Tag Archives: Iranian Art and Archaeology

Some Perspective on Agriculture and Irrigation Systems in the Achaemenid Heartland

Shobairi, Seyed Abazar. 2018. Beyond the Palace: Some Perspective on Agriculture and Irrigation Systems in the Achaemenid Heartland. In Barbara Horejs et al (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Vol. 2 (Prehistoric and Historical Landscapes & Settlement Patterns), 149-162. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

The Achaemenid heartland (Parsa and Pasargadae Plains) is one of the most vital areas in southwestern Iran. These wide regions are watery and have rich lands suitable for farming. Most likely, the formation of the Achaemenid capitals, Pasargadae and Persepolis, by the Sivand and Kur rivers in Fars was neither arbitrary nor did it occur suddenly. Considerable remains of large earthen channel networks branch out from these rivers and are located close to the main Achaemenid sites. In addition, existing qanat systems and the remains of several dams in the Persepolis and Pasargadae plains represent a development and progress in irrigation systems and agriculture in the Achaemenid period. It seems probable that one of the economic aims of the Achaemenids was the development of agriculture as well as increased production. Some of the Persepolis Fortification Tablets attest to the importance of rivers as well as crop farming in Achaemenid era. The broader scope of my research is to arrive at a much more substantial understanding of water supply and management practices in the Persian Achaemenid period.

Iranica Antiqua, Volume 52

The table of contents of the latest issue (52) of the journal Iranica Antiqua:

Shamans of Ancient Iranian Nomads

Yatsenko, Sergey. 2017. Shamans of Ancient Iranian Nomads: Artifacts and Iconography. In Gheorghiu Dragoş, Emilia Pásztor, Herman Bender, George Nash (eds.), Archaeological Approaches to Shamanism: Mind-Body, Nature, and Culture. 243-262. Cambridge Scholars publishing.

The interpretation of depictions in petroglyphs belonging to the Bronze Age in South Siberia as shamanic ones is debatable. Obviously, cultic attributes belonging to men were not removed from barrows 2 and 5 in Pazyryk. Their series can be compared with complexes (known to ethnologists) belonging to shamans of Iranian peoples. Such elements of practicing sequential shamanic rituals as divination, use of musical instruments, entering into a trance state, summoning patron spirits and their “feeding”, exorcism of evil spirits can be reconstructed.

The Elamite Royal Orchestra from Madaktu (653 BC)

Alvarez-Mon, Javier. 2017. The Elamite Royal Orchestra from Madaktu (653 BC)Elamica 7: 1-34.

Contents: §1. Prelude; §2. The Royal Elamite Orchestra from Madaktu; §2.1. Instruments: horizontal harps, angular harps, double pipes, a drum, hand clapping and singing; §2.2. People: Musicians and Singers; §3. Allegro ma non troppo: Madaktu 653 BC, the Royal Orchestra in Historical Context. §4. From Madaktu to Assyria: Cacophonies at the Heartland of the Empire; §4.1. The Assyrian Royal Orchestras from Nineveh (Room S1); §4.2. Foreign Orchestras in Assyria; §5. Requiem 612 BC: Royal Orchestras and the Fall of Nineveh.

Persepolis West (Fars, Iran)

Askari Chaverdi, Alireza & Pierfrancesco Callieri. 2017. Persepolis West (Fars, Iran): Report on the field work carried out by the Iranian-Italian Joint Archaeological Mission in 2008–2009 (British Archaeological Reports International Series 2870). BAR Publishing.

This book represents the final report on the field work carried out in 2008 and 2009 by the Iranian-Italian Joint Archaeological Mission at the archaeological site of Persepolis West, where parts of the town adjacent to the well-known Achaemenid monumental terrace of Persepolis have been located. The eleven trial trenches excavated in areas indicated by the results of Iranian and Iranian-French geophysical surveys represent the first stratigraphic excavations ever carried out on this site, the dating of which is supported by a rich series of radiocarbon datings. Illustration of the excavations is preceded by an accurate geophysical study of the topographical context and accompanied by a detailed and richly illustrated analysis of pottery and other finds: the safe stratigraphic context makes these finds a particularly important source of evidence for our knowledge of the ceramics of Fars during the historic pre-Islamic age. The excavations largely confirm the location of the built-up area of Parsa indicated by geophysical surveys.

