Tag Archives: Late Antiquity

Sasanian Persia

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.

Ancient States and Infrastructural Power

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

The History of the ‘Slave of Christ’

Butts, Aaron Michael &  Gross, Simcha. 2017. The History of the ‘Slave of Christ’: From Jewish Child to Christian Martyr. ( Persian Martyr Acts in Syriac: Text and Translation 6). New Jersey: Gorgias Press LLC .

The first critical editions and English translations of the two Syriac recensions of a fascinating text which narrates the story of a young Jewish child, Asher. After converting to Christianity and taking the name ʿAḇdā da-Mšiḥā (‘slave of Christ’), he is martyred by his father. In a detailed introduction, Butts and Gross challenge the use of this text by previous scholars as evidence for historical interactions between Jews and Christians, reevaluating its purpose and situating the story in its Late Antique Babylonian context.

 

ReOrienting the Sasanians

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

The making of Turan

Payne, Richard. 2016. The making of Turan: The fall and transformation of the Iranian east in late antiquity. Journal of Late Antiquity 9(1). 4–41.

Contemporaneously with the fall and transformation of the Roman West, the Iranian Empire yielded its East to Hun—and later Turk—conquerors. This article traces the development of post-Iranian regimes through the dynamic interplay of nomadic and sedentary political institutions in the fourth through early seventh centuries. The conquerors adopted Iranian institutions, integrated the Iranian aristocracy, and presented themselves as the legitimate heirs of the kings of kings in a manner reminiscent of post-Roman rulers. At the same time, however, the Huns and the Turks retained the superior military resources of nomadic imperialism, included the Ira-nian East in trans-Eurasian networks, and distinguished themselves as rul-ing ethno-classes tied to the steppe. The resulting hybrid political culture came to be known as Turan.

The article is also available from the authors’s academia.edu page here.

Iberia between Rome and Iran

Iberia between Rome and Iran from Pompey to Heraclius

Georgian Bolnisi inscriptions, 494 AD.
Georgian Bolnisi inscriptions, 494 AD.

07.- 09. July 2016, University of Jena

An international colloquium on the history of Georgia in Late Antiquity (from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD) organized by the Chair of Ancient History at the University of Jena.

Central to the research are the close contacts of the Iberians to the Roman Empire on one side, and to the realms of the Parthians and Sasanians on the other side. Iberia formed an interface between the great powers and was strongly influenced by both sides. Some of these influences, such as the establishment of Christianity, territorial ambitions of the great neighbors or linguistic developments,  will be discussed at the conference, attended by German and internatioal scholars of the Ancient Studies and the history of Caucasian Iberia.

Programm

  • Tassilo Schmitt: “Argo und Argumente. Historische Perspektiven auf den und aus dem Kaukasus”

Sektion I – Iberien im Spannungsfeld der Großmächte

  • Frank Schleicher: “Die Chronologie der kartvelischen Könige und das Ende des iberischen Königtums”
  • Balbina Bäbler: “Pompeius im Kaukasus. Geographie und Topographie eines Feldzugs”
  • Henning Börm: “Die Grenzen des Großkönigs? Grundzüge der arsakidisch-sasanidischen Politik gegenüber Rom”
  • Giusto Traina: “Dynastic connections in Armenia and Iberia (I-III CE)”

Sektion II – Zur Christianisierung Iberiens

  • Konstantin Klein: “Ein Königssohn, zwei Rabbinen und (fast) vierzig Nonnen – die Konversion Iberiens in der lateinischen, griechischen und armenischen Überlieferung”
  • Josef Rist: “Nino versus Gregor. Die Christianisierung Iberiens und seine Stellung zur Reichskirche im Vergleich mit Armenien”
  • Stephen H. Rapp Jr.: “The Conversion of Eastern Georgia: Cross-Cultural and Pan-Regional Perspectives”

Sektion III – Zur Religiosität der Iberer (Moderator: Udo Hartmann, Jena)

  • Eka Tchkoidze: “Iberia between Christianity and Zoroastrianism (evidence from Georgian literary tradition)”
  • Cornelia B. Horn: “Die Georgier und das Heilige Land: Hagiographische, apokryphe und historische Elemente einer Beziehung”
  • Jan-Markus Kötter: “Bekenntnis als Mittel der Diplomatie – Die Stellung der iberischen Kirche zum Reich”

Sektion IV – Zu den Quellen

  • Alexander Schilling: “Die ‚Diegesis ophelimos‘ (BHG 1060) in georgischer Überlieferung: historische und historiographische Kontexte”
  • Bernadette Martin-Hisard: “L’Ibérie des VIe-VIIe siècles d’après des traditions religieuses géorgiennes des IXe-XIIe siècles”
  • Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan: “Das Bild der Iberer in der armenischen Literatur (5.-7. Jh.)”
  • Johannes Niehoff-Panagiotidis: “Griechisch, Aramäisch oder was? Die historischen Voraussetzungen für die Genese der georgischen Literatursprache”

Sektion V – Archäologisches

  • Nodar Bakhtadze: “The Oldest Basilicas Revealed in Nekresi Former City and Assumptions on Architectural Design of the First Georgian Christian Churches”
  • Annegret Plontke-Lüning: “Von Dmanisi nach Bolnisi. Ein alter Pilgerweg in Niederkartli”

Bar Hebraeus The Ecclesiastical Chronicle

Wilmshurst, David. 2016. Bar Hebraeus The Ecclesiastical Chronicle (Gorgias Eastern Christian Studies 40). New Jersey. Gorgias Press.

