Aršāma and his World

Tuplin, Christopher J. & John Ma (eds.). 2020. Aršāma and his world: The Bodleian letters in context: Volume I: The Bodleian letters. -Volume II: Bullae and seals. -Volume III: Aršāma’s world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

During the Second World War the Bodleian Library in Oxford acquired a set of Aramaic letters, eight sealings, and the two leather bags in which the sealed letters were once stored. The letters concern the affairs of Aršāma, satrap of Egypt in the later fifth century. Taken with other material associated with him (mostly in Aramaic, Demotic Egyptian, and Akkadian), they illuminate the Achaemenid world of which Aršāama was a privileged member and evoke a wide range of social, economic, cultural, organizational, and political perspectives, from multi-lingual communication, storage and disbursement of resources, and satrapal remuneration, to cross-regional ethnic movement, long-distance travel, religious practice, and iconographic projection of ideological messages.

Particular highlights include a travel authorization (the only example of something implicit in numerous Persepolis documents), texts about the religious life of the Judaean garrison at Elephantine, Aršāma’s magnificent seal (a masterpiece of Achaemenid glyptic, inherited from a son of Darius I), and echoes of temporary disturbances to Persian management of Egypt. But what is also impressive is the underlying sense of systematic coherence founded on and expressed in the use of formal, even formalized, written communication as a means of control. The Aršāma dossier is not alone in evoking that sense, but its size, variety, and focus upon a single individual give it a unique quality.

Though this material has not been hidden from view, it has been insufficiently explored: it is the purpose of the three volumes of Aršāma and his World: The Bodleian Letters in Context to provide the fullest presentation and historical contextualization of this extraordinary cache yet attempted. Volume I presents and translates the letters alongside a detailed line-by-line commentary, while Volume II reconstructs the two seals that made the clay bullae that sealed the letters, with special attention to Aršāma’s magnificent heirloom seal. Volume III comprises a series of thematic essays which further explore the administrative, economic, military, ideological, religious, and artistic environment to which Aršāma and the letters belonged.

Table of Contents:

Vol 1:

  1. Introduction
    1.1. Preface
    John Ma and Christopher J. Tuplin
    1.2. The Bodleian Achaemenid Aramaic Letters:
    A Fragmentary History
    Lindsay Allen
  2. The Bodleian Letters
    2.1. The Bodleian Letters: Text and Translation
    D. G. K. Taylor
    2.2. The Bodleian Letters: Glossary and Concordance
    D. G. K. Taylor
    2.3. The Bodleian Letters: Commentary
    Christopher J. Tuplin
  3. Appendix
    3.1. The Egyptian Documents 287
    Harry S. Smith, Cary J. Martin, and Christopher J. Tuplin
    3.2. The Akkadian Documents 300
    Reinhard Pirngruber
    3.3 Photographic Record

Vol :

  1. Catalogue of Bullae
    Mark B. Garrison and Deniz Kaptan
  2. The Seal of Prince Aršāma: From Persepolis to Oxford 46
    Mark B. Garrison and Wouter F. M. Henkelman
    Appendix: Elamite Texts Concerning Aršāma 1
    Wouter F. M. Henkelman
  3. The Stamp Seal
    Mark B. Garrison and Deniz Kaptan
  4. Anatolian Connections
    Deniz Kaptan
  5. Nakhtḥor in Persepolis
    Wouter F. M. Henkelman
    Appendix: Seals Associated with Satraps and Satrap-Level
    Mark B. Garrison

Vol 3:

  1. Introduction
    1.1. Aršāma: Prince and Satrap
    Christopher J. Tuplin
  2. Letters and Administration
    2.1. Persian in Official Documents and the Processes of
    Multilingual Administration
    Jan Tavernier
    2.2. Masterful Missives: Form and Authority in Aršāma’s Letters
    Jennifer Hilder
    2.3. The Aršāma Corpus through the Lens of Babylonian Epistolography
    Michael Jursa
  3. Control and Connectivity
    3.1. The Persian Empire
    Amélie Kuhrt
    3.2. Frustrated Frondeurs or Loyal Kings’ Men? Nobles at the Achaemenid Court
    †Arthur P. Keaveney
    3.3. The Royal Road from Herodotus to Xenophon (via Ctesias)
    Eran Almagor
  4. Economics
    4.1. Aršāma the Vampire
    John Ma
    4.2. Silverization, Prices, and Tribute in the Achaemenid Empire
    Alain Bresson
    4.3. Aršāma, Egyptian Trade, and the Peloponnesian War
    John O. Hyland
  5. Egyptian Perspectives
    5.1. The Multi-Ethnic World of Achaemenid Egypt
    Günter Vittmann
    5.2. Aramaic Texts and the Achaemenid Administration of Egypt
    Lisbeth S. Fried
    5.3. The Military Environment of Achaemenid Egypt
    Christopher J. Tuplin
    5.4. The Passover and the Temple of YHW: On the Interaction between the Authorities and the Judaean Community at Elephantine as Reflected in the Yedanyah Archive
    Gard Granerød
    5.5. The Fall and Rise of the Elephantine Temple
    Christopher J. Tuplin
    5.6. After Aršāma: Persian Echoes in Early Ptolemaic Egypt
    Dorothy J. Thompson