All posts by Shervin Farridnejad

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.

The Last Empire of Iran

Bonner, Michael Richard Jackson. 2020. The Last Empire of Iran (Gorgias Handbooks). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press LLC.

As part of the Gorgias Handbook Series, this book provides a political and military history of the Sasanian Empire in Late Antiquity (220s to 651 CE). The book takes the form of a narrative, which situates Sasanian Iran as a continental power between Rome and the world of the steppe nomad.

Continue reading The Last Empire of Iran

Xenophon’s Cyropaedia

Jacobs, Bruno & Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2019. Ancient Information on Persia Re-assessed: Xenophon’s Cyropaedia. Proceedings of a Conference Held at Marburg in Honour of Christopher Tuplin, December 1-2, 2017. (Classica et Orientalia 22). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

In the past Xenophon’s Cyropaedia has attracted the attention of scholars primarily for literary-historical reasons. It is one of the main tasks of the present publication to free discussion of the work from this relatively narrow disciplinary constraint.
As questions of genre cannot be ignored anyway, the volume opens with contributions that consider where Cyropaedia stands in relation to historiography, the novel and Socratic literature. The next group of studies deals with how Xenophon drew on material from other authors and from his own experience to develop a picture of the emergence of the Persian Empire and of the way in which power was exercised there. Investigations of this sort presuppose questions about the historië that underpins Cyropaedia, and that topic is the focus of two further contributions that deal specifically with the types of information that were available to Xenophon. A final group of contributions looks at the impact of the work in canonical and deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, in the writings of the Alexander historians and in modern literature up to the 18th century.

Persian Lyric Poetry

Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). 2019. Persian lyric poetry in the classical era, 800-1500: Ghazals, panegyrics and quatrains (A History of Persian Literature 2). London: I.B. Tauris.

The second volume in this series presents the reader with an extensive study of some major genres of Persian poetry from the first centuries after the rise of Islam to the end of the Timurid era and the inauguration of Safavid rule in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The authors explore the development of poetic genres, from the panegyric (qaside), to short lyrical poems (ghazal), and the quatrains (roba’i), tracing the stylistic evolution of Persian poetry up to 1500 and examine the vital role of these poetic forms within the rich landscape of Persian literature.

A History of Persian Literature is a 20-volume authoritative survey reflects the stature and significance of Persian literature as the single most important accomplishment of the Iranian experience. It includes extensive, revealing examples with contributions by prominent scholars who bring a fresh critical approach to bear on this important topic.

A New Approach to the uštauuaitī Gāϑā

Kellens, Jean. 2019. Lecture sceptique et aventureuse de la Gâthâ uštauuaitī (Études Avestiques et Mazdéennes 6). Paris: de Boccard.

On the subject of this booklet, I ended my contribution to the Wiley Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism, published in 2015, but written in 2011, by expressing my conviction that the time had come to imagine new methods of approaching the Gâthâs and I have indeed tried it in my 2011-2012 (Kellens 2013a) and 2012-2013 (Kellens 2014a) course on the Gâthâ ahunauuaitī. I am trying to continue the experience with uštauuaitī (Yasna 43-46).

Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan (AMIT): Vol. 48

Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan (AMIT): Vol. 48, 2016 [2019], ed. by German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Tehran Branch of the Eurasia Department

The AMIT is the only German journal for archaeology and history of the Iranian-Middle Asian region; prehistory and early history, archaeology, history and art history of the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian empires as well as the Islamic Middle Ages in Iran and Turan and neighbouring regions. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.

See here the Table of Content of vol. 48.

Central Asian Textile Images

Gasparini, Mariachiara. 2019. Transcending patterns: Silk road cultural and artistic interactions through Central Asian textile images (Perspectives on the Global Past). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

In Transcending Patterns: Silk Road Cultural and Artistic Interactions through Central Asian Textiles, Mariachiara Gasparini investigates the origin and effects of a textile-mediated visual culture that developed at the heart of the Silk Road between the seventh and fourteenth centuries. Through the analysis of the Turfan Textile Collection in the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin and more than a thousand textiles held in collections worldwide, Gasparini discloses and reconstructs the rich cultural entanglements along the Silk Road, between the coming of Islam and the rise of the Mongol Empire, from the Tarim to Mediterranean Basin. Exploring in detail the iconographic transfer between different agents and different media from Central Asian caves to South Italian churches, the author depicts and describes the movement and exchange of portable objects such as sculpture, wall painting, and silk fragments across the Asian continent and across the ages.