The Ecclesiastical Chronicle of the Syriac Orthodox polymath Bar Hebraeus (†1286), an important Syriac text written in the last quarter of the 13th century, has long been recognised as a key source for the history of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Church of the East. Bar Hebraeus describes the eventful history of the “Jacobite” and “Nestorian” Churches, as they were then called, from their earliest beginnings down to his own time, against the background of christological controversies, Roman?Persian wars, the Arab Conquest, the Crusades and the 13th-century Mongol invasions. Two continuators bring the story down to the end of the 15th century, shedding valuable light on a relatively obscure period in the history of both Churches. The Ecclesiastical Chronicle was translated into Latin between 1872 and 1877, but has never before been fully translated into English. Gorgias Press is proud to publish the first complete English translation of this influential text, by respected Syriac scholar David Wilmshurst.

This elegant translation of the Ecclesiastical Chronicle captures the flavour of Bar Hebraeus’s style, and is complemented by a facing Syriac text. Wilmshurst also provides a detailed introduction, setting the chronicle in its historical and literary context. His translation is accompanied by five maps, showing the dioceses of the two Churches and the towns, villages and monasteries of Tur ‘Abdin and the Mosul Plain. A helpful bibliography and index are also provided.

David Wilmshurst was educated at Worcester College, Oxford, where he took a first-class BA degree in Classics (1979) and a D Phil degree in Oriental Studies (1998). He has spent much of his life in Hong Kong, and is one of the few modern scholars of the Church of the East who can read Syriac, Arabic and Chinese. He is the author of The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318–1913 (Louvain, 2000), a study of the Christian topography of Iraq and Iran, and The Martyred Church (London, 2011), a general history of the Church of the East. Both books have been warmly praised by leading scholars.

 

Table of Contents

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Introduction (page 7)
    • Preliminary Remarks (page 7)
    • The Career of Bar Hebraeus (page 9)
    • The Literary Achievement of Bar Hebraeus (page 12)
    • The Chronicle of Bar Hebraeus (page 16)
    • The Ecclesiastical Chronicle as Literature (page 19)
    • The Ecclesiastical Chronicle as History (page 27)
  • Text and Translation (page 41)
    • Section One (page 42)
    • Section Two (page 350)
  • Appendix One: The Patriarchs and Maphrians of the Jacobite Church (page 547)
  • Appendix Two: The Patriarchs of the Church of the East (page 551)
  • Select Bibliography (page 555)
  • Index (page 559)
  • Maps (page 589)

Christian-Zoroastrian Dialogue in the Sasanian Period

g13070-9Rezania, Kianoosh. 2015. Einige Anmerkungen zur sasanidisch-zoroastrischen Religionspraxis im Spiegel der interreligiösen Dialoge der Christen und Zoroastrier. In Claudia Rammelt, Cornelia Schlarb & Egbert Schlarb (eds.), Begegnungen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart: Beiträge dialogischer Existenz ; eine freundschaftliche Festgabe zum 60. Geburtstag von Martin Tamcke, 172–80. Berlin; Münster: LIT Verlag.

The primary sources for Zoroastrianism in the Sasanian Period (3rd-7th. CE) are limited to a few inscriptions, coins and a few Zoroastrian Middle Persian works,  which can be dated with some certainty to this time. The majority of the Zoroastrian Middle Persian texts were written or compiled in the early Islamic period and need to be placed in the religious context of the 9th and 10th centuries. In addition to the primary Zoroastrian sources, however, there are couple of Christian works, which comprise valuable information relatied to the Middle Iranian languages, the Sasanian administration and not least the Zoroastrian theology and religious practice. Most of the literatures, datable to the Sasanian Zoroastrianism are intelectual productions of an inter-religious context. They contain reports of dialogues between Christians and Zoroastrians or represent imaginary dialogues between those religious groups. This paper aims to explore some little known Zoroastrian practices as depicted in such interfaith dialogues.

About the Author:
Kianoosh Rezania is a scholar of Zoroastrianism, Ancient Iranian Studies and the history of religions. He is a visiting research fellow of the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Iranian Studies: A volume in honour of Michael Morony

Iranian Studies, Volume 49, Issue 2, 2016. Special issue: “Sasanian Iran and beyond: A special volume in honour of Michael G. Morony and his contributions to late antique history“. Guest Editors: Touraj Daryaee and Khodadad Rezakhani.

Table of contents

Reconstructing the lost history of Ancient Afghanistan

The Bactrian archives: Reconstructing the lost history of Ancient Afghanistan

A lecture by Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams (SOAS)

Date: May 12
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Venue: Royal Asiatic Society
14 Stephenson Way
London, NW1 2HD

For more information, see the event’s page on the RAS’s website.