Tag Archives: History

Lucan’s Parthians in Nero’s Rome

Nabel, Jake. 2019. Lucan’s Parthians in Nero’s Rome. Classical Philology 114(4). 604–625.

For an epic that recounts the horrors of civil war, Lucan’s poem refers with surprising frequency to an enemy far removed from the realm of Roman power: the eastern kingdom of the Parthians, a vast empire beyond the Euphrates ruled by the Arsacid royal family. No other foreign polity figures so prominently. The Parthians are said to have unleashed the strife between Caesar and Pompey by killing Crassus, the only man capable of suppressing the rivalry between the two commanders (1.98–108). They escape vengeance …

Empires of the sea

Wijk, Roy van. 2019. Contested hegemonies: Thebes, Athens and Persia in the Aegean of the 360s. In Rolf Strootman, Floris van den Eijnde & Roy van Wijk (eds.), Empires of the sea: Maritime power networks in world history (Cultural Interactions in the Mediterranean 4), 81–112. Leiden: Brill.

Empires of the Sea brings together studies of maritime empires from the Bronze Age to the Eighteenth Century. The volume aims to establish maritime empires as a category for the (comparative) study of premodern empires, and from a partly ‘non-western’ perspective. The book includes contributions on Mycenaean sea power, Classical Athens, the ancient Thebans, Ptolemaic Egypt, The Genoese Empire, power networks of the Vikings, the medieval Danish Empire, the Baltic empire of Ancien Régime Sweden, the early modern Indian Ocean, the Melaka Empire, the (non-European aspects of the) Portuguese Empire and Dutch East India Company, and the Pirates of Caribbean.

Source: Empires of the sea | Brill

Silk Roads

Whitfield, Susan (ed.). 2019. Silk roads: Peoples, cultures, landscapes. California: University of California Press.

The Silk Roads continue to capture the imagination of the public, and, in 2014, a section of the land routes was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Yet there was no single “Silk Road.” Instead, a complex network of trade routes spanned Afro-Eurasia’s mountains, plains, deserts, and seas. From silk to spices, religion to dance, traffic in goods and ideas was crucial to the development of civilizations through rich cultural interactions and economic activity.
Centered around the dramatic landscapes of the Silk Roads, this beautiful volume honors the great diversity of medieval Afro-Eurasian cultures. Each section—from steppe to desert to ocean—includes maps, a historical and archaeological overview and thematic essays by leading historians worldwide, as well as sidebars showcasing objects that exemplify the art, archaeology and architecture of the Silk Roads.


Source: Silk Roads by Susan Whitfield – Hardcover – University of California Press

The author of numerous books and articles on the Silk Roads and China, including Life Along the Silk Road and Silk, Slaves, and Stupas, Susan Whitfield is a scholar, curator, writer, lecturer, and traveler of the Silk Roads.

The Scythians

Cunliffe, Barry. 2019. The Scythians: Nomad warriors of the steppe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brilliant horsemen and great fighters, the Scythians were nomadic horsemen who ranged wide across the grasslands of the Asian steppe from the Altai mountains in the east to the Great Hungarian Plain in the first millennium BC. Their steppe homeland bordered on a number of sedentary states to the south – the Chinese, the Persians and the Greeks – and there were, inevitably, numerous interactions between the nomads and their neighbours. The Scythians fought the Persians on a number of occasions, in one battle killing their king and on another occasion driving the invading army of Darius the Great from the steppe.
Relations with the Greeks around the shores of the Black Sea were rather different – both communities benefiting from trading with each other. This led to the development of a brilliant art style, often depicting scenes from Scythian mythology and everyday life. It is from the writings of Greeks like the historian Herodotus that we learn of Scythian life: their beliefs, their burial practices, their love of fighting, and their ambivalent attitudes to gender. It is a world that is also brilliantly illuminated by the rich material culture recovered from Scythian burials, from the graves of kings on the Pontic steppe, with their elaborate gold work and vividly coloured fabrics, to the frozen tombs of the Altai mountains, where all the organic material – wooden carvings, carpets, saddles and even tattooed human bodies – is amazingly well preserved.

