Individuals and Institutions in the Ancient Near East

Gabbay, Uri & Shai Gordin (eds.). 2021. Individuals and Institutions in the Ancient Near East: A Tribute to Ran Zadok (Studies in Ancient Near Eastern Records 27). Berlin: De Gruyter.

This volume honors Ran Zadok’s work by focusing on his sustained interest in Mesopotamian social history. It brings together a rich array of scholarship on ancient names, deities, individuals, and institutions, from Persepolis to the Levant. Building on Zadok’s intellectual concerns, this book includes contributions that expand our understanding of the diverse tapestry of the peoples who inhabited the Ancient Near East.

Among the other interesting contributions, those in the first section of the volume (“The Persian Period”) stand in the discipline of studies related to the history of ancient Iran:

  • Matthew W. Stolper: Numbered Tablets in the Persepolis Fortification Archive
  • Caroline Waerzeggers: The Day Before Cyrus Entered Babylon
  • Stefan Zawadzki: Contribution to the Persian Nobility in Babylonia

See the full table of contents in publisher’s website.


Studia Iranica 49 (2)

The second issue of Studia Iranica 49 (2020) is out. For a table of contents and access to individual articles, see below or visit this page.

  • Enrico G. Raffaelli: Day-Name Titles, Content Titles, Mixed Titles. The Different Appellations of the Avestan Yašts 5, 8, 9, 15, 18 and 19
  • Jaime Martínez-Porro: The Written Transmission of the Vištāsp Yašt Ceremony
  • Paola Orsatti: The New Persian Perfect of the kard-astam Type. Materials for a Historical-Linguistic Interpretation
  • Willem Floor: The Gates of Isfahan in the Safavid and Qajar Periods
  • Christian Bromberger: Le statut des femmes au Gilān. Un sujet controversé
  • Comptes rendus


Annales Islamologiques

The latest volume of Annales Islamologiques (vol. 54) is dedicated to the theme “acts of protection in Early Islamicate societies.” It includes a number of papers that fall in the scope of Iranian studies as well.

  • Said Huseini: Acts of Protection Represented in Bactrian Documents
  • Arezou Azad, Pejman Firoozbakhsh: “No One Can Give You Protection”. The Reversal of Protection in a Persian Decree Dated 562/1167
  • Dieter Weber: Living Together in Changing Iran. Pahlavi Documents on Arabs and Christians in Early Islamic Times
  • Etienne de La Vaissière: Sogdian Ḏimmī. Religious and Political Protection in Early 8th Century Central Asia

Papers are open-access and accessible (click here).


Aspects of the memory of the Persian Wars

Proietti, Giorgia. 2021. Prima di Erodoto: Aspetti della memoria delle Guerre persiane (Hermes 120). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

This book concerns the memory of the Persian Wars in Athens, in relation to the Panhellenic scenario, from the immediate post Marathon to the so-called ‘First Peloponnesian War’ (461–446). It analyzes all the pre-historiographic forms of memory (poetry, inscriptions, monuments, topography, theater, rites, cults, festivals, public discourse) through which the Persian Wars were remembered and represented before Herodotus told them in historiographic form.

Filling a gap in current research, the book starts from the awareness that the Persian Wars as told in the Stories of Herodotus do not exactly correspond to factual history, but are instead the result of a multiform and stratified process of memorialization, which decade after decade has reshaped events in the light of present needs. Combining a philological approach to literary, epigraphic and archaeological documentation with a theoretical and methodological landscape influenced by cultural anthropology and memory studies, it reconstructs the images and meanings associated with each layer of this process, thus offering a sort of stratigraphy of the memory of the Persian Wars before Herodotus.


Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East

The latest issue of Studia Orientalia Electronica (Vol. 9 No. 2) is dedicated to the theme, “Identity and Empire in the Ancient Near East.” It conveys, inter alia, three articles that fall into the scope of ancient Iranian history and culture:

  • Silvia Balatti – Yau̯nā and Sakā: Identity Constructions at the Margins of the Achaemenid Empire
  • Jennifer Finn – Persian Collections: Center and Periphery at Achaemenid Imperial Capitals
  • Ehud Ben Zvi – The Art of Bracketing Empire Out and Creating Parallel Worlds: The Case of Late Persian Yehud

Handbook of Ancient Afro-Eurasian Economies

Reden, Sitta von (ed.). 2021. Handbook of ancient Afro-Eurasian economies