Categories
Books

Assyriology in Iran?

Daneshmand, Parsa. 2020. Assyriology in Iran? In Agnès Garcia-Ventura & Lorenzo Verderame (eds.), Perspectives on the History of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, 266–282. Winona Lake, Ind: Eisenbrauns.

Forṣat-od-Dowle Šīrāzī (1854-1920)

The title of this paper might be one fraught with difficulties. For one thing, there is hardly a field of study in Iran at the present time that can be labelled as Assyriology; instead, there are scattered individual efforts, self-studied research, and erratic workshops run by a small number of genuine specialists. Although Iran is the birthplace of cuneiform decipherment, Iranian universities offer no courses in Assyriology, nor is any local academic institute qualified to run a degree program in cuneiform studies.

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Books

Repetition of Preverbs in the Avesta

Forssman, Bernhard. 2020. Wiederholung von Präverbien im Avesta. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 170(2). 361–370.

The paper discusses the strange repetition of preverbs, well known from Old Avestan (e.g. nī. aēšəmō. nī.diiātąm. Y 48,7a), which seems to go back to the Proto-Indo-European language.

Categories
Journal

Der Islam 97 (2)

Among other interesting papers published in the latest issue of Der Islam, 97 (2), two contributions fall in the scope of Iranian Studies:

  • Sebastian Bitsch: Sengende Hitze, Eiseskälte oder Mond? Zum Echo zoroastrischer eschatologischer Vorstellungen am Beispiel des koranischen zamharīr

Abstract: This article discusses eventual Qurʾānic allusions to Zoroastrian texts by using the example of zamharīr (Q 76:13). In the early tafsīr and ḥadīth-literature the term is most commonly understood as a piercing cold, which has frequently been interpreted as a punishment in hell. This idea, it is argued, has significant parallels to the concept of cold as a punishment in hell or to the absence of cold as a characteristic of paradise in the Avestan and Middle-Persian literature. In addition, Christian and Jewish texts that emphasize a similar idea and have not been discussed in research so far are brought into consideration. The article thus aims to contribute to the inclusion of Zoroastrian texts in locating the genesis of the Qurʾān – or early Islamic exegesis – in the “epistemic space ” of late antiquity.

  • Gregor Schoeler: The “National Amnesia” in the Traditional History of Iran

Abstract: It is well known that the pre-Islamic “national history” of Iran (i. e., the indigenous secular historical tradition, transmitted orally over many centuries) knows nothing at all, or as good as nothing, about the dynasties and empires of the Medes, Achaemenids, Seleucids, and Parthians (ca. 700 BCE–226 CE). It is first with the Sasanians (226‒651 CE) that Iran’s “national history” evinces more detailed knowledge. Instead of reports on the historical Medes and Achaemenid dynasties, accounts of mythical and legendary dynasties, the Pīšdādians and Kayānians, are found.

In this essay, an attempt will be made to explain this “gap” in the pre-Islamic historical tradition, this “strange historical (or national) amnesiaˮ (Ehsan Yarshater) in the cultural memory of the Iranians, with the help of a theory on the structure and modality of oral tradition, based on field research, by the Belgian historian and anthropologist Jan Vansina. The structure in question concerns a tripartite perception of the past: a wealth of information about antiquity (traditions of origin or creation and reports on culture heroes) – plenty of information, too, on the recent and most recent times – and lying between them, a “gap” in the accounts. Vansina described this phenomenon as the “hourglass effect.” This is exactly the narrative structure of Iranian national history; it is evident that the Achaemenids and the other pre-Christian dynasties fall into the “gap” described by Vansina.

The same phenomenon can also be detected on the level of Sasanian history. We find there a plethora of information on the founder of the dynasty, Ardašīr (reigned 226‒241 CE); meanwhile, very few details are known of the kings following Ardašīr, and it is only as of Kavād I (reigned 488‒496 and 499‒531 CE) that we have outstanding historical information.

Categories
Events Online resources

The Sogdians

The exhibition, The Sogdians: Influencers on the Silk Roads, explores Sogdian art through existing material culture. It focuses on the golden age of the Sogdians, from the fourth to the eighth centuries CE. Various dimensions of Sogdian culture, from art, music, and feasting to religious and funerary practices, are presented in this digital exhibition. New 3-D models of metalwork objects, photographs of archaeological sites, high resolution images and international scholarship reveal new details about this period.

