Zoroastrian Iconographies from Pre-Islamic Persia and Central Asia

Compareti, Matteo. 2024. Studies on Zoroastrian Iconographies from Pre-Islamic Persia and Central Asia. Roma: WriteUp.

Sogdiana was an Eastern Iranian land situated in the territories of modern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It never formed a significant political or military force although, between the 6th-9th centuries, Sogdians became the main actors in the caravan and maritime trade networks commonly called the “Silk Road”. Most of archaeological and artistic materials about Sogdians come from excavations in ex-Soviet Central Asia, especially the site of Penjikent (Tajikistan). Wall paintings from this important Sogdian site show a native polytheistic faith with Zoroastrian background, which is still puzzling experts of Iranian studies. During the centuries, local artists adopted external cultural elements that – once individuated – could help to shed light on unidentified deities of the Sogdian pantheon. Their comparison with Zoroastrian deities depicted in pre-Islamic Persian arts represents an invaluable instrument to improving our knowledge of this fascinating but still enigmatic field of studies.


An Armenian Futūh Narrative

La Porta, Sergio & Alison M. Vacca. 2023. An Armenian Futūh Narrative: Łewond’s Eighth-Century History of the Caliphate (Late Antique and Medieval Islamic near East 4). Chicago: Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures of the University of Chicago.

The History of the Armenian priest Łewond is an important source for the history of early Islamic rule and the only contemporary chronicle of second/eighth-century caliphal rule in Armenia. This volume presents a diplomatic edition and new English translation of Łewond’s text, which describes events that took place during the century and a half following the Prophet Muḥammad’s death in AH 11/632 CE. The authors address Łewond’s account as a work of caliphal history, written in Armenian, from within the Caliphate. As such, this book provides a critical reading of the Caliphate from one of its most significant provinces. Reading notes clarify many aspects of the period covered to make the text understandable to students and specialists alike. Extensive commentary elucidates Łewond’s narrative objectives and situates his History in a broader Near Eastern historiographical context by bringing the text into new conversations with a constellation of Arabic, Greek, and Syriac works that cover the same period. The book thus stresses the multiplicity of voices operating in the Caliphate in this pivotal period of Near Eastern history.  


Festschrift Pierfrancesco Callieri

Colliva, Luca, Anna Filigenzi & Luca Maria Olivieri (eds.). 2023. Le forme della città: Iran, Gandhāra e Asia Centrale. Scritti offerti a Pierfrancesco Callieri in occasione del suo 65° compleanno (Serie Orientale Roma, Nuova Serie 34). Roma: ISMEO – Ass. Internazionale di Studi sul Mediterraneo e l’Oriente.

This Festschrift volume is dedicated to Pierfrancesco Callieri, honoring their distinguished contributions to the fields of Iranian Studies. This collection brings together an array of essays by eminent scholars, covering a wide range of topics that reflect the depth and breadth of Callieri’s academic impact. From historical analyses and cultural studies to religious and linguistic explorations and archaeological insights, each contribution not only celebrates Callieri’s legacy but also advances our understanding of these richly diverse regions.

Table of Contents


  • Askari Chaverdi, M. Hasan Talebian, An Analysis on the Functionof Kabah-Ye Zardosht in Naqsh-e Rostam in the ArchaeologicalContext of Shahr-E-Parseh
  • A. Askari Chaverdi, From Seminar to World Heritage List. ArchaeologicalLandscape of Sasanian Fars: Firuzabad, Bishapur, andSarvestan
  • L. Colliva, Dal monumento alla città, una “via mediana” per l’archeologia
  • J. Cuny, Nouvelles « Épaves » de la vaisselle perse en pierre : deuxmortiers de Suse
  • B. Genito, Remains of Domestic Buildings of Probable AchaemenidDate in Eastern Iran
  • S. Gondet, R. Boucharlat, The Firuzi Area within the ArchaeologicalContext of Persepolis: a Reappraisal, Based on Mapping andChronological Remarks
  • W.F.M. Henkelman, Pitch and “All Happiness.” Bitumen in the PersepolisArchives
  • D. Huff, Remarks on the Development of Sasanian Fire Temples
  • E. Matin, From Tol-e Takht to the Persian Gulf. Pierfrancesco Callieriand the Landscapes of Ancient Fars
  • D.T. Potts, Race and Racialism in Ancient Elam: some Observationson the Archers Frieze at Susa
  • M. Rahbar, The Sasanian Tower of Silence at Bandian: a Refutationof the Excarnation Theory
  • E.W. Sauer, J. Nokandeh, H.O. Rekavandi, The Military Origins ofCities on the Sasanian Empire’s Northern Frontiers
  • .J. Wiesehöfer, Iran: Remarks on the Importance of a Major Area between550 BCE and 650 CE.

