Ancient Iranian Numismatics

Faghfoury, Mostafa (ed.). 2020. Ancient Iranian Numismatics: In Memory of David Sellwood. Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.

The present volume which includes some of the most recent studies on ancient Iranian numismatics has been dedicated to the memory of David Sellwood (1925-2012). Sellwood spent more than fifty years of his life studying and publishing about the history and coinage of Iran. His legacy is exhibited in this volume through the contributions of individuals from different backgrounds and countries who have participated to make this book possible. He would have been pleased to see that not only his old friends remember him, but also that some young scholars, who were not even born when the first edition of his Introduction to the Coinage of Parthia was published in 1971, are now working in the areas of his interests.

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Reign of Arrows

Overtoom, Nikolaus Leo. 2020. Reign of Arrows: The Rise of the Parthian Empire in the Hellenistic Middle East. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

From its origins as a minor nomadic tribe to its status as a major world empire, the rise of the Parthian state in the ancient world is nothing short of remarkable. In their early history, the Parthians benefitted from strong leadership, a flexible and accommodating cultural identity, and innovative military characteristics that allowed them to compete against and even overcome Greek, Persian, Central Asian, and eventually Roman rivals. Reign of Arrows provides the first comprehensive study, in almost a century, dedicated entirely to early Parthian history. Assimilating a wide array of especially recent scholarship across numerous fields of study, Nikolaus Overtoom presents the most cogent, well rounded, and up-to-date account of the Parthian empire in its wider context of Hellenistic history. It explains the political and military encounters that shaped the international environment of the Hellenistic Middle East from the middle third to the early first centuries BCE. This study combines traditional historical approaches, such as source criticism and the integration of material evidence, with the incorporation of modern international relations theory to better examine the emergence and expansion of Parthian power. Relevant to historians, classicists, political scientists, and general readers interested in the ancient world and military history, Reign of Arrows reimagines and reconstructs the rise of the Parthians within the hotly contested and dangerously competitive international environment of the Hellenistic world.

Violence and the Mutilated Body in Achaemenid Iran

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2020. Violence and the Mutilated Body in Achaemenid Iran. In Garrett G. Fagan, Linda Fibiger, Mark Hudson, and Matthew Trundle (eds.), The Cambridge World History of Violence. Volume 1: The Prehistoric and Ancient Worlds. Cambridge.

Little thought per se has been given to women as agents of violence in antiquity, let alone to the role of the royal harem as the site of revenge-fuelled violence and murder. This chapter addresses this gap by exploring how royal women in the Persian Empire could be instruments of violence. While acknowledging the Greek obsession with this topos, it goes beyond the Western preoccupation with the harem as a site of Oriental decadence and attempts to put stories of women’s violence against women into its ancient Near Eastern context. It explores the mutilation of the body and is particularly focused on the Herodotean tale (which has genuine Persian roots) of the revenge mutilations of Amestris, wife of Xerxes I.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies

The first issue of volume 79 of Journal of Near Eastern Studies (JNES) is out. Several papers of this issue are related to Iran:

Lives of Sogdians in Medieval China

Huber, Moritz. 2020. Lives of Sogdians in medieval China (Asiatische Forschungen 160). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Sogdians, a group of Central Asians based between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya, played a significant historical role at the crossroads of the Silk Roads. Travelling the world as caravan leaders, organised in trading networks, they were found from Byzantium to the Chinese heartland. The Sogdian language was a candidate for the lingua franca of the Silk Roads for some hundred years and Sogdians acted as polyglot mediators at courts and prominent translators of Buddhist texts. In the Chinese capitals, fire temples were erected for their use and the exotic products they imported were cherished by the people and the court.
This socio-historical study by Moritz Huber provides a translation of the transmitted Chinese records on Sogdians in Sogdiana and China and combines them with archaeological evidence to present a differentiated picture of their presence in China from the 3rd to 10th century CE. Besides the transcription and translation of all epitaphs of Sogdians from an archaeological context, used to tell their interconnected biographies, as well as a detailed discussion of their political organisation in China under the sabao 薩保/薩寶, this publication further includes a case-study of the Shi 史 families in Guyuan 固原, Ningxia 寧夏 Province.

Zoroastrian Scholasticism in Late Antiquity

Zeini, Arash. 2020. Zoroastrian scholasticism in late antiquity. The Pahlavi version of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

In late antiquity, Zoroastrian exegetes set out to translate their ancient canonical texts into Middle Persian, the vernacular of their time. Although undated, these translations, commonly known as the Zand, are often associated with the Sasanian era (224–651 ce). Despite the many challenges the Zand offers to us today, it is indispensable for investigations of late antique exegesis of the Avesta, a collection of religious and ritual texts commonly regarded as the Zoroastrians’ scripture.

Arash Zeini also offers a fresh edition of the Middle Persian version of the Avestan Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, a ritual text composed in the Old Iranian language of Avestan, commonly dated to the middle of the second millennium bce. Zeini challenges the view that considers the Zand’s study an auxiliary science to Avestan studies, framing the text instead within the exegetical context from which it emerged.

Zaraθuštrōtǝma: Zoroastrian and Iranian Studies in Honour of Philip Kreyenbroek

Farridnejad, Shervin (ed.). 2020. Zaraθuštrōtǝma: Zoroastrian and Iranian studies in honour of Philip G. Kreyenbroek (Ancient Iran Series 10). Irvine: Jordan Center for Persian Studies.

This Festschrift is a collection of articles dedicated to one of the most distinguished scholars of Iranian Studies and a most prolific teacher of Zoroastrian and Kurdish literatures and religions, Philip G. Kreyenbroek. The volume consists of thirteen contributions, brings together some of the best-known experts in their fields to reflect the love and admiration of his students, colleagues and friends and are representative of some of his wide-ranging scholarly interests, including Zoroastrian literature and rituals as well as Iranian philology and mythology.

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Orientalism and the Reception of Powerful Women

Carlà-Uhink, Filippo & Anja Wieber (eds.). 2020. Orientalism and the reception of powerful women from the ancient world. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

This volume investigates how ancient women, and particularly powerful women, such as queens and empresses, have been re-imagined in Western (and not only Western) arts; highlights how this re-imagination and re-visualization is, more often than not, the product of Orientalist stereotypes – even when dealing with women who had nothing to do with Eastern regions; and compares these images with examples of Eastern gaze on the same women. Through the chapters in this volume, readers will discover the similarities and differences in the ways in which women in power were and still are described and decried by their opponents.

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Summer School in Languages and Linguistics

The Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics takes place from 13 to 24 July 2020 and offers courses on Old, Middle and New Iranian languages. For more information, see the school’s website.

The Leiden Summer School in Languages and Linguistics offers a varied program of specialised courses in Descriptive linguistics, in Chinese, Germanic, Indo-European, Indian, Iranian, Semitic languages and linguistics, as well as a number of introductory linguistic courses. During these two weeks of intense learning, you will be able to deepen and broaden your knowledge, at the same time enjoying the company of linguistics students and enthusiasts from all over the world.

Website of the Summer School

Ancient West & East

The latest volume of Ancient West & East, dedicated to Professor Amélie Kuhrt to celebrate her 75th birthday, contains several interesting papers. Table of contents of vol. 18 (2019) of the journal comes in the following:

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A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies