Tag Archives: Parthian

Greek and Roman Authors’ Views of the Arsacid Empire

Wiesehöfer, Josef & Sabine Müller (eds.). 2017. Parthika. Greek and Roman authors’ views of the Arsacid Empire (Classica et Orientalia 15). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Established in the third century BC, the multi-cultural and multi-lingual Arsacid Empire became Rome’s major opponent in the East from the first century BC to its end in the third century AD. According to a Roman idea, the orbis was evenly divided between the Parthians and the Romans. However, in the Arsacid Empire oral tradition prevailed and, for a long time, there was no Arsacid historiography concerning perception, reception and interpretation. Therefore, Greco-Roman views and images of the Parthians, Arsacids and their Empire predominated.
Focusing on literary depictions in ancient Greek and Roman literature and examining stereotypes, this volume brings together twelve papers on Greco-Roman perceptions and images of the Arsacid Empire. Part I consists of eight papers primarily concerned with re-assessments of Apollodorus of Artemita and Isidorus of Charax regarding their value as source of information on the Arsacid Empire. Part II contains four papers dealing with the images of the Arsacid Empire in the works of Josephus, Trogus-Justin, Tacitus and Arrian, viewed against their respective socio-political and cultural background.

Personal names in Parthian epigraphical sources

pnb-schmitt-2016Schmitt, Rüdiger. 2016. Iranisches Personennamenbuch Band 2/Faszikel 5: Personennamen in parthischen epigraphischen Quellen. (Österreichische Akademie Der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse; Iranische Onomastik 15). Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW).
This volume of the Iranisches Personennamenbuch (Lexicon of Iranian personal names) presents a full collection of the personal names attested between 150 BCE and 300 CE in Parthian epigraphical sources, inclusive of patronymics and family names as well as the topographical names derived from personal names. Also non-Parthian and even non-Iranian (Semitic, Latin, etc.) personal names are taken into account, as they are part of the onomastic material attested in an Iranian language. The presentation of the names in principle is the same as in the earlier volumes of the Iranisches Personennamenbuch: First comes a full listing of all references (with the kind of the text and its provenance given in abbreviated form), then a sketchy prosopographical characterisation of the person(s) bearing the name, and finally the section on the morphological and etymological interpretation of the name, in which a cautious judgement is attempted. Here the names attested in the Old Iranian and the other Middle Iranian languages (together with their collateral tradition), now known in much greater numbers than at the time of Ferdinand Justi’s Iranisches Namenbuch (1895), are quoted in a fitting manner. Full indexes make all the names accessible that are quoted by way of comparison.
About the Autor:
Rüdiger Schmitt ist emer. Professor für Vergleichende Indogermanische Sprachwissenschaft und Indoiranistik der Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken.

Central Asia and Iran: Greeks, Parthians, Kushans and Sasanians

Dabrowa, Edward (ed.). 2016. Central Asia and Iran: Greeks, Parthians, Kushans and Sasanians (Electrum 22). Krakow: Jagiellonian University Press.

This volume contains 12 studies on political, social, economic, and religious aspects of the history of Central Asia and Iran in the period from the fourth century B.C.E. to the fifth century C.E. by leading specialists in the field. They interpret and reconstructing the region’s past based on various kinds of evidence, including literary, archaeological, linguistic, and numismatic. Some papers present the findings of recent archaeological excavations in Old Nisa and Uzbekistan for the first time.

Table of Contents

The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires: Adaptation and Expansion

Pendleton, Elizabeth,  Touraj Daryaee, Michael Alram & Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis (eds.). 2016. The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires: Adaptation and Expansion. Proceeding of a Conference Held in Vienna, 14-16 June 2012.  Oxbow Books.

Although much of the primary information about the Parthian period comes from coins, there has been much new research undertaken over the past few decades into wider aspects of both the Parthian and Sasanian Empires including the  Arsacid Parthians, and their material culture. Despite a change of ruling dynasty, the two empires were closely connected and cannot be regarded as totally separate entities. The continuation of Parthian influence particularly into the early Sasanian period cannot be disputed. An historic lack of detailed information arose partly through the relative lack of excavated archaeological sites dating to the Parthian period in Iran and western scholars’ lack of knowledge of recent excavations and their results that are usually published in Persian, coupled with the inevitable difficulties for academic research engendered by the recent political situation in the region. Although an attempt has been made by several scholars in the west to place this important Iranian dynasty in its proper cultural context, the traditional GrecoRoman influenced approach is still prevalent.  The present volume presents 15 papers covering various aspects of Parthian and early Sasanian history, material culture, linguistics and religion which demonstrate a rich surviving heritage and provide many new insights into ideology, royal genealogy, social organisation, military tactics, linguistic developments and trading contacts.

Table of Contents

Continue reading The Parthian and Early Sasanian Empires: Adaptation and Expansion

The Parthian nobility in Xusrō I Anōšīrvān court

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. 2015. The Parthian nobility in Xusrō I Anōšīrvān court. In Piotr Briks (ed.), Elites in the Ancient World (Szczecińskie Studia nad Starożytnością II), 189–198. Wydawnictwo Naukowe.

