Erskine, Andrew, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones & Shane Wallace (eds.). 2017. The Hellenistic court: Monarchic power and elite society from Alexander to Cleopatra. Classical Press of Wales.
Hellenistic courts were centres of monarchic power, social prestige and high culture in the kingdoms that emerged after the death of Alexander. They were places of refinement, learning and luxury, and also of corruption, rivalry and murder. Surrounded by courtiers of varying loyalty, Hellenistic royal families played roles in a theatre of spectacle and ceremony. Architecture, art, ritual and scholarship were deployed to defend the existence of their dynasties. The present volume, from a team of international experts, examines royal methods and ideologies. It treats the courts of the Ptolemies, Seleucids, Attalids, Antigonids and of lesser dynasties. It also explores the influence, on Greek-speaking courts, of non- Greek culture, of Achaemenid and other Near Eastern royal institutions. It studies the careers of courtesans, concubines and ‘friends’ of royalty, and the intellectual, ceremonial, and artistic world of the Greek monarchies. The work demonstrates the complexity and motivations of Hellenistic royal civilisation, of courts which governed the transmission of Greek culture to the wider Mediterranean world – and to later ages.
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Collins, John & J.G. Manning. 2016. Revolt and Resistance in the Ancient Classical World and the Near East: In the Crucible of Empire. Leiden: Brill.
This collection of essays contains a state of the field discussion about the nature of revolt and resistance in the ancient world. While it does not cover the entire ancient world, it does focus in on the key revolts of the pre-Roman imperial world. Regardless of the exact sequence, it was an undeniable fact that the area we now call the Middle East witnessed a sequence of extensive empires in the second half of the last millennium BCE. At first, these spread from East to West (Assyria, Babylon, Persia). Then after the campaigns of Alexander, the direction of conquest was reversed. Despite the sense of inevitability, or of divinely ordained destiny, that one might get from the passages that speak of a sequence of world-empires, imperial rule was always contested. The essays in this volume consider some of the ways in which imperial rule was resisted and challenged, in the Assyrian, Persian, and Hellenistic (Seleucid and Ptolemaic) empires. Not every uprising considered in this volume would qualify as a revolution by this definition. Revolution indeed was on the far end of a spectrum of social responses to empire building, from resistance to unrest, to grain riots and peasant rebellions. The editors offer the volume as a means of furthering discussions on the nature and the drivers of resistance and revolution, the motivations for them as well as a summary of the events that have left their mark on our historical sources long after the dust had settled.
Table of contents
List of Abbreviations
Introduction. John J. Collins and J. G. Manning
When is a Revolt not a Revolt? A Case for Contingency. Erich S. Gruen
Assyria and Babylonia
Revolts in the Assyrian Empire. Succession Wars, Rebellions against a False King, and Independence Movements. Karen Radner
Assyria’s Demise as Recompense: A Note on Narratives of Resistance in Babylonia and Judah Peter R. Bedford
Revolts in the Neo-Assyrian Empire: A Preliminary Discourse Analysis. Eckart Frahm
The Persian Empire
Xerxes and the Oathbreakers: Empire and Rebellion on the Northwestern Front. Matt Waters
Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes II, 401 BC. An Achaemenid Civil War Reconsidered. John Lee
Resistance, Revolt and Revolution in Achaemenid Persia. A Response. E. R. M. Dusinberre
The Ptolemaic Kingdom
Revolting Subjects. Empires and Insurrection, Ancient and Modern. Brian McGing
Revolts under the Ptolemies. A Paleoclimatological Perspective. Francis Ludlow and J. G. Manning
The Seleucid Empire
Resistance and Revolt. The Case of the Maccabees. Robert Doran
Temple or Taxes? What Sparked the Maccabean Revolt? John J. Collins
The Roman Empire
The Importance of Perspective. The Jewish-Roman Conflict of 66-70 CE as a Revolution James McLaren and Martin Goodman
Josephus, Jewish Resistance and the Masada Myth. Tessa Rajak
The Impact of the Jewish Rebellions, 66 – 135 CE. Destruction or Provincialization? Seth Schwartz
Engels, David. 2017. Benefactors, Kings, Rulers. Studies on the Seleukid Empire between East and West (Studia Hellenistica 57). Leuven: Peeters.
The present volume contains a series of critical studies devoted to the political, institutional and ideological construction of the Seleukid empire, with particular focus on the complex interplay between the Seleukids’ Graeco-Macedonian background and their Achaimenid heritage. In order to explore to what extent the Seleukids can be considered heirs to the Achaimenids and precursors of the Parthians, and to what extent they simply ‘imported’ cultural and political behavioural patterns developed in Greece and Macedonia, the studies collected here adopt a decidedly interdisciplinary and diachronic approach. They investigate diverse fields, including the construction of the Seleukid royal court; the title of ‘Great King’; the prosopography of early Seleukid Iran; the integration of the ‘Upper Satrapies’ into the new Seleukid empire; the continued importance of the Iranian religions under the early Seleukids; the reign of the Persian Frataraka; the ‘feudalisation’ of the Seleukid empire under Antiochos III; the construction of a Hellenistic gymnasion in Seleukid Jerusalem; the importance of the Seleukid kingdom as a model for Eunous’ Sicilian slave-state; the evolution of the Syrian civic elite; and the potential influence of Seleukos’ royal propaganda on the religious self-legitimation of Augustus. Finally, a general comparison is proposed between the Seleukid empire and 19th century European colonialism.
