Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity offers an integrated picture of Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppes during a formative period of world history. In the half millennium between 250 and 750 CE, settled empires underwent deep structural changes, while various nomadic peoples of the steppes (Huns, Avars, Turks, and others) experienced significant interactions and movements that changed their societies, cultures, and economies. This was a transformational era, a time when Roman, Persian, and Chinese monarchs were mutually aware of court practices, and when Christians and Buddhists criss-crossed the Eurasian lands together with merchants and armies. It was a time of greater circulation of ideas as well as material goods. This volume provides a conceptual frame for locating these developments in the same space and time. Without arguing for uniformity, it illuminates the interconnections and networks that tied countless local cultural expressions to far-reaching inter-regional ones.
The work of Ammianus Marcellinus preserved valuable information on ancient Iran. Ammianus describes the arrival of šāhānšāh Šāpūr II (r. 309-379) under the walls of Amida, besieged by the Iranians. He informing that the king of Iran wore specific crown/helmet decorated with the ram’s horn. It seems that the helmet of the Sasanian monarch is associated with the person of Alexander of Macedon. In Iranian tradition the heroic picture of Alexander is based on the so-called Alexander Romance, also the Syriac legend of Alexander of Macedon, was written in the 6th century A.D. or in the first half of the 7th century A.D. The article analyzes the picture of Alexander in Pahlavi literature chronologically closer to the reign of Šāpūr II. The subject of research are also representations of Iranian kings with the ram’s horn. It must be accepted that teh specific decoartion of the helmet of Šāpūr II, described by Ammianus Marcelinus canot be anyhow associated with the person of Alexander but results from Iranian ideology of royal power.
Daryaee, Touraj & Soodabeh Malekzadeh. 2018. Falcons and falconry in pre-modern Persia, in Karl-Heinz Gersmann & Oliver Grimm (eds.), Raptor and human: falconry and bird symbolism throughout the millennia on a global scale, 243-258, Wachholtz Verlag.
Falcons and falconry have been part of the religious and ideological tradition of the Persianate world from remote antiquity to the pre-modern period. The falcon has been important as a symbol of royal ideology and political legitimation. Already from the earliest Zoroastrian hymns, the Avesta, to manuals on falconry in the nineteenth century, the importance of this bird and the sport is detailed. The earliest evidence of falconry in Persia dates back to the Sasanian era (3rd c. CE). In this article, the association of this sport with the nobility in both pre-Islamic and Islamic literature, art, and history is made clear.
Šāpur of Ray, known also as Mermeroes in Procopius’ and Agathias’ narratives, was the spāhbed in the battles of Dara (June 530) and Satala (summer 530). In 542 he was dispatched by Xusrō I Anōšīrvān (r. 531–579) against the Byzantine fortress of Dara. In 548 Šāpur of Ray was sent at the head of a large army to relieve the fortress of Petra in Lazica, which was under siege by a combined Byzantine-Lazic force. He died of his illness at Mtskheta in the summer of 555. According to Ṭabarī at the time of Sukhrā’s fall, Šāpur of Ray was supreme Commander of the land (iṣbahbadh al-bilād). If we allow identification of Sukhrā and Siāwoš, the last commander of Iranian army with the title of Artēštārān sālār, then we must state that, after removing Sukhrā, Šāpur of Ray also held a high military rank until the military reforms of Xusrō I Anōšīrvān.
This article examines the relationships between rulers and imperial elites in late antique Sasanian Iran, focusing on the significance and implications of complex groups of followers. Not unlike their Parthian predecessors, the Sasanian kings of the pre-Islamic empire relied on a network of personal relationships with the imperial elite. The magnates (vuzurgān), in turn, had many followers (bandagān) of their own; they were, apparently, often rather independent when residing in their own lands. Still, this does not imply that the late antique Persian monarchy was weak, because the Sasanian kings managed to turn the court into a central location of aristocratic competition where the imperial elite struggled for offices, honors and influence. This allowed the monarch to play off rival individuals and groups against each other – one is tempted here to speak of a “Königsmechanismus” (Norbert Elias), even though the weaknesses of this model are certainly well known. In general, this strategy became problematic only if infighting escalated into civil war. However, the later Sasanians tried to curtail the influence of the vuzurgān by imposing a tax reform, establishing a standing royal army, and creating a new lower nobility (dehgānān) in order to strengthen the power of the central government. The paper demonstrates that, in spite of short-term success, these measures seem to have led to a long-term erosion of loyalty within the kingdom, thus contributing to the triumph of the Arab conquerors in the seventh century CE.
Gyselen, Rika. 2017. Sasanian seals: Owners and reusers. In Ben van den Bercken & Vivian Baan (eds.), Engraved gems: From antiquity to the present (Papers on Archaeology of the Leiden Museum of Antiquities 14), 85–92. Leiden: Sidestone Press.
The majority of Sasanian seals are anonymous and anepigraphic. Some are engraved with an inscription, sometimes a personal name or the name of an institution. This information allows seal owners to be identified. It can be provided by:
A. Sigillographic data, that is, data intrinsic to the seal itself. This can be epigraphic and/or iconographic.
B. Textual data in a document with a sealed clay bulla still attached.
Seals were sometimes reused by subsequent owners; on some seals this reuse can be traced.
This article is currently published in the online publication section of Iranian Studies, thus the journal's reference as volume 0, issue 0. I am unsure whether in time it will become part of the printed version or not.
Zanous, Hamidreza Pasha & Esmaeil Sangari. 2018. The last Sasanians in Chinese literary sources: Recently identified statue head of a Sasanian prince at the Qianling mausoleum. Iranian Studies 0(0). 1–17.
Qianling Mausoleum (乾陵) which is located in the northwest of Xi’an, is the tomb of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty (唐高宗, r. 649–83 AD) and his Empress Wu Zetian (武則天, r. 690–705 AD). In this mausoleum, there are two statues of Pērōz, son of Yazdegird III (632–51 AD), and another Persian nobleman who have been recognized by western scholars. However, scholars’ attention has been limited to a general and mistaken description of the statues. This paper reassesses both statues in order to give some new insight into the head of one of the statues found at the Qianling Mausoleum.