Balatti, Silvia, Hilmar Klinkott, Josef Wiesehöfer (eds.). 2021. Paleopersepolis: Environment, Landscape and Society in Ancient Fars (Oriens et Occidens, 33). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Pārsa, approximately corresponding to the modern-day Iranian province of Fars, can reasonably be considered to occupy a prominent place in the history of Ancient Iran. Indeed, it was the heartland of the Persian empires of the Teispids, Achaemenids and Sasanians. The spectacular archaeological remains of Fars are well known – we need only think, for example, of the monumental remains of Persepolis. Much less is known about life outside of the royal palaces and about human-environment interactions in this region. In recent decades, a new interest in socio-environmental issues in the humanities, the use of innovative scientific methods in archaeology, and the rapid expansion of the field of paleoenvironmental studies have vastly increased the potential for investigating this topic from an interdisciplinary perspective. The contributions to this volume are the result of a scholarly effort to investigate the landscape and society of ancient Fars using an integrative approach, which benefits from the contributions from the humanities and the natural and technological sciences.


The Greco-Persian Wars

Jensen, Erik. 2021. The Greco-Persian Wars: A Short History with Documents. Cambridge: Hackett Publishing.

Hackett’s Passages: Key Moments in History series titles include original-source documents in accessible editions, intended for the student-user or general audience. This edition, The Greco-Persian Wars, taps our knowledge of the Persian Empire and its interactions with the Greek world. The sources examined were created in different times and places, for different purposes, and with different intended audiences. Using these sources effectively requires recognizing their distinct characteristics. A general introduction about the Greco-Persian wars is included to provide historical background and an overview of the information contained in the original-source documents. Also included are a glossary of terms, a chronology, insightful headnotes to each document, and an index.


Semiramis: From Antiquity to the Modern Times

Droß-Krüpe, Kerstin. 2020. Semiramis, de qua innumerabilia narrantur: Rezeption und Verargumentierung der Königin von Babylon von der Antike bis in die opera seria des Barock (Classica et Orientalia, 25). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Semiramis, die legendäre Königin von Babylon, gehörte bis in das 20. Jahrhundert hinein zu den bekanntesten und am stärksten rezipierten Gestalten der antiken Welt. Als Frau, die von Babylon aus das Großreich der Assyrer regierte und erfolgreiche Eroberungskriege führte, wurde sie in einer Vielzahl antiker Quellentexte teils mit Bewunderung, teils mit tiefer Abscheu beschrieben. Schnell avancierte sie so zum Paradigma – einerseits für das weibliche Geschlecht, andererseits für die Ausübung von Macht, aber auch für den antiken ‚Orient‘ im Allgemeinen. Semiramis findet sich in der Folge in nahezu allen Literatur- und Kunstgattungen der Spätantike, des Mittelalters, der Renaissance und der Frühen Neuzeit und erhielt so einen festen Platz im kulturellen Gedächtnis der westlichen Welt. An ihr wurden über die Epochen hinweg Weiblichkeit und Herrschaft miteinander verknüpft, Transgressionen von weiblichen Handlungsräumen thematisiert, Geschlechterordnungen und Geschlechternormen verhandelt und Handlungsspielräume für das weibliche Geschlecht reflektiert.

Kerstin Droß-Krüpe folgt den Spuren der Semiramis durch die Jahrhunderte – von der griechischen Historiographie des 5. Jahrhunderts v.Chr. bis auf die Opernbühnen des Barock. Sie kombiniert so eine historisch-kritische Aufarbeitung des in den antiken Quellentexten präsentierten Semiramisbildes mit der späteren Wahrnehmung, Aneignung und Verargumentierung der Semiramis als Figur der Erinnerung.

For the table of contents, click here.


Iran 59 (1)

Volume 59, issue 1 of Iran, Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies is out. Here is the table of contents:

