Dynasties of Persia and figurative art

Compareti, Matteo. 2019. Dinastie di Persia e arte figurativa. Bibliografia ragionata per/un millennio e mezzo di iconografie iraniche. Bologna: edito da Paolo Emilio Persiani.

Dinastie di Persia e arte figurativa – Scopo di quest’opera è quello di fornire una bibliografia quanto più aggiornata e circostanziata possibile sulla produzione artistica persiana dall’epoca antica fino all’arrivo dei turchi selgiuchidi. Il testo si presenta quindi come una rassegna relativa a un periodo di tempo molto lungo, dalla metà del I millennio a.C. circa alla fine del I millennio d.C. Il volume – probabilmente tra i lavori più esaustivi per ciò che riguarda lo studio della civiltà e dell’arte persiana – può essere collocato tra le pietre miliari del settore. Obiettivo principale è quello di agevolare un’indagine quanto più documentata possibile della fase tardo-antica dell’arte iranica, con particolare riguardo all’epoca sasanide, secondo alcuni una sorta di “età dell’oro” persiana.
L’iconografia occupa un ruolo privilegiato all’interno della rassegna in senso ampio e onnicomprensivo, senza però sottrarre importanza a quelli che sono gli elementi di fondo mesopotamici e – a partire da una certa epoca – ellenistici, determinanti per la formazione della cultura iranica antica.
Saggio di natura storico-artistica, il lavoro di Compareti è eclettico e minuzioso anche per quanto concerne l’utilizzo delle fonti scritte (mesopotamiche, classiche, medio-iraniche, siriache, cinesi, islamiche, ecc.) atte a proporre identificazioni e letture altrimenti estremamente ardue. Lo studio è preceduto da un’introduzione del noto iranista e islamista Gianroberto Scarcia, da sempre attento testimone di ogni aspetto culturale prodotto in terra d’Iran.

The end of Middle East history

Bulliet, Richard. 2020. The end of Middle East history and other conjectures (Mizan Series 3). Harvard University Press.

The End of Middle East History and Other Conjectures is an unapologetic collection of imaginative essays from thought-provoking Middle East scholar Richard W. Bulliet. Not your ordinary think pieces, this volume collects for the first time Bulliet’s Big Bang–Big Crunch theory of Islamic history and his illuminating conception of the “Muslim South.” Speculations range from future political events to counterfactual histories of how reversal of the outcome of a 1529 battle might have profoundly altered history. After fifty years of posing and answering daring historical questions, Bulliet happily tackles an array of conjectures on subjects as diverse as the origin of civilization, the end of Middle East history, and future interpretations of the twentieth century.

Source: The End of Middle East History and Other Conjectures — Richard W. Bulliet | Harvard University Press

Rome, Persia, and Arabia

Fisher, Greg. 2019. Rome, Persia, and Arabia: Shaping the Middle East from Pompey to Muhammad. London and New York: Routledge.

Rome, Persia, and Arabia traces the enormous impact that the Great Powers of antiquity exerted on Arabia and the Arabs, between the arrival of Roman forces in the Middle East in 63 BC and the death of the Prophet Muhammad in AD 632.

Richly illustrated and covering a vast area from the fertile lands of South Arabia to the bleak deserts of Iraq and Syria, this book provides a detailed and captivating narrative of the way that the empires of antiquity affected the politics, culture, and religion of the Arabs. It examines Rome’s first tentative contacts in the Syrian steppe and the controversial mission of Aelius Gallus to Yemen, and takes in the city states, kingdoms, and tribes caught up in the struggle for supremacy between Rome and Persia, including the city state of Hatra, one of the many archaeological sites in the Middle East that have suffered deliberate vandalism at the hands of the ‘Islamic State’. The development of an Arab Christianity spanning the Middle East, the emergence of Arab fiefdoms at the edges of imperial power, and the crucial appearance of strong Arab leadership in the century before Islam provide a clear picture of the importance of pre-Islamic Arabia and the Arabs to understanding world and regional history.

Rome, Persia, and Arabia includes discussions of heritage destruction in the Middle East, the emergence of Islam, and modern research into the anthropology of ancient tribal societies and their relationship with the states around them. This comprehensive and wide-ranging book delivers an authoritative chronicle of a crucial but little known era in world history, and is for any reader with an interest in the ancient Middle East, Arabia, and the Roman and Persian empires.

A New Approach to the uštauuaitī Gāϑā

Kellens, Jean. 2019. Lecture sceptique et aventureuse de la Gâthâ uštauuaitī (Études Avestiques et Mazdéennes 6). Paris: de Boccard.

On the subject of this booklet, I ended my contribution to the Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, published in 2015, but written in 2011, by expressing my conviction that the time had come to imagine new methods of approaching the Gâthâs and I have indeed tried it in my 2011-2012 (Kellens 2013a) and 2012-2013 (Kellens 2014a) course on the Gâthâ ahunauuaitī. I am trying to continue the experience with uštauuaitī (Yasna 43-46).

Ceramics and the Archaeological Achaemenid Horizon

Genito, Bruno & Giulio Maresca (eds.). 2019. Ceramics and the Archaeological Achaemenid Horizon: Near East, Iran and Central Asia. Napoli: Unior Press.

The book collects the proceedings of a workshop entitled “The Achaemenid Horizon in the Light of Ceramic Data: Production-related Issues and Cultural Interactions from the Ancient Near East to Central Asia” held at the Dipartimento Asia, Africa e Mediterraneo of the Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale” on January, 25th 2016. The idea was to organise a scientific colloquium to deal with the issue of the cultural interactions within the broad geographic area subject to the political control of the Achaemenid dynasty in the light of recent researches on the ceramic evidence from archaeological contexts both in “central” and “peripheral” territories of the Empire. The Organisers felt this was a particularly important task, since pottery production in this vast area during the Achaemenid period has always been an issue only partially known and, however, never addressed in a comprehensive way. Several reasons can be taken into account to explain this point. First of all the circumstance that the complex dynamics leading to the formation and to the development of the Achaemenid political and administrative entity, although quite well documented from an historical point of view, are in some cases somewhat evanescent if one tries to evaluate their material consistency on the field. In addition, the possibility to relate specific traces of the material culture to a cultural horizon clearly recognizable as “Achaemenid” seems to be an even more difficult task.
The workshop was conceived as a one-day colloquium having also the aim to develop a network to confront experiences, to share information, to open new research scenarios and to foster scientific cooperation.

Table of contents:

  • BRUNO GENITO, Introductory Issues on Archaeological Achaemenid Horizon
  • ALESSANDRO POGGIO, A Multi-Horizon Perspective. Western Anatolian Material Evidence in the Persian Period
  • ROCCO PALERMO, After the Empire. Archaeology of the Achaemenid and Early Hellenistic Period in the Heartland of Assyria
  • ROBERTO DAN, PRISCILLA VITOLO, MANUEL CASTELLUCCIA, ROWENA GIURA, From Urartu to “Media”. A Reassessment of socalled “Post-Urartian” or “Median” Pottery: 1. Vases with two Horned Handles
  • MANUEL CASTELLUCCIA, Some Remarks on Achaemenid Era Pottery. Assemblages from Transcaucasia
  • JACOPO BRUNO, Between the Iranian Plateau and Central Asia: the Ceramic Complex of the Upper Atrek Valley during the Achaemenid Period
  • GIULIO MARESCA, The Achaemenid Ceramic Horizon as seen from Ancient Zranka: an Overview
  • FABIANA RAIANO, Searching an Achaemenid Horizon in Sogdiana according to the Archaeological Evidences from the South-western Area of Samarkand
  • GIAN LUCA BONORA, The Cultural Persian and Achaemenid Evidence in the Inner Syrdarya Delta
  • ELISA IORI, Mind the Gap. Local Persistence and Iranian Legacy in Gandhara: New Evidence from Swat
  • Rémy BOUCHARLAT, Concluding Remarks

STUDIA IRANICA 48(1)

The first issue of Studia Iranica 48 (2019) has been published. For a table of contents and access to individual articles, see below or visit this page.

  • Alisher BEGMATOV: Commodity Terms in the Languages of Central Eurasia. New Interpretations from Mugh Document A-1
  • Mihaela TIMUŞ: Pōryōtkēšān versus Kēšdārān. L’autorité religieuse contre les tenants d’autres doctrines
  • Nikolaus OVERTOOM: Considering the Failures of the Parthians against the Invasions of the Central Asian Tribal Confederations in the 120s BC
  • Étienne DE LA VAISSIÈRE: Al-Mu’taṣim et l’Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg
  • Jean-Pierre DIGARD: Un pan méconnu de la civilisation iranienne. Son «système domesticatoire»
  • Comptes rendus