Mariachiara Garsparini received a PhD in transcultural studies and global art history from Heidelberg University, Germany. Her research focuses on Central Asian material culture, wall painting, artist’s praxis, and Sino-Iranian and Turko-Mongol interactions. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Asia. Since 2015 she has been teaching Asian art in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Between Boston and Bombay

Rose, Jenny. 2019. Between Boston and Bombay: Cultural and Commercial encounters of Yankees and Parsis, 1771–1865. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

A few years after the American declaration of independence, the first American ships set sail to India. The commercial links that American merchant mariners established with the Parsis of Bombay contributed significantly to the material and intellectual culture of the early Republic in ways that have not been explored until now. This book maps the circulation of goods, capital and ideas between Bombay Parsis and their contemporaries in the northeastern United States, uncovering a surprising range of cultural interaction. Just as goods and gifts from the Zoroastrians of India quickly became an integral part of popular culture along the eastern seaboard of the U.S., so their newly translated religious texts had a considerable impact on American thought. Using a wealth of previously unpublished primary sources, this work presents the narrative of American-Parsi encounters within the broader context of developing global trade and knowledge.

Table of Contents

  • Arrivals: Parsis, Pilgrims and Puritans
  • “A Nice Morality” (1771–1798)
  • A Shawl Handkerchief and a Cabinet of Curiosities (1799–1806)
  • Merchant Princes, Missionaries and a Man-of-War (1807–1815)
  • A Passage to and from India (1816–1835)

Three Zoroastrian Pahlavi Texts

Kolesnikov, Aliy Ivanovich. 2019. The holy books of Zoroastrianism: Transliteration, transcription, commentary and translation of three Pahlavi texts (Classics of Russian Oriental Studies). St. Petersburg: Nauka.

This volume includes a commentary and translation of three Middle Persian texts. The first is the Fifth book of Dēnkard, part of a compendium of Zoroastrian religious knowledge from the Sassanian Iran, compiled in the IX-X centuries according to the earlier sources. The Book V contains a short account of human history up to the time of Zoroaster. The second text is a fragment from the Fourth Book of Dēnkard, which sets out the history of the preservation of Zoroastrian liturgical books in ancient Iran under the auspices role of the Persian kings in the defense of Zoroastrianism, beginning with Darius III (336-31 BCE) and ending with Xosrō I (590-628 CE). The third text is called Ardā Wirāz-Nāmag “the Book of the Righteous Wirāz”, compiled at the early Islamic time, dating back to the Sasanian era. The translation of this literary monument into Russian is accompanied by extensive commentaries.

In Original:

Колесниковым, Алий Иванович. 2019. Священные книги зороастризма. Транслитерация, транскрипция, комментированный перевод трех пехлевийских текстов (Классика отечественного востоковедения). СПб.: Наука.

Sasanian Elements in Byzantine, Caucasian and Islamic Art and Culture

Asutay-Effenberger, Neslihan & Falko Daim (eds.). 2019. Sasanidische Spuren in der byzantinischen, kaukasischen und islamischen Kunst und Kultur | Sasanian Elements in Byzantine, Caucasian and Islamic Art and Culture (Römisch Germanisches Zentralmuseum 15). Bonn: Verlag Schnell & Steiner.

The Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD) spreads over areas of today’s Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Caucasus regions were also under its political influence. Many elements of Sasanian art and culture can be found in neighboring countries and cultures, such as Byzantium or the Christian Caucasus, and continued to live after the Sasanian fall in the Islamic dominions that developed on their former territory. To examine the continuing role and the survival of Sasanian art after the fall of the last Persian Empire, an international conference was held in September 2017 at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum in Mainz. The contributions of scholars from different disciplines are published in this volume.