Iranian Studies from Ravenna, vol. 4

Ognibene, Paolo, Antonio Panaino & Andrea Piras. 2023. Studi Iranici Ravennati IV. Milano; Udine: Mimesis.

The forth volume of the Studi Iranici Ravennati, a collection of research papers on Iranian studies edited by the scholars of Iranian Studies at the University of Bologna in Ravenna.

Table of Contents

  • Matteo Compareti: “The So-Called “Six Kings of theWorld” and Other “Iranian” Elements in Quṣayr ‘Amra Paintings”
  • Gábor Kósa: “Another Hymn scroll? Quotations from an Unknown Collection of Chinese Manichaean Hymns”
  • Richard Foltz: “Vaso Abaev and the Language Gap between the Russian and Western Iranological Traditions”
  • Angelica Gaspari: “Medipers. inscr. plky, Part. inscr. plk. Nuove considerazioni sul monumento sasanide di Pāikūlī”
  • Alberto Merzari: “The Religion of Lichtwesen: A Brief Note on a Controversial Reference to Zoroastrianism in the Phenomenology of Spirit by G.W.F. Hegel”
  • Antonio Panaino: “The Star of Bethlehem, the Great Conjunction, and the Revival of Preposterous Solutions”
  • Antonio Panaino: “A Brief Addendum to The Star of Bethlehem […]”
  • Jeffrey Kotyk: “The Birth of Christ and the Persian Gift Bearers in Medieval Chinese Sources”
  • Stefano Buscherini: “Jupiter and Saturn conjunctions in Abiosus’ Dialogus: demonstrations 3-14″
  • Lorenzo Salvio: “Il rapporto tra l’ideologia turanista e la cultura iranica”
  • Antonio Panaino: “The “Mysterious”Evaporation of the So-Called “Avestan People” and Their Language”
  • Paolo Ognibene: “Alla ricerca di lingue sconosciute, fiori e farfalle: l’altra faccia delle spedizioni militari russe in Asia Centrale e nel Caucaso”
  • Andrea Piras: “Artaserse I Longimanus: riflessi avestici negli epiteti dell’onomastica achemenide”
  • Luca Colliva, Emad Matin: “Land of Persepolis, il rapporto preliminare della Campagna 2019”
  • Aleksej L. Čibirov: “Harold Bailey: a Cherkesska for an English Knight”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Sacred Kingshipin Ancient Iran: The Symbolic Language of Royalty in Achaemenid and Sasanian Ideologies”
  • Maria Francesca Melloni: “Nomen omen: gli antroponimi teoforici Waxšu-dāta– e Waxšu-dāθra– nell’onomastica centro-asiatica”
  • Diana V. Sokaeva: “Сакральныеперсонажи и символы нартовского эпоса осетин: трансформация образов раннихэпох (Сырдон)”
  • Mariano Errichiello: “Reflections on liminality, authority and agency of the Zoroastrian death rituals”
  • Antonio Panaino: “L’idea di Sfera Celeste tra Oriente e Classicità. Sviluppi e annotazioni a completamento di uno studio precedente”
  • Riccardo Pane: “La natività e l’adorazione dei magi nel programma iconologico di tre croci dipietra armene”
  • Boris A. Kaloev: “Il rito della consacrazione del cavallopresso gli Osseti”
  • Adal’bert L. Kun: “Notizie sul popolo Yaghnobi”
  • Š. Akimbetev: “Studisul Kohistan”

Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum, Paris-Berlin-Wien

Schindel, Nikolaus. 2022. Khusro I. (Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum, Paris-Berlin-Wien 4). 2 vols. Wien: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

The fourth volume of the series Sylloge Nummorum Sasanidarum, Paris-Berlin-Wien, covers the period of Khusro I (531–579). His long reign is generally considered the high point of Sasanian history. So far, numismatic research has only covered his coinage in overviews, but no detailed treatment has been compiled. Similarly, the number of coins properly published did not do justice to the importance of Khusro I’s coinage. For the first time, a detailed numismatic analysis based on a representative collection of material can be presented. While the numismatic documentation is still far from complete, some developments now become visible for the first time. One focus is on the mint abbreviations, because analysis of these gives access to important new information for Sasanian administrative and regional history. The observation of numismatic parameters is of particular importance in this respect, and while style no longer offers relevant clues, some other topics, such as the patterns of minting, do; as a result, the important and productive mint signature WH can be firmly located in the region Khuzistan. The value of Sasanian coinage for the reconstruction of political history is also evaluated. One chapter is dedicated to material analysis. The catalogue covers about 880 coins from the collections in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, as well as about 1200 additional coins. This is the most substantial documentation of the coinage of Khusro I compiled so far. The typology, legends and additional marks are documented and discussed in detail, with the text and catalogue divided into two separate volumes.


The Avestan Priestly College and its Gods: The Indo-Iranian Origins of a Mimetic Tradition

Panaino, Antonio. 2022. Le collège sacerdotal avestique et ses dieux: Aux origines indo-iraniennes d’une tradition mimétique (Mythologica Indo-Iranica II) (Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Sciences Religieuses 195). Turnhout: Brepols.

In this monograph, the author proposes a general reflection on the metaphysics of the Zoroastrian priestly organization in the light of the Indo-Iranian context and starting from the preparation of the sacrifice and the installation of the seven assistant priests in the solemn Zoroastrian liturgy under the direction of their chief-priest, the zaōtar-. The relationship between priests and gods is analysed in the light of the symbolism endorsed by the priestly college, which is “activated” as a mimetic double of the divine world. Thus, names, functions and liturgical correspondences between the eight priests (seven plus the zaōtar-) and the college of Aməṣ̌a Spəṇtas headed by Ahura Mazdā himself (as zaōtar-) are discussed. On the other hand, the book analyses the functional correspondences of the activated priestly team in the Vedic field. The author also develops a discussion concerning the unbroken chain of sacrificial rituality as a structure of the cosmic and temporal order. Within this framework, he highlights the importance of the deinstallation or deactivation of the sacrificial college before the end of the Yasna in the long liturgy, a theme that is linked to the question of the reinstallation of another college in the unbroken chain of cosmic liturgy. This study also sheds light on the question of the purpose of the sacrifice and that of the bloody sacrifice. Finally, it proposes a return to Kerdīr through an analysis of the “vision” of the High Priest, this time explained as an esoteric liturgy of the encounter with the feminine double.

Table of Contents


Chapitre premier. — Préparation du sacrifice et installation des sept prêtres : témoignages avestiques


Chapitre II. — Noms et fonctions des sept prêtres assistants
2.1. Considérations sur la disposition des assistants lors des cérémonies longues
2.2. Appendice 1 : Nērangestān 54-59
2.3. Appendice 2 : Nērangestān 60-61
2.4. Appendice 3 : disposition des prêtres selon le Nērangestān et le Visprad
2.5. Appendice 4 : symbolique de l’andarag

Chapitre III. — Les prêtres avestiques : traditions récentes

Chapitre IV. — Composition du collège sacerdotal gāθique et avestique récent à la lumière de la comparaison indo-iranienne : dieux et prêtres

Chapitre V. — Le collège sacerdotal et les Aməṣ̌a Spəṇtas
5.1. Appendice 5 : les autres listes de prêtres
5.2. Appendice 6 : avestique kauui-


Chapitre VI. — La chaîne ininterrompue de la liturgie du sacrifice
6.1. Réflexions sur le signifié de l’avestique ratu-

Chapitre VII. — Encore Y. 58 : désinstallation ou désengagement du collège sacerdotal ?
7.1. Appendice 7 : remarques sur le prêtre pasuuāzah-


Chapitre VIII. — À propos de l’avestique ratu-, raθβiia-, du pehlevi rad, radīg, rāspīg et du moyen-perse épigraphique rehīg [lysyk]
8.1. Appendice 8 : les lysyk de Kerdīr

Chapitre IX. — Jouer avec les dieux, jouer comme un dieu : le prêtre sraōšāuuarəza



The Sasanian Elephant Corps Revisited

Dmitriev, Vladimir. 2022. The Sasanian Elephant Corps Revisited: Ammianus Marcellinus on the Tactics of Persian Elephantry. Journal of Persianate Studies 15 (1), 1-13.

According to Ammianus Marcellinus, elephants substituted, to some extent, siege towers; he describes wooden towers on the backs of the animals, armed with Persian warriors who attacked the defenders of a fortress. Certainly, elephants may have served as an element of ancient psychological warfare. But, at the same time, it appears that the Sasanians employed elephants in their battle fighting, bearing warriors who attacked their enemies with various missiles. In open-field battles, elephants, as a rule, were introduced into the battle in an offensive situation. Ammianus Marcellinus does not offer any evidence as to elephants functioning as beasts of burden or draught animals; on the contrary, he always stresses the fact that they were military animals who posed a real danger to the Romans in battle.


The Roman-Parthian border area as a conflict and contact zone

Hartmann, Udo, Frank Schleicher & Timo Stickler (eds.), Imperia sine fine? Der römisch-parthische Grenzraum als Konflikt- und Kontaktzone vom späten 1. bis zum frühen 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer.

Wenn Vergil Rom als ein “Reich ohne Grenzen” (Aen. 1, 279) bezeichnet, mag dies im übertragenen Sinn zutreffen, tatsächlich verfügte das Imperium jedoch über lange und tief gestaffelte Festlandgrenzen auf allen drei Kontinenten. Dabei kam der Orientgrenze besondere Bedeutung zu, da den Römern hier mit dem Reich der Parther eine ebenbürtige Gesellschaft entgegentrat. Allerdings stießen die beiden Großreiche nur selten unmittelbar aufeinander, da sich zwischen ihnen ein Saum von Kleinstaaten erstreckte. In diesem Grenzraum trafen nicht nur zwei große Reiche mit ihren jeweiligen Sprachen und Organisationsstrukturen, sondern auch Ackerbau und nomadische Weidewirtschaft, unterschiedliche religiöse Vorstellungen und verschiedene Rechtsauffassungen aufeinander.Der Band versammelt Beiträge der Jenaer Tagung “Imperia sine fine?”, die eine Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Aspekte des Grenzraums zwischen Rom und Parthien als Konflikt- und Kontaktzone vom 1. bis zum 3. Jh. n. Chr. darstellen.


Medieval Muslim Mirrors for Princes

Marlow, Louise. 2023. Medieval Muslim mirrors for princes: An anthology of Arabic, Persian and Turkish political advice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The ‘mirror for princes’ genre of literature offers advice to a ruler, or ruler-to-be, concerning the exercise of royal power and the wellbeing of the body politic. This anthology presents selections from the ‘mirror literature’ produced in the Islamic Early Middle Period (roughly the tenth to twelfth centuries CE), newly translated from the original Arabic and Persian, as well as a previously translated Turkish example. In these texts, authors advise on a host of political issues which remain compelling to our contemporary world: political legitimacy and the ruler’s responsibilities, the limits of the ruler’s power and the limits of the subjects’ duty of obedience, the maintenance of social stability, causes of unrest, licit and illicit uses of force, the functions of governmental offices and the status and rights of diverse social groups. Medieval Muslim Mirrors for Princes is a unique introduction to this important body of literature, showing how these texts reflect and respond to the circumstances and conditions of their era, and of ours.


Towards a Manifesto for Middle Iranian Philology

Zeini, Arash. 2023. Towards a manifesto for Middle Iranian philology. Berkeley Working Papers in Middle Iranian Philology 0. 1–12.