Armenia, Iraq & Centra Asia

  • Badalyan, Some Notes on the Statues of a Bull and a Cow with ItsCalf in the Haldi Temple of Musasir
  • H.-P. Francort, Sur les traces de sphinx centrasiatiques en Bactriane,dans l’Altaï, au Xinjiang, et du Martichoras en Bactriane et enInde (IVe Siècle BCE-I/IIe Siècle CE)
  • A. Invernizzi, The Adiabenian Rider. A Note on the Parthian Rock Reliefat Khinis-Bavian
  • A. Ivantchik, Iranians in the Bosporus: a New Inscription of the Roman Period
  • B. Kaim, Stucco Decoration in the Fire Temple at Mele Hairam
  • C. Lippolis, The Layout of Parthian Nisa: an Updated Overview
  • C. Lo Muzio, The “Red Hall” Murals in the Varakhsha Palace(Bukhara Oasis): Hints for a New Reading
  • P.B. Lurje, A Worship Scene on the Wall of Hisorak Palace
  • B. Lyonnet, Questions on the Origin of the Iron Age Circular Fortressesin Central Asia and of Monumental Architecture in Sogdiana
  • V. Messina, Polis o Cosmopoli? Percezioni e realtà della città anticoorientaledi età ellenistica
  • C. Rapin, Sources antiques sur Maracanda-Zariaspa (La Sogdianeentre Spitamène et Alexandre Le Grand)
  • F. Sinisi, Cesura e innovazione nella glittica e nella numismatica del Nord-Ovest indiano tra epoca saka-pahlava e kushana
  • G. Vignato, Boundaries and Gates in Rock Monasteries Kucha as a Case Study


  • Ashraf Khan, T. Saeed, The Contribution of the Italian ArchaeologicalMission in Swat (Pakistan): a Tribute to Pierfrancesco Callieri
  • S. Baums, The Dharmarājika Bowl and Slab from Butkara I
  • P. Brancaccio, Between Storytelling and Performance. The Narrativeof the Buddha’s Life in Urbanized Gandhara
  • O. Coloru, Demetrio Rex Indorum, Menandro I e Barikot. Un’ipotesidi lavoro
  • A. Filigenzi, Il Tempio Vishnuita di Barikot: nuovi dati archeologicie qualche riflessione sul paesaggio identitario
  • Ghani-ur-Rahman, A Fitting Tribute to Pierfrancesco Callieri
  • E. Iori, The Achaemenid “Mirage” in Gandhāra: a Study of the 5th-4th Century BCE Pottery from Barikot
  • L.M. Olivieri, M. Minardi, Scavare a Barikot. Le fasi tardo-antiche
  • C.A. Petrie, Regional Variations in the Ceramic Assemblages of theBorderlands of Pakistan during the Hindu-Shahi and Early IslamicPeriods. Some Observations about Barikot and Akra, and theBroader Patterns They Reveal
  • M. Vidale, R. Micheli, Out of Context, but Part of a Broader Picture.A Hand-Axe from Late Bronze Age Barikot

Sasanian Administrations and Officials

Gyselen, Rika (ed.). 2024. Administrations et préposés d’époque sassanide. Nouvelles données à la mémoire de Philippe Gignoux (Cahiers de Studica Iranica 66). Paris: Association pour l’Avancement des études iraniennes.

This volume brings together studies based on primary sources, often unpublished, which highlight important aspects of the administration of the Sasanian Empire. Some complete our knowledge on the territorial establishment of the various administrations and of the mints, others deal with the actors of these institutions such as the magi and the scribes. The sources used are mainly seals and seal impressions on clay bullae.


Studies in Iranian Philology

Barbera, Gerardo, Matteo De Chiara, Alessandro Del Tomba, Bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā, Federico Dragoni & Paola Orsatti (eds.). 2024. Siddham. Studies in Iranian philology in honour of Mauro Maggi. Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag.

