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Articles

Medes in the desert

Potts, Daniel. 2021. Medes in the desert: Thoughts on the mounted archer near Taymā’. In: Claudia Bührig et al. (eds.), Klänge der Archäologie: Festschrift für Ricardo Eichmann, 335-342. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Detail of petroglyph of equestrian figure near Tayma’

The equestrian figure engraved on a rock outcrop near Taymā’ is analyzed. Details of the horse and rider are discussed which support the identification of the horse as an Assyrianizing image, and the rider as a Mede. The significance of the image is treated in light of the tradition of rapid overland communication in the Achaemenid empire.

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Books

Iranian names in Nebenüberlieferungen of Indo-European languages

Martirosyan, Hrach. 2021. Iranische Namen in Nebenüberlieferungen Indogermanischer Sprachen (Iranisches Personennamenbuch, 5. 3). Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

The Iranian element is the largest layer of the Armenian borrowed lexicon. It comprises a period of more than 2.500 years starting from pre-Achaemenid times up to the modern period. Also the number of Armenian personal names of Iranian origin is quite large, roughly estimated one quarter of all Armenian personal names. The Armenian evidence is of vital importance for completing the Iranian onomasticon. In many cases, Middle Persian and Parthian namesakes of Armenian personal names are not directly attested. Besides, Armenian helps to determine the exact shape of Iranian names. The present fascicle of the “Iranisches Personennamenbuch” aims to collect and etymologically interpret all the Iranian personal names, which are attested in Armenian texts up to 1300 CE. Occasionally, it also comprises names that are attested at a later stage but are likely to belong to earlier periods, as well as younger forms that are related with older names and are therefore relevant for the philological or etymological discussion of the latter. The volume comprises 872 entries and includes (1) names of Iranian people of various kinds (kings, queens, princes, generals, etc.) that occur in Armenian texts, and (2) names of Iranian origin that were/are borne by Armenian people. It includes a huge range of new etymologies or corrected versions of pre-existing etymologies, as well as new names and corrected forms of names discovered in critical texts and voluminous corpora of inscriptions and colophons of Armenian manuscripts that have not been available for earlier researchers of the Armenian onomastics.

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Books

William Barker, Xenophon’s ‘Cyropædia’

Grogan, Jane (ed.). 2020. William Barker, Xenophon’s ‘Cyropædia’ (Tudor and Stuart Translation 13). Cambridge: Modern Humanities Research Association.

William Barker’s translation of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia is the first substantial translation from Greek directly to English in Tudor England. It presents to its English readers an extraordinarily important text for humanists across Europe: a semi-fictional biography of the ancient Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great, so generically rich that it became (in England as well as Europe) a popular authority and model in the very different fields of educational, political and literary theory, as well as in literature by Sidney, Spenser and others.

This edition, for the first time, identifies its translator as a hitherto overlooked figure from the circle of Sir John Cheke at St John’s College, Cambridge, locus of an important and influential revival of Greek scholarship. A prolific translator from Greek and Italian, Barker was a Catholic, and spent most of his career working as secretary to Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk. What little notoriety he eventually gained was as the ‘Italianified Englishman’ who told of Howard’s involvement in the Ridolfi plot. But even here, this edition shows, Barker’s intellectual patronage by Cheke and friends, and their enduring support of him, his translations and the Chekeian agenda, can be discerned.

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Articles

The Greeks and Persia

Stronk, Jan P. 2020. The Greeks and Persia. Talanta 52, 71-87.

Plain of Marathon, with some key features (source: Google Earth).

The abstract:

Lack of data has always been one of the main issues in studying antiquity, a theme that on the one hand distinguishes students of antiquity from other scholars, but on the other hand, ideally, should ensure a bond between ‘Altertumswissenschaftler’ all over the world. Nevertheless, there have risen several divisions in this field of scholarship, especially influenced by nineteenth-century authors. Apart from that, there is at present a shocking gap between scholarship and the greater public (and, consequently, public awareness of the relevance of scholarly activities). At present, new roads have been opened in the past twenty to thirty years that may enable us to find new possibilities for research, and might help us to bridge existing differences. The title of my paper is based upon that of the book by A.R.Burn (1962). Like he did, I shall try to make clear what connects – in my case – ancient Greek authors and Persian history.

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Journal

Persica Antiqua

The first issue of Persica Antiqua: The International Journal of Iranian Studies is released. The papers are freely at disposal on the journal’s website.

Persica Antiqua is the official journal of Tissaphernes Archaeological Research Group. Persica Antiqua is an international, peer reviewed journal, publishing high-quality, original research. The journal covers studies on the cultural and civilization of pre-Islamic Persia in its broadest sense. Persica Antiqua publishes on Persian Studies, including archaeology, ancient history, linguistics, religion, epigraphy, numismatics and history of art of ancient Iran, as well as on cultural exchanges and relations between Iran and its neighbours.

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Books

Der ‚reiche Orient‘: Imagination und Faszination

Thomas, Louisa. 2021. Der ‚reiche Orient‘: Imagination und Faszination. Darstellungen des asiatischen Wohlstandes in griechischen Quellen des 5. und 4. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (Classica et Orientalia, 2). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Noch heute dominiert in Europa ein sehr einseitiges und mit Klischees des ‚Andersseins‘ behaftetes Bild des Nahen Ostens. Besonders manifestiert sich dieses in Literatur, Kunst und Film, doch auch auf politischer und gesellschaftlicher Ebene ist es von festgefahrenen Erwartungen geprägt. Die Ursprünge dieser Erwartungen sind besonders in der griechischen Historiographie des 5. und 4. Jahrhunderts v.Chr. anzusiedeln, einer Zeit, die durch die sogenannten Perserkriege sowie den Asienfeldzug Alexanders III. von Makedonien (des Großen) in besonderem Maße von Auseinandersetzungen zwischen der griechischen Welt und dem persischen Großreich geprägt war.