The purpose of this manifesto is to raise broad questions about philological inquiry as a background to the purpose of this occasional journal. It reflects both on general questions of philology (Section 2) and delves into an example from the Middle Persian translations (Zand) of the Avesta in which can be seen a clash between the traditional approach in that field and the type of inquiry that I advocate here (Section 3).


Studies on the History of Rationality in Ancient Iran. Vol. 2

König, Götz. 2022. Studien zur Rationalitätsgeschichte im älteren Iran. Band II (Iranica 28). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

While the first volume of A History of Rationality in Ancient Iran aims both to determine the significance of ancient Iran within the framework of the theory of the Axial Age (German Achsenzeit) and to point to some of the basic figures of a history of rationality that can be recognised in the Iranian materials and still extends to the present day, the second volume shown here serves above all to extend this analysis of figures into thematic fields that are essential for the understanding of Iran.

In three sections – “Substance and Spirit”, “Explorations of the World. The Becoming of History”, “The Path to Truth” – a total of 16 texts are brought together which, on the one hand, outline basic constellations and concepts of thought, as they characterise the (older and younger) Avesta in particular, and, on the other hand, trace the movements which emanate from precisely these formations of thought.

The second volume is preceded, as it were, by a counterpoint to the discussion of the axial perspective in the first volume, by a critique of the historical-philosophical definition and classification of Iran and Zoroastrianism, as developed by Hegel in his various series of lectures and as it has since then sustainably guided the view of Iran in ancient studies.


Scribal Confusion in Aramaic Renderings of Iranian Anthroponyms

Tavernier, Jan & Annalisa Azzoni. 2023. Scribal confusion in Aramaic renderings of Iranian anthroponyms: A preliminary study. In: Yoram Cohen et al. (eds.), Telling of Olden Kings (The IOS Annual Volume 22), 52-66. Leiden: Brill.

The Persepolis textual material contains many Aramaic texts, the majority of which belong to the so-called Persepolis Fortification Archive (509 to 493 BCE), an administrative archive consisting of mostly Elamite texts. In this article, the authors examine some specific Aramaic spellings that occur in the Aramaic texts from Persepolis, sic: the Aramaic Persepolis Fortification texts (PFAT) and the Aramaic epigraphs accompanying the Elamite Fortification texts (PFAE). Our interest in these spellings is that they do not respect the phonology, morphology and lexicon of Aramaic. It is argued that these errors have been triggered by the Elamite phonology, morphological and lexical system and that they have been made by scribes whose mother tongue was not Aramaic, but Elamite or Old Iranian.


Routledge Handbook on the Sciences in Islamicate Societies

Brentjes, Sonja (ed.). 2023. Routledge handbook on the sciences in Islamicate societies: Practices from the 2nd/8th to the 13th/19th centuries. London: Routledge.

The Routledge Handbook on the Sciences in Islamicate Societies provides a comprehensive survey on science in the Islamic world from the 8th to the 19th century.

Across six sections, a group of subject experts discuss and analyze scientific practices across a wide range of Islamicate societies. The authors take into consideration several contexts in which science was practiced, ranging from intellectual traditions and persuasions to institutions, such as courts, schools, hospitals, and observatories, to the materiality of scientific practices, including the arts and craftsmanship. Chapters also devote attention to scientific practices of minority communities in Muslim majority societies, and Muslim minority groups in societies outside the Islamicate world, thereby allowing readers to better understand the opportunities and constraints of scientific practices under varying local conditions.

Through replacing Islam with Islamicate societies, the book opens up ways to explain similarities and differences between diverse societies ruled by Muslim dynasties. This handbook will be an invaluable resource for both established academics and students looking for an introduction to the field. It will appeal to those involved in the study of the history of science, the history of ideas, intellectual history, social or cultural history, Islamic studies, Middle East and African studies including history, and studies of Muslim communities in Europe and South and East Asia.

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