the 8th-9th centuries CE. It contains a key study on sericulture as well on the conduct of the trade in silk between China and the Roman Near East using archaeological as well as literary evidence. Other topics covered include Sogdian religious art, the role of Manichaeism as a Silk Road religion par excellence, the enigmatic names for the Roman Empire in Chinese sources and a multi-lingual gazetteer of place- and ethnic names in Pre-Islamic Central Asia which will be an essential reference tool for researchers. The volume also contains an author and title index to all the Silk Road Studies volumes published up to 2014. The broad ranging theme covered by this volume should appeal to a wider public fascinated by the history of the Silk Road and wishing to be informed of the latest state of research. Because of the centrality of the topics covered by this study, the volume could serve as a basic reading text for university courses on the history of the Silk Road.
Source: Between Rome and China: History, Religions and Material Culture of the Silk Road
Gonnella, Julia, Friederike Weis & Christoph Rauch (eds.). 2016. The Diez albums: Contexts and contents (Islamic Manuscripts and Books 11). Brill.
The five Diez albums in Berlin are an important source for the study of Ilkhanid, Jalayirid, and Timurid art. The 21 essays of this book contribute to deepening our understanding of the development of Persianate art and its perception in later times. Gonnella, Weis and Rauch unite in this volume 21 essays that analyse their relation to their “parent” albums at the Topkapı Palace or examine specific works by reflecting upon their role in the larger history of book art in Iran. Other essays cover aspects such as the European and Chinese influence on Persianate art, aspects related to material and social culture, and the Ottoman interest in Persianate albums. This book marks an important contribution to the understanding of the development of illustrative imagery in the Persianate world and its later perception.
Source: The Diez Albums | Brill