Die Autorin widmet sich vor allem einer der zahllosen stereotypen Erwartungen an die Reiche des Alten Orients und deren Herrschern: der Vorstellung des Wohlstands und der Opulenz. In diesem Zusammenhang gilt ihr besonderes Augenmerk der mit verschiedenen Topoi versehenen Darstellung des ‚orientalischen Reichtums‘ in den Quellen. Dabei arbeitet sie heraus, inwiefern die griechische Historiographie sich den ‚Orient‘ im Zuge eines hellenischen bzw. athenischen Reichtums- und Luxusdiskurses zu Nutze machte, wie sie das Stereotyp des ‚orientalischen Wohlstandes‘ wirkmächtig propagierte und schließlich sogar als Aufforderung zum Beutekrieg nutzbar machte.

For the ToC, see here.

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Books

Taxation in the Achaemenid Empire

Kleber, Kristin (ed.). 20201. Taxation in the Achaemenid Empire (Classica et Orientalia, 26). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Achaemenid Studies fall between the academic divisions of Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Archeology, Ancient History, Classical Philology, Egyptology and Semitic Languages. No single scholar can cover the many cultures that were united under the umbrella of this huge empire alone and in-depth. Interdisciplinary approaches are a necessity in order to tackle the challenges that the diverse textual records in Akkadian, Demotic Egyptian, Elamite, Aramaic and Greek present us with.

This volume, the proceedings of a conference on taxation and fiscal administration in the Achaemenid Empire held in Amsterdam in 2018, contains contributions on Babylonia, Egypt, the Levant, Asia Minor and Arachosia, written by specialists in the respective languages and cultures. The question that lies at the basis of this volume is how the empire collected revenue from the satrapies, whether and how local institutions were harnessed to make imperial rule successful. The contributions investigate what kind of taxes were imposed in what area and how tax collection was organized and administered. Since we lack imperial state archives, local records are the more important, as they are our only reliable source that allows us to move beyond the famous but unverifiable statement on Achaemenid state finances in Herodotus, Histories 3, 89–97.

For table of contents, see here.

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Journal

Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History (vol. 8)

Volume 8 of Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History (2021) is just published. This is a special issue entitled “Scholars, Priests, and Temples: Babylonian and Egyptian Science in Context.” It consists a handful of papers falling in the scope of ancient Iran.

These papers are:

  • Philippe Clancier, Damien Agut: Charming Snakes (and Kings), from Egypt to Persia
  • Johannes Hackl, Joachim Oelsner: The Descendants of the Sîn-lēqi-unnīnī during the Late Achaemenid and Early Hellenistic Periods – A Family of Priests, Scribes and Scholars and Their Archival and Learned Texts
  • Caroline Waerzeggers: Writing History Under Empire: The Babylonian Chronicle Reconsidered

The last paper is open access.

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Books

The City of Babylon

Dalley, Stephanie. 2021. The City of Babylon: A History, c. 2000 BC – AD 116. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The 2000-year story of Babylon sees it moving from a city-state to the centre of a great empire of the ancient world. It remained a centre of kingship under the empires of Assyria, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids and the Parthians. Its city walls were declared to be a Wonder of the World while its ziggurat won fame as the Tower of Babel. Visitors to Berlin can admire its Ishtar Gate, and the supposed location of its elusive Hanging Garden is explained. Worship of its patron god Marduk spread widely while its well-trained scholars communicated legal, administrative and literary works throughout the ancient world, some of which provide a backdrop to Old Testament and Hittite texts. Its science also laid the foundations for Greek and Arab astronomy through a millennium of continuous astronomical observations. This accessible and up-to-date account is by one of the world’s leading authorities.

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Articles

Achaemenid Royal Road in Anatolia

Sadeghipour, Mahnaz & and Farshid Iravani Ghadimi. 2020. An Archaeological Approach to Delineate the Course of the Achaemenid Royal Road in Anatolia. Anatolica 46, 67-101.

The Achaemenid Royal Road was one of the crucial aspects of the Achaemenid imperial governance through which the affairs of this great empire were carried out. This major thoroughfare which on account of Herodotus’ reference extended from Sardis to Susa, was only one component of a more extended route network and allowed the Achaemenids to access and control conquered cities. Anatolia by the greatest number of the satrapies has played an important role in the center of this dominion. So far, determination of the actual course of the ‘Royal Road’ has been subject to much discussion due to ambiguities and discrepancies of historical explanations. Moreover, there has been little focus for archaeological research about the course of the ‘Royal Road’ in Anatolia. The purpose of this article is to reappraise and delineate the course of the ‘Royal Road’ in Anatolia during 550-330 BC concentrating mainly on the archaeological sites. To introduce a model for designating this road, the approach assumes that successive Achaemenid settlements are associated with this road. Therefore, the itinerary is retraced by recording the Achaemenid settlements based on the gamut of archaeological evidence, geographical features, diverse precursors to the ‘Royal Road’, and historical records where available. A new prospect is proposed, according to which the Achaemenid Royal Road extends more westward than what has been assumed before. An appreciation of this trunk line presents not only an invaluable opportunity to identify Achaemenid political and administrative might but also a proper understanding of the Achaemenid settlements in Anatolia.