Source: The Scythians – Barry Cunliffe – Oxford University Press

Barry Cunliffe is Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology, University of Oxford.

Studies on Pre-Islamic Iran and on Historical Linguistics

Lurje, Pavel (Ed.). 2019. Proceedings of the 8th European Conference of Iranian Studies. Held on 14–19 Sep. 2015 at the State Hermitage Museum and Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences, in St Petersburg. Vol. 1: Studies on Pre-Islamic Iran and on Historical Linguistics. St. Petersburg: The State Hermitage Publishers.

The volume incorporates articles presented by the participants of the Eighth European Conference of Iranian Studies (in St Petersburg 14–19 September 2015) which werefocused on Pre-Islamic Iran and on historical linguistics. The collected papers mirrorthe wide scope of Iranian studies of the present day: from business documents of Tumshuqin Xinjiangto those of the Syrian wars of the early Sasanians, from the etymology ofthe place-name Sudakto the pottery assemblages of Sistan of the Achaemenian period.The volume is addressedto Iranologists and specialists in neighbouring fields.

Table of Contents
  • Agustí ALEMANY: “Alans and Sogdians in the Crimea: on nomads, traders and Namengeschichten”
  • Pooriya ALIMORADI: “Zand-i Wahman Yašt: the New Persian version”
  • Pavel BASHARIN: “Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto‑Iranian language contacts with Proto-North Caucasian”
  • Julian BOGDANI and Luca COLLIVA: “Activities of the Italian archaeological mission in Iraqi Kurdistan: a preliminary report”
  • CHING Chao-jung: “The four cardinal directions in Tumshuqese”
  • Emily J. COTTRELL, Micah T. ROSS: “Persian astrology: Dorotheus and Zoroaster, according to the medieval Arabic sources (8th – 11th century)”
  • Iris COLDITZ: “Women without guardianship”
  • Matteo COMPARETI: “The ‘eight divinities’ in Khotanese paintings: local deities or Sogdian importation”
  • Maryam DARA: “The comparison between the subjects and written patterns of Urartian and Old Persian royal inscriptions”
  • Matteo DE CHIARA: “Describing Pashto verbal morphology”
  • Bruno GENITO: “Building no 3 in Dahāne-ye Gholāmān, Eastern Iran (Sistan): an Achaemenid religious puzzle”
  • Sebastian HEINE: “Anmerkungen zur historischen Phonologie und Lexik des Kurdischen (Kurmanji)”
  • Camilla INSOM: “Reshaping sacred landscape: notes on Sufi cult in Sangaw village shrines”
  • Thomas JÜGEL: “The development of the object marker in Middle Persian”
  • Nargis J. KHOJAEVA: “Again to the question of localization of Avestan Airiianəm-Vaējō”
  • Mateusz M. KŁAGISZ: “Middle Persian Yōšt ī Fr(i)yān as Proppʼs folk-tale”
  • Jiulio MARESCA: “The pottery from Dahane-ye Gholaman (Sistan): the state of art”
  • Jafar MEHR KIAN, Vito MESSINA: “The sanctuary and cemetery of Shami: research of the Iranian-Italian joint expedition in Khuzistan at Kal-e Chendar”
  • S. Fatemeh MUSAVI: “Pahlavi and Sanskrit interpretations of Gāϑā 31, an analysis”
  • OGIHARA Hirotoshi: “Tumshuqese imperfect and its related forms”
  • Filip PALUNČIĆ: “Ossetic historical phonology and North-Eastern Iranian anthroponomastics from the North Pontic region 1st – 5th c. CE”
  • Gabriele PUSCHNIGG: “Functional variation in pottery repertoires from the Parthian and Sasanian period”
  • Chiara RIMINUCCI: “Parokṣakámá hi devàh „denn die Götter lieben das Mysteriöse“. Zur Komposition des Bahrām-Yašt”
  • Ehsan SHAVAREBI: “Sasanians, Arsacids, Aramaeans: Ibn al-Kalbī’s account of Ardashīr’s Western campaign”
  • Fahimeh TASALLI BAKHSH: “Speech representation in Yashts; a narratological approach”

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.