  • Michael Roaf & Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis: Professor David B. Stronach, OBE 1931–2020
  • Kyle G. Olson & Christopher P. Thornton: Tureng Tepe, a Bronze Age Centre in Northeastern Iran Revisited
  • Sepideh Maziar & Ali Zalaghi: Exploring Beyond the River and Inside the Valleys: Settlement Development and Cultural Landscape of the Araxes River Basin Through Time
  • Sheler Amelirad & Eghbal Azizi: Kani Koter, Iron Age Cemetery From Iranian Kurdistan
  • Yaghoub Mohamadifar, Esmail Hemati Azandaryani, Alireza Dailar, Somayeh Hasanlou & Javad Babapiri: Parthian Burials in the Hamedan City, Western Iran
  • Mitra Panahipour: Land Use and Environment in a Zone of Uncertainty: A Case of the Sasanian Expansion in Eastern Iraq – Western Iran
  • Amir-Hossein Karimy & Parviz Holakooei: Looking Like Silver: Mica as a Pigment in Mid-Seventeenth Century Persian Wall Decorations
  • Massoumeh (Nahid) Assemi: The Panel of Dervishes at the Tekkiyeh Moʿaven al-Molk in Kermanshah (Figure 1)
  • Mojtaba Ebrahimian: Vaqaye‘-e Ettefaqiyeh (1851–1861) and the Education of the Iranian Nation in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century

Early Arsakid Parthia (ca. 250-165 B.C.)

Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2021. Early Arsakid Parthia (ca. 250-165 B.C.): At the crossroads of Iranian, Hellenistic, and Central Asian history (Mnemosyne, Supplements 4040). Leiden: Brill.

In his new monograph Early Arsakid Parthia (ca. 250-165 B.C.): At the Crossroads of Iranian, Hellenistic, and Central Asian History, Marek Jan Olbrycht explores the early history of the Arsakid Parthian state. Making use of literary and epigraphic evidence as well numismatic and archaeological sources, Olbrycht convincingly depicts how the Arsakid dynasty created a kingdom (248 B.C.-A.D. 226), small at first, which, within a century after its founding, came to dominate the Iranian Plateau and portions of Central Asia as well as Mesopotamia. The “Parthian genius” lay in the Arsakids’ ability to have blended their steppe legacy with that of sedentary Iranians, and to have absorbed post-Achaemenid Iranian and Seleukid socio-economic, political, and cultural traditions.


The Parthians: The Forgotten Empire

Ellerbrock, Uwe. 2021. The Parthians: The forgotten empire. London & New York: Routledge.

This volume provides a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of the Parthian Empire, which existed for almost 500 years from 247 BC to 224 AD.

The Parthians were Rome’s great opponents in the east, but comparatively little is known about them. The Parthians focuses on the rise, expansion, flowering and decline of the Parthian Empire and covers both the wars with the Romans in the west and the nomads in the east. Sources include the small amount from the Empire itself, as well as those from outside the Parthian world, such as Greek, Roman and Chinese documents. Ellerbrock also explores the Parthian military, social history, religions, art, architecture and numismatics, all supported by a great number of images and maps.

The Parthians is an invaluable resource for those studying the Ancient Near East during the period of the Parthian Empire, as well as for more general readers interested in this era.

Table of Contents:


Études offertes à Pierre Briant

Agut-Labordère, Damien, Rémy Boucharlat, Francis Joannès, Amélie Kuhrt & Matthew W. Stolper (éds). 2021. Achemenet. Vingt ans après: Études offertes à Pierre Briant à l’occasion des vingt ans du Programme Achemenet (Persika 21). Leuven: Peeters.

En créant le programme international Achemenet en 2000, l’année où il inaugurait la chaire «Histoire et civilisation du monde achéménide et de l’empire d’Alexandre» au Collège de France, Pierre Briant avait pour objectif de rassembler les données primaires sur l’Empire perse achéménide à travers les territoires immenses qu’il a couverts en Orient. Vingt ans après, le site met à la disposition des spécialistes, des étudiants et du grand public une dizaine de milliers de textes, des données archéologiques et près de cent mille images d’objets conservés dans une vingtaine de musées du monde entier.

À ces vastes corpus documentaires sont venues s’ajouter la collection Persika, en 2001, dont ce volume porte le numéro 21, et une revue en ligne, ARTA (Achaemenid Research on Texts and Archaeology), seul périodique consacré aux études achéménides.

Les auteurs de cet ouvrage célèbrent les vingt ans d’Achemenet et rendent, du même coup, hommage à son fondateur. Tous sont des spécialistes dans différents domaines des recherches achéménides et leurs contributions illustrent l’immensité géographique de cet empire-monde et la diversité des disciplines que requiert son étude.

For the table of contents, see here.


Achaemenid Echoes in the Wall Paintings of Akchakhan-Kala

Minardi, Michele. 2020. Achaemenid Echoes in the Wall Paintings of Akchakhan-Kala, Chorasmia, and their Broader Significance for Central Asia. Journal of Asian Civilizations 43(2).

(from Minardi 2020, fig. 5.)

In recent years the Karakalpak-Australian Expedition (KAE) carried out archaeological fieldwork at the royal Chorasmian seat of Akchakhan-kala unearthing a large corpus of wall paintings. This imagery was made during Stage 3 of the life of the site’s main complex, beginning between the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD and ending in the early 2nd century AD. Among the formal elements employed in this imagery, an unanticipated use of Achaemenid iconographic models is apparent. Most of these archetypes have already been introduced in recently published articles. However, the question regarding their source and ways of transmission was left open to further inquiry. This paper aims to refine the argument and to give way to further analysis and discussion in attempting a clarification of what has already been sustained. Eastern Iranian Chorasmia once was under the Achaemenid sway, and its very foundation as a polity was quite probably due to an intervention of the Persians. But the Akchakhan-kala’s paintings were produced much later than the time of the Achaemenid Empire’s demise. What we may therefore be witnessing is the persistence of Achaemenid iconography as an artistic legacy, the origins of which would be reasonable to track in a centre of the “Upper Satrapies”. Despite the scarcity of available evidence on the very existence of an Achaemenid aulic art and heritage in the East, it is here argued that it might be possible to consider the new Chorasmian evidence as its “echo”, although the chronology of the original transmission into the polity of such a legacy is still elusive. This paper will also introduce a further, and previously neglected, element issuing from the Akchakhan-kala’s mural art and belonging to the set of Achaemenid visual “echoes”: the motif of the stylized lion’s heads with curled mane. Of clear Achaemenid ascendency, this motif decorates the shoulder area of the kandys worn by one of the colossal Avestan deities from the site’s columned throne hall. This painted fabric decoration confirms the substantiality of the basic interpretation of the “Achaemenid echoes” coming from Chorasmia, allowing at the same time to development of some further assumptions.


Power and Politics in the Neo-Elamite Kingdom

Gorris, Elynn. 2020. Power and Politics in the Neo-Elamite Kingdom (Acta Iranica, 60). Leuven: Peeters.

Power and Politics in the Neo-Elamite Kingdom (c. 1100-520 BC) documents one of the most obscure episodes in the political history of ancient southwestern Iran. Elam’s strategic position between the Mesopotamian alluvial plain, the Persian Gulf and the Iranian highlands made it a target for territorial expansion of the Neo-Assyrian empire. However, the ability of the Neo-Elamite kings to engage in a political alliance with the Neo-Babylonian kingdom, the flexibility of the Neo-Elamite government system and the dynamics between the various ethnic and social groups living within the multiple valleys of Elam protected the Elamite heartland for centuries against the continuous military threat. Elam became an indisputable partner in an inter-regional network of Mesopotamian states until the emergence of the Persian empire reshaped the political landscape of the Ancient Near East.

By re-evaluating the dynastic lineage of Neo-Elamite kings, the geopolitical power of the Neo-Elamite kingdom and the (trans-)formation the Elamite government system in the 1st millennium BC through written and archaeological evidence, this book aims to improve our understanding of the last centuries of Elam.


Weather and the Greek–Persian “Naval Battle of Salamis”

Zerefos, Christos, Stavros Solomos, Dimitris Melas, John Kapsomenakis and Christos Repapis. 2020. The Role of Weather during the Greek–Persian “Naval Battle of Salamis” in 480 B.C. Atmosphere 11, 838.

The Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. is one of the most important naval battles of all times. This work examines in detail the climatically prevailing weather conditions during the Persian invasion in Greece. We perform a climatological analysis of the wind regime in the narrow straits of Salamis, where this historic battle took place, based on available station measurements, reanalysis and modeling simulations (ERA5, WRF) spanning through the period of 1960–2019. Our results are compared to ancient sources before and during the course of the conflict and can be summarized as follows: (i) Our climatological station measurements and model runs describing the prevailing winds in the area of interest are consistent with the eyewitness descriptions reported by ancient historians and (ii) The ancient Greeks and particularly Themistocles must have been aware of the local wind climatology since their strategic plan was carefully designed and implemented to take advantage of the diurnal wind variation. The combination of northwest wind during the night and early morning, converging with a south sea breeze after 10:00 A.M., formed a “pincer” that aided the Greeks at the beginning of the clash in the morning, while it brought turmoil to the Persian fleet and prevented them to escape to the open sea in the early afternoon hours. View Full-Text.