Bridging Times and Spaces

Avetisyan, Pavel & Yervand Grekyan (eds.). 2017. Bridging times and spaces. Papers in ancient Near Eastern, Mediterranean and Armenian Studies. Honouring Gregory E. Areshian on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Bridging Times and Spaces is composed of papers written by colleagues of Professor Gregory E. Areshian on the occasion his 65th birthday reflecting the breadth and diversity of his scholarly contributions. The range of presented papers covers topics in Near Eastern, Mediterranean and Armenian archaeology, theory of interpretation in archaeology and art history, interdisciplinary history, historical linguistics, art history, and comparative mythology. The volume opens with an extensive interview given by Gregory Areshian, in which Gregory outlines the pathways of his academic career, archaeological discoveries, different intellectual quests, and the organic connections between research questions that he explored across different social sciences and the humanities, stressing the importance of periodizations in interdisciplinary history as well as his views on holism and interdisciplinary studies.

The table of contents is available here.  Five papers relate directly to Iranian Studies:

  • Touraj Daryaee: A Note on the ‘Great King of Armenia’
  • Michael Herles: Achaemenids and the Southern Caucasus
  • Ernst Stephan Kroll: Fortified Kura Arax Settlements in North-Western Iran
  • Daniel Potts: The Sale and Lease of Vineyards in Media Atropatene
  • David Stronach: Notes on the Representation of the Face of Cyrus the Great

A gold four-horse model chariot from the Oxus Treasure in the British Museum

Mongiatti, Anudu, Neegel Meeks & John Simpson. 2017. A gold four-horse model chariot from the Oxus Treasure in the British Museum, Bulletin of the National Museum of Tajikistan 2, 105-123.

The Oxus Treasure is one of the greatest collections of Achaemenid-period precious metal to survive. It was bequeathed to the British Museum by A. W. Franks in 1897 and been on almost continuous display at the Briti sh Museum since 1900/1901. It was catalogued by Dalton and the first edition published in 1905, and the collection contjnues to attract scholarly attention as well as public interest. In recent years a number of scientific analyses have been carried out on areas of this collection in order to better understand the composition and details of working on particular classes or individual objects. This paper outlines the results of the first scientific study of the outstanding gold model of a four-horse chariot, complete with its driver and passenger. Microscopic examination, X-radiography and scanning electron microscopy combined with energy dispersive X-ray analysis have revealed undocumented evidence for the skill of the Persian goldsmith in creating an intricate artefact produced using a variety of techniques, such as repoussé and chasing on gold sheets, granulation, wire twisting and hammering.

The second issue of Iran 55

The second issue of  Iran 55 (2017) has been published:

Some stamp seals of Achaemenid date

Collon, Dominique & John Curtis. 2017. “Some stamp seals of Achaemenid date“, In Y. Heffron, A. Stone and M. Worthington (eds), At the Dawn of History: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of J.N. Postgate, 765-780. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.

This paper discusses a collection of 17 distinctive bronze stamp seals. They are all plaques or tablets of bronze, more or less flat on both surfaces, and square or rectangular in shape. More than half of them have a distinctive ladder-pattern border around the decorated face of the seal. The designs are usually highly stylized but sometimes more naturalistic. These seals may be compared with a stone seal from Nimrud and a silver ring from Kamid el-Loz. They apparently date from the Achaemenid period, 5th-4th century BC, and probably derive mostly from the western part of the Persian empire.

Picturing Pasargadae: Visual Representation and the Ambiguities of Heritage in Iran

Mozaffari, Ali. 2017. “Picturing Pasargadae: Visual Representation and the Ambiguities of Heritage in Iran“, Iranian Studies 50(4), 601-634.

This paper probes the relationship between visual representations and visitation practices at Pasargadae, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Iran. Presenting a systematic analysis of publicly available online images of Pasargadae, the paper examines the complex relationship between the place and its visual representations. Through analysis, the paper elaborates on a sense of intimacy that, while grounding Pasargadae, is also a potential common ground in pre-Islamic heritage in which the Iranian state and society could at once meet and contest versions of identity. Examining this relationship facilitates reflections into both heritage and the peculiarities of its visual representation in the Iranian context.