This volume is a tribute to Mauro Maggi, celebrating his distinguished career and significant contributions in the fields of Iranian, Indo-Aryan, and Central Asian philology and linguistics. It features a diverse collection of papers presented by colleagues, former students, and friends, reflecting the broad spectrum of Mauro Maggi’s research interests. This collection not only honours Mauro Maggi’s extensive scholarly contributions but also serves as a valuable resource for researchers in Iranian, Indo-Aryan, and Central Asian studies. It will be of interest and value to scholars of Iranian philology and linguistics, as well as those in Indo-European linguistics, Central Asian philology, and Buddhist literature. Through this comprehensive tribute, the volume underscores the lasting impact of Mauro Maggi’s work and his enduring legacy in the field.


Transversal Studies on the Reigns of Yazdgird I and Wahrām V

Jullien, Christelle (ed.). 2023. Discourse, power issues, and images. Transversal studies on the reigns of Yazdgird I and Wahrām V (Late Antique History and Religion). Leuven: Peeters.

What images of Yazdgird I (399-420) and Wahrām V (420-438) have been transmitted in the sources from and outside the Persian empire? Those nearly forty years saw a rich and complex relationship develop between Persia and its neighbours, paving the way for the Sasanians to extend their influence beyond the borders. At the beginning of the fifth century, while exchanges and relations of subordination were being reconfigured in the Middle East, the religious communities of the Sasanian empire (Babylonian Jewry, diverse Christian communities, Manichaeans, etc.) created the conditions for a new relationship with power. These two great sovereigns were emblematic and inspired contrasting portrayals – either controversial or idealised – that integrate narrative models sometimes borrowed from other cultures. A major aim of this book is to bring together the up-to-date knowledge about this topic through a comprehensive enquiry and comparison of contemporaneous and later materials.

Table of Contents

  • Geoffrey Greatrex and George Amanatidis-Saadé: “Les relations romano-perses sous Yazdgird Ier et Wahrām V”
  • Giusto Traina: “Yazdgird I, Wahrām V, and the End of Greater Armenia: A Note on the Armenian Sources”
  • Rika Gyselen: “Entre tradition et innovation : temoignages materiels de l’epoque de Yazdgird Ier et de Wahrām V”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “The Two Kings of Erānsahr: Yazdgird I ‘The Sinner’ and Wahrām V ‘The Onager’ in the Xwadāy-nāmag Tradition”
  • Geoffrey Herman: “Tue Jews of Babylonia during the Reigns of Kings Yazdgird I and Wahrām V”
  • Scott McDonough: “A Tale of Two Isaacs: Christians and the Crown in Fifth Century Erānsahr”
  • Christelle Jullien: “Les affaires de pyrees sous Yazdgird I. Motif hagiographique et modèles littéraires”
  • Marie-Joseph Pierre and Chiemi Nakano: “Le synode de 410, avant et apres”
  • Philip Wood: “Rewriting History: Yazdgird I, Wahrām V and the Chronicle of Seert

Architecture and Archaeology of the Achaemenid Empire

Dan, Roberto. 2023. Studies on the architecture and archaeology of the Achaemenid Empire. Dynamics of interaction and transmission between centre and periphery. Roma: ISMEO – The International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies.

The relations between the centre and periphery of the Achaemenid Empire have been, for several years, the focus of numerous in-depth studies. The characteristics of this World Empire, which was a new phenomenon in the ancient Near East, have stimulated this scholarly research, based on written sources, as well as archaeological and cultural evidence. Quite often, the goal of these studies was to assess the impact of the empire’s core? A concept whose cultural outline warrants precise definition?within the regions under its control. For several decades, the basic question on the matter put forward by Roger Moorey (Cemeteries of the First Millennium B.C. at Deve Höyük, 1980: 128), who challenged the significance of the material traces of Persian domination (considered too flimsy), was echoed by many historians, who indeed have asked whether there “ever was a Persian empire.” That question was raised by Amélie Kuhrt and Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg in the introduction of a book whose title was, relevantly, Centre and Periphery (Achaemenid History, IV, 1990).


Apocalyptic Eschatology and Empire in Sasanian Iran

Canepa, Matthew P. 2024. Envisioning dualism and emplacing the Eschaton: Apocalyptic eschatology and empire in Sasanian Iran. In Jörg Rüpke, Michal Biran & Yuri Pines (eds.), Empires and Gods: The Role of Religions in Imperial History (Imperial Histories: Eurasian Empires Compared), vol. 1, 135–174. Berlin: De Gruyter.