In 2019 the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery lunched a digital exhibition devoted to the Sogdians, major traders of the ancient Silk Roads, organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s Asian art museums in collaboration with the State Hermitage Museum, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (NYU), XE: Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement (NYU), the Bard Graduate Center, and the Association Sauvegarde Peinture Afrasiab.

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Books

The Sin of the Woman

Sadeghi, Fatemeh. 2020. The Sin of the Woman: Interrelations of Religious Judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam (Islamkundliche Untersuchungen, 336). Berlin: Klaus Schwarz Verlag.

Since the 1920s, the so-called “return to the roots”, has become a hegemonic discourse in Iran. Whereas the Pahlavi regimes (1925–1979) propagated the myth of the lost idyll of pre-Islamic Iran representing themselves as the true inheritors of those monarchies, the Islamists adopted a respective approach in regard to Islam. As a result, a similar fairytale was made about the early Islamic community. Such claims, as it were, are not so much about the past as they are about the present. So is this study. By delving into the past, it questions the widespread nostalgic notions considering the pre-Islamic era as a lost utopia, wherein women were free from the restrictions “imposed by Islam”. In point of fact such past is a fabrication. In the majority of cases, therefore, the revival projects invent traditions to legitimize current political agendas.

Table of Contents:

A Note on Persian and Arabic Transliteration and Translation
Preface
Introduction
Chapter I:
Women in the Sasanian Zoroastrianism
Chapter II:
Zoroastrian Dadestan: From Sasanian Era to Islam
Chapter III:
Purification
Chapter IV:
Islam and Menstruation
Chapter V:
Sexual Relations in Zoroastrianism and Islam
Epilogue
Bibliography
Glossary

Categories
Books

The Zoroastrian Vision, Straight in the Eyes

Azarnouche, Samra & Olivia Ramble. 2020. La Vision zoroastrienne, les yeux dans les yeux Commentaire sur la Dēn selon Dēnkard III.225. Revue de l’his toire des reli gions 237(3). 331–395.

Sassanian Seal MOT 6.1, Collection M. I. Mochiri, after Gnoli 1993: 80.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, the Dēn (Avestan daēnā “vision”) is a polysemic notion that denotes either an auroral psychopompic deity, or the religious doctrine, or again the sacred word of the Avesta. Passage 225 of the Dēnkard III, commented here for the first time, combines these different concepts, thereby not only bringing direct proof for the continuity of the word’s original meaning—“vision”—between the Avestan textual layer and the Middle Persian (Pahlavi) exegetic layer, but also testifying to the development of metaphysical speculation (with a neo-platonic backdrop) concerning the transcendental vision acquired by the magi. Material sources (iconographic as well as epigraphic) also contribute to highlighting the notion that the Dēn is the divine entity that one looks at straight in the eyes.

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Books

Imperial Celebrations of 1971

Steele, Robert. 2020. The Shah’s imperial celebrations of 1971: Nationalism, culture and politics in late Pahlavi Iran. London: I.B. Tauris.

In October 1971 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, held a celebration to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great. Dozens of heads of state descended on Persepolis for these Celebrations, where they were regaled to sumptuous banquets and entertainment. Critical journalists in Western Europe and North America lambasted the Shah for holding such a decadent event while many of his people lived in poverty. Due to the overwhelmingly negative press at the time, the event is still today widely remembered as a catastrophic failure.It is even said by many to have sparked the unrest that eventually led to the revolution and the Shah’s downfall in 1979.
In this first comprehensive academic study of the 2500th Anniversary Celebrations, Robert Steele looks beyond the pomp and splendour to examine the events’ origins, the goals the organisers set out to achieve with them and the extent to which these goals were accomplished. The book seeks to place the Celebrations in the context of the Shah’s rise, rather than his fall, uncovering the unparalleled international cultural and scholarly operation that was spurred by the Iranian regime for the occasion, exploring the effects the event had on Iran’s tourism industry and questioning narratives of the event’s cost.

Categories
Books

Egyptian objects from the Achaemenid period in Iran

Qahéri, Sépideh. 2020. Objets égyptiens et égyptianisants d’époque achéménide conservés en Iran (Persika, 20). Leuven: Peeters.

Par son rayonnement politico-économique, l’Égypte saïte constitue le plus grand pouvoir des royaumes méditerranéens des 7e-6e siècles av. J.-C. et une source d’inspiration dans la composition multiethnique de l’Empire achéménide. Au-delà des sources écrites, notre compréhension de la réelle position de l’Égypte dans le développement culturel du pouvoir perse est notamment tributaire de l’étude approfondie des témoignages archéologiques révélant l’activité ou l’installation des communautés égyptiennes au centre de l’Empire. Les anciennes fouilles menées dans les principales capitales achéménides (en Perse et Élam) ont mis au jour d’importants vestiges, qui demeuraient jusqu’à ce jour peu connus, voire ignorés pour certains. Les objets égyptiens et égyptianisants issus de ces sites appartiennent majoritairement au contexte royal et attestent l’appropriation des modèles pharaoniques dans la conception de la culture palatiale perse. Ils confirment en somme la contribution de divers corps de métiers égyptiens au fonctionnement de la vie de cour des Grands Rois mais aussi à l’essor architectural de leurs résidences. Le présent catalogue réunit pour la première fois une partie de ces découvertes: celles réparties dans les collections iraniennes. Il offre ainsi une source de référence pour de futures recherches sur les aegyptiaca de Perse conservés à l’extérieur de l’Iran mais aussi pour toutes les études portant sur les relations égypto-perses sous l’Empire achéménide.

La première partie de cet ouvrage est consacrée à la présentation des principaux sites archéologiques d’où proviennent les objets étudiés et à l’historique des fouilles. Dans une deuxième partie les données textuelles connues sur la présence égyptienne en Perse sont décrites. La troisième partie aborde les principaux musées iraniens conservant les pièces égyptiennes et égyptianisantes. Le catalogue des objets représente la quatrième et la plus grande partie du volume et propose un classement raisonné des découvertes sous quatre groupes typologiques.

Categories
Books

The Edict of Cyrus and Notions of Restoration in Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles

Gilhooley, Andrew M. 2020. The edict of Cyrus and notions of restoration in Ezra-Nehemiah and chronicles. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press.

The Edict of Cyrus, both opening Ezra-Nehemiah (Ezra 1:1-4) and closing Chronicles (2 Chron. 36:22-23), serves a different role in each book. In Ezra–Nehemiah, it is a command resulting in a restoration event that has failed, whereas in Chronicles it is a command anticipating a successful future restoration event. In the context of canon, these different uses of the edict are theologically significant, especially in formulating ideas of hope for the future in Chronicles.

While Chronicles is aware that a historical restoration transpired sometime in the past (1 Chron. 3:19-24; 9:2-44), it shares the sentiment of Ezra–Nehemiah, that the return was something of a failure. Through compositional analysis, Gilhooley argues that the edict closing Chronicles portrays the true, or rather, complete restoration not as a past event to be reflected upon but rather one to be anticipated sometime in the future—at a time when Israel was expected to see the establishment of a new glorified temple, political independence, release from servitude, and the blessings of new creation and of new cultic order.

Reading Chronicles as the last book of the Old Testament in accordance with various Jewish witnesses, we find that the edict is transformed into a programmatic conclusion to the canon. Accordingly, the eschatological return to Zion and reconstruction of the temple appear to be dominating concerns of the canonical editors. These verses that bring to an end both Chronicles and the Old Testament as a whole may also be read in dialogue with canon-conscious structural markers elsewhere and, therefore, could be formative in constructing a canonical theology.

Categories
Books

Jews and Syriac Christians

Butts, Aaron Michael & Simcha Gross (eds.). 2020. Jews and Syriac Christians: Intersections across the first millennium (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 180). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

Der vorliegende Band enthält sechzehn Studien, die ein breites Spektrum an Themen untersuchen – von Fragen zum
Ursprung bis zur Entwicklung kommunaler Grenzen, von zwischenmenschlichen Interaktionen bis zu gemeinsamen
historischen Bedingungen, die Juden und syrische Christen im ersten Jahrtausend n. Chr. betraf.

Mohr Siebeck

The publisher offers links to a flyer and a table of contents. ~AZ