Pirngruber, Reinhard. 2017. The economy of late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. Cambridge University Press.
In this book Reinhard Pirngruber provides a full reassessment of the economic structures and market performance in Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. His approach is informed by the theoretical insights of New Institutional Economics and draws heavily on archival cuneiform documents as well as providing the first exhaustive contextualisation of the price data contained in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. Historical information gleaned from the accounts of both Babylonian scholars and Greek authors shows the impact of imperial politics on prices in form of exogenous shocks affecting supply and demand. Attention is also paid to the amount of money in circulation. Moreover, the use of regression analysis in modelling historical events breaks new ground in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and gives new impetus to the use of modern economic theory. The book explains the theoretical and statistical methods used so that it is accessible to the full range of historians.
Source: The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia | Reinhard Pirngruber
Seleukid Royal Women is introduced by our guest contributor Khodadad Rezakhani, a Humboldt Fellow at the Institute of Iranian Studies, Free University of Berlin.
Coskun, Altay & Alex McAuley (eds.). 2016. Seleukid royal women: Creation, representation and distortion of Hellenistic queenship in the Seleukid Empire (Historia, Einzelschriften 240). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
‘The study of any period of ancient history of Iran away from political history is a welcomed change in scholarship. The arrival of this volume, edited by two of the most prominent scholars of the Hellenistic period and in a framing that embraces the multi-cultural nature of the Seleukid kingship is a most exciting development that needs to be celebrated. It should also be considered as a blue-print for future studies of similar calibre and scope in other periods of the history of the region. Hopefully, the proliferation of such studies would bring the history of “in-between” (to quote the prologue) more to the attention of the general audiences, as well as the scholars, of the ancient world. Perhaps the volume could have benefited from more in-depth studies of the majority of the (non-Greek speaking) areas of the Seleukid domains, a lacuna which is perhaps more a fault of the experts of these non-Greek speaking in-betweens than the erudite editors of the volume’.
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Binder, Carsten, Henning Börm & Andreas Luther (eds.). 2016. Diwan. Untersuchungen zu Geschichte und Kultur des Nahen Ostens und des östlichen Mittelmeerraumes im Altertum. Festschrift für Josef Wiesehöfer zum 65. Geburtstag. Duisburg: Wellem Verlag.
This volume presents a collection of 32 articles contributed by historians, numismatists and scholar of Ancient Near East history and historiography in celebration of Josef Wiesehöfer 65th birthday.
Table of Contents:
Continue reading History and Culture of the Ancient Near East
This revised doctoral thesis surveys the eastern provinces of the Seleucid Empire. Much work has been done in the last decades, especially on the documents from Babylon, which allows for certain periods a much more certain chronology than was possible earlier. Plischke makes good use of this material and provides in general a sound survey of the sources and the voluminous secondary literature on the Seleucid kingdom, although her main focus is on Iran. She begins with a survey of recent research and follows it up with a rather long-winded listing of the literary, epigraphic and numismatic sources, which offers nothing new and could have been more sharply focussed – does a reader of this highly complex work really need to be told that Polybios is “generally regarded as reliable” or that Livy wrote his History of Rome in the Augustan period? The preliminary chapter also offers a cursory account of well-known events from Kyros II until the death of Roxane and Alexander IV. This makes a reader wonder whether the book is intended for a professional or a general readership. (R. Malcolm Errington, BMCR)*
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Matthew P. Canepa. 2014. Seleukid sacred architecture, royal cult and the transformation of Iranian culture in the Middle Iranian period. Iranian Studies 48(1). 1-27.
This article proposes a new approach to three of the most persistent problems in the study of Iranian art and religion from the coming of Alexander to the fall of the Sasanians: the development of Iranian sacred architecture, the legacy of the Achaemenids, and the development of the art and ritual of Iranian kingship after Alexander. Canepa explores the ways in which the Seleukids contributed basic and enduring elements of Iranian religious and royal culture that lasted throughout late antiquity. Beyond stressing simple continuities or breaks with the Babylonian, Achaemenid or Macedonian traditions, this article argues that the Seleukids selectively integrated a variety of cultural, architectural and religious traditions to forge what became the architectural vocabularies and religious expressions of the Middle Iranian era.
The Seleucid Empire (311–64 BCE) was unlike anything the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds had seen. Stretching from present-day Bulgaria to Tajikistan—the bulk of Alexander the Great’s Asian conquests—the kingdom encompassed a territory of remarkable ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity; yet it did not include Macedonia, the ancestral homeland of the dynasty. The Land of the Elephant Kings investigates how the Seleucid kings, ruling over lands to which they had no historic claim, attempted to transform this territory into a coherent and meaningful space.
Based on recent archaeological evidence and ancient primary sources, Paul J. Kosmin’s multidisciplinary approach treats the Seleucid Empire not as a mosaic of regions but as a land unified in imperial ideology and articulated by spatial practices. Kosmin uncovers how Seleucid geographers and ethnographers worked to naturalize the kingdom’s borders with India and Central Asia in ways that shaped Roman and later medieval understandings of “the East.” In the West, Seleucid rulers turned their backs on Macedonia, shifting their sense of homeland to Syria. By mapping the Seleucid kings’ travels and studying the cities they founded—an ambitious colonial policy that has influenced the Near East to this day—Kosmin shows how the empire’s territorial identity was constructed on the ground. In the empire’s final century, with enemies pressing harder and central power disintegrating, we see that the very modes by which Seleucid territory had been formed determined the way in which it fell apart.
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