The Sasanian Empire (224–642 CE) was the last great Iranian empire to rule overWestern Asia before the coming of Islam. The empire was founded when Ardaxšīr I (r. 224 – ca. 242), a local ruler of Pārs and vassal to the Parthian king of kings, revolted from his overlord, Ardawān IV, defeating and killing him in the Battleof Hormozgān. Ending five centuries of Arsacid rule, Ardaxšīr I quickly took control of the Iranian plateau and Mesopotamia, expanding the empire and soon bringing him into conflict with the Romans. His son and successor Šābuhr I (r. 242–272) expanded the empire eastward into Northern India at the expense of the Kushan Empire and westward into Roman territory, raiding several importantRoman cities and deporting their inhabitants, including those of Antioch. By the late-sixth century CE the Sasanians had forged a centralized empire from theParthian Empire’s heterogenous network of crown lands, client kingdoms, semi-autonomous city-states, and aristocratic estates. Despite setbacks, the new powerful empire succeeded in contending with and often defeating the economic and military might of the Roman Empire, while resisting the military pressures of the steppe, and harnessing the economic forces of Eurasian trade. With mercantile networks that extended from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea, the Empire of the Iranians exercised power over Mesopotamia, Iran, portions of the Caucasus,South and Central Asia, and briefly Egypt, Anatolia and even to the walls of Constantinople during the empire’s final apogee under Husraw II (r. 590–628). Over the course of late antiquity, Sasanian art, architecture, and court culture created a new dominant global aristocratic common culture in western Eurasia, beguiling theirRoman, South Asian, and Chinese contemporaries, and deeply imprinted the later Islamic world.

This chapter is available as an open access publication.

Central Asia 300-850

La Vaissière, Etienne de. 2024. Asie centrale 300-850: des routes et des royaumes. Paris: Belles lettres.

Central Asia forms the heart of medieval Eurasian trade, what is known, not entirely incorrectly, as the “Silk Road”. Caravans and conquerors, monks and artists all passed through Samarcand, Dunhuang or Bactria on their way from China to Byzantium or from Iran and India to the steppes. This was the era of the first globalisation, a thousand years before European expansion. But this history is in tatters, and at the height of these contacts, from the Huns’ raid in the fourth century AD to the end of the Tibetan empire and Islamisation in the ninth century, no work in any language had ever attempted to follow all the threads and patiently reweave the patterns.

Nomadic migrations and Buddhist art, great trade and the organisation of the State, Chinese colonisation and the Arab conquest, the history of climate, irrigation and demography, the birth of Persian and archaic globalisation, and many other themes: this summary offers a wide range of themes which it crosses and weaves into a complex but clear fabric. Using a wealth of maps and illustrations, it reconstructs a huge missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle of medieval Old World history. It is the product of twenty years of research, and draws on the most recent work, including scholarly studies of Arabic, Chinese, Iranian and Turkish texts, new discoveries of manuscripts and the results of the many archaeological excavations that have been carried out since the end of the USSR and the opening up of China’s economy. All the disciplines and tools of the historian are called upon to make this world intelligible and legible, while at the end, behind the scenes, another level of analysis is offered for those who, like the great merchants and pilgrim monks, would like to go further.


An Introduction to Young Avestan: A Manual for Teaching and Learning

Cantera, Alberto & Céline Redard. 2024. An introduction to Young Avestan: A manual for teaching and learning. (Trans.) Richard Tahmaseb Niroumand. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Avestan is the sacred language of the Zoroastrians in which they perform most of their rituals. It is known only from its use in the rituals of modern Zoroastrians and the manuscripts reproducing these rituals since the 13th century. Although sure dates cannot be provided, it is very likely that the creation of the liturgical corpus extended from the end of the 2nd millennium BCE until the end of the Achaemenid period (4th cent. BCE). This corpus includes texts in at least three linguistic layers (Old, Middle and Young Avestan). The present manual aims to provide a tool for facilitating the teaching of Young Avestan but keeps in mind also the possibility of self-learning since Avestan is not well-represented in the actual academic landscape. It includes a progressive presentation of the complex phonetic evolutions that are very characteristic of the Avestan language as a consequence of the evolution of the recitation until its fixation (6th cent. CE) and also of the Avestan grammar, complemented with exercises including samples of original texts of increasing difficulty. In each lesson, one text is reproduced in a manuscript, introducing the students to the direct work with manuscripts.