Sources rewritten by order of Persian rulers (Pārsīg) in 6th century diminish the role of the Parthians (Pahlav) in the official history of Iran. In Xwadāy Nāmag a method of the Parthian reign recalculation to half of its actual duration was applied. Propaganda forgery of Xusrō I (531–579) so called Nāma-ye Tansar, shows Iran before power takeover by the Sasanian dynasty as a decentralized and corrupted state but even as “heretical” one. Contrast to the weak power of the Arsacid royal house had to be kingship of Šāhānšāh Ardašīr (224–242) who centralized administration relying on the Mazdean.
This paper is aimed at showing dominant role of the Parthian nobility in Persian government system. This is also attempt to answer the question whether administrative reforms initiated by Kawād I (488–496,498–531) and continued by his son Xusrō I Anōšīrvān were directed against status of the Parthian noblemen in Iran.

Arts of the Hellenized East

Carter, Martha, Prudence Harper & Pieter Meyers (eds.). 2015. Arts of the Hellenized East: Precious metalwork and gems of the pre-Islamic era. Thames & Hudson.

The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, houses one of the world’s most spectacular collections of ancient silver vessels and other objects made of precious metals. Dating from the centuries following Alexander the Great’s conquest of Iran and Bactria in the middle of the 4th century BCE up to the advent of the Islamic era, the beautiful bowls, drinking vessels, platters and other objects in this catalogue suggest that some of the best Hellenistic silverwork was not made in the Greek heartlands, but in this eastern outpost of the Seleucid empire. Martha L. Carter connects these far-flung regions from northern Greece to the Hindu Kush, tracing the common cultural threads that link their diverse geography and people. The last part of the catalogue, by Prudence O. Harper, deals with an important group of Sasanian silver vessels and gems, and some other rarities produced in the succeeding centuries for Hunnish and Turkic patrons. The catalogue is accompanied by an essay on the technology of ancient silver production by Pieter Meyers, who has performed a number of scientific tests on the objects, including a new metallurgical analysis that may help to identify their geographical origins.

On Parthian and Sasanian Empires

OxbowSarkhosh Curtis, Vesta, Elizabeth Pendleton, Michael Alram & Touraj Daryaee (eds.). 2016. The Parthian and early Sasanian Empires: Adaptation and expansion (The British Institute of Persian Studies Archaeological Monographs Series V). Oxbow Books: Oxford.

Although much of the primary information about the Parthian period comes from coins, there has been much new research undertaken over the past few decades into wider aspects of both the Parthian and Sasanian Empires including the Arsacid Parthians, and their material culture. Despite a change of ruling dynasty, the two empires were closely connected and cannot be regarded as totally separate entities. The continuation of Parthian influence particularly into the early Sasanian period cannot be disputed. An historic lack of detailed information arose partly through the relative lack of excavated archaeological sites dating to the Parthian period in Iran and western scholars’ lack of knowledge of recent excavations and their results that are usually published in Persian, coupled with the inevitable difficulties for academic research engendered by the recent political situation in the region. Although an attempt has been made by several scholars in the west to place this important Iranian dynasty in its proper cultural context, the traditional GrecoRoman influenced approach is still prevalent. The present volume presents 15 papers covering various aspects of Parthian and early Sasanian history, material culture, linguistics and religion which demonstrate a rich surviving heritage and provide many new insights into ideology, royal genealogy, social organisation, military tactics, linguistic developments and trading contacts.

Arsacid Iran and cultural transfer

Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2015. Arsacid Iran and the nomads of Central Asia – Ways of cultural transfer. In Bemmann, Jan & Michael Schmauder (eds.), Complexity of interaction along the Eurasian steppe zone in the first millennium CE (Bonn Contributions to Asian Archaeology 7). Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.

Parthian Cities and Strongholds in Turkmenistan

Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2015. Parthian cities and strongholds in TurkmenistanInternational Journal of Eurasian Studies 2. 117–125.

The Arsacid empire (247 BC – AD 226) emerged as the result of a nomadic invasion in northeastern Iran and in southern Turkmenistan. The Arsacids attached great importance to the erection of fortifications and strongholds. Justin’s account on Arsaces I (247-211/210 BC) shows the unexpected triumph of a leader from the steppes in northeastern Iran and focuses on two aspects: that Arsaces raised a large army (41.4.8) and that he built fortresses and strengthened the cities (41.5.1). No less emphatic about it is Ammianus Marcellinus 23.6.4 who relates that Arsaces “filled Persia with cities, with fortified camps, and with strongholds”. Fortified centers made the dynasty’s basis in the course of internal consolidation of the kingdom, at the same time having become the elements of a defense system against the aggression of the neighboring powers, including the Seleucid monarchy, Graeco-Bactria, and some nomadic tribes of Central Asia. This paper shall point to some questions concerning cities and strongholds in Parthia proper, including the location of Dara, Nisaia, Asaak, Alexandropolis, and the development of Old Nisa as well as New Nisa.

The Sistani Cycle of Epics and Iran’s National History: On the Margins of Historiography

Gazerani, Saghi. 2015. The Sistani Cycle of Epics and Iran’s National History: On the Margins of Historiography. (Studies in Persian Cultural History 7). Brill.