The gender division of labour during the Proto-Elamite period

Yousefi Zoshk, Rouhollah, Saeed Baghizadeh & Donya Etemadifar. 2019. The gender division of labour during the proto-Elamite period in late 4th millennium BCE Iran. A case study from Tepe Sofalin in Iranian Central Plateau. In Julia Katharina Koch & Wiebke Kirleis (eds.), Gender Transformations in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies, 423-434. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

This article examines craft specialisation and the gender division of labour in pastoral nomad societies on the Iranian Central Plateau in the late 4th millennium BCE, a time when specialisation reaches its highest level of complexity. In proto-Elamite communities, women’s involvement in non-domestic production increased as social complexity progressed. Although archaeologists have largely moved beyond these typologies, the remnants of these modes of thought that the role of women were underestimated are still pervasive in much of the literature on the gender division of labour. This article argues that in proto-Elamite societies, specialised production occurred within the household, using specialised workers, and that this involved the participation of men, women, and children. Using Iranian archaeology of the 4th millennium BCE, during which complex societies emerged, as a reference point, this article constructs the argument that the specialised workers divided within their gender may have been the centre of production before pre-state political systems, within a pastoral nomadism subsistence system. Such household production and payment of workers by means of rations does not necessarily connote a lower level of socio-political or economic development. In this article, we explore the history of research on proto-Elamite economic systems, in particular, archaeological research on late 4th millennium BCE Iran. We then use these concepts to examine the role of gender in specialised household production based on proto-Elamite written texts, which mainly deal with workers and rations.

Half-human and Monstrous Races in Zoroastrian Tradition

Agostini, Domenico. 2019. Half-human and monstrous races in Zoroastrian tradition. Journal of the American Oriental Society 139(4). 805–818.

Legends and stories about fabulous races that dwelt in India or in Africa circulated in Iran probably since the Achaemenid times. Unfortunately, scholarship on this topic has neglected some late Iranian and, especially, Zoroastrian sources, such as Draxt ī āsūrīg (The Assyrian tree), the Bundahišn (Primal Creation), the Ayādgār ī Jāmāspīg (The memorial of Jāmāsp), and the New Persian epic Šāhnāme. This article examines the aforementioned sources and discusses their accounts of five fabulous races from an Iranian, and especially Zoroastrian, perspective and through a comparative approach to some similar neighboring traditions.

This article is also available from the author’s academia page.

Music of a Thousand Years

Lucas, Ann. 2019. Music of a thousand years: A new history of Persian musical traditions. Oakland: University of California Press.

Iran’s particular system of traditional Persian art music has been long treated as the product of an ever-evolving, ancient Persian culture. In Music of a Thousand Years, Ann E. Lucas argues that this music is a modern phenomenon indelibly tied to changing notions of Iran’s national history. Rather than considering a single Persian music history, Lucas demonstrates cultural dissimilarity and discontinuity over time, bringing to light two different notions of music-making in relation to premodern and modern musical norms. An important corrective to the history of Persian music, Music of a Thousand Years is the first work to align understandings of Middle Eastern music history with current understandings of the region’s political history.

Source: Music of a Thousand Years by Ann E. Lucas | University of California Press

Ann E. Lucas is Assistant Professor of ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at Boston College, where she also teaches in the Islamic Civilizations and Societies Program. She is recognized for her work on music historiography of the Middle East.

A free open access ebook will be available upon publication of the book. Visit this link to find out more: www.luminosoa.org.

Gewaltsamer Herrschaftsübergang

Börm, Henning. 2019. Fragwürdige Ansprüche: Gewaltsamer Herrschaftsübergang im spätantiken Iran am Beispiel von Narseh und Bahrām Čōbīn. In Tilmann Trausch (ed.), Norm, Normabweichung und Praxis des Herrschaftsübergangs in transkultureller Perspektive (Macht Und Herrschaft 3), 187–224. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

[…] This chapter focuses on two cases in which men violently seized power during civil wars, examining which strategies were used to justify the breach of peace. The first case comes from 293 CE, when the Sasanian prince Narseh rebelled against his great-nephew Bahrām III; after his victory, he erected a monument in Pāikūlı̄ with an inscription in which he presented himself as a champion of the aristocracy who had led the resistance against an unlawful king. Only after the defeat of his opponents did Narseh raise his own claim to the throne. The second example analyzed in this chapter is the case of Bahrām Čōbı̄n, who did not belong to the royal family
and rebelled in 589 CE against King Hormizd IV. […]

The publisher offers a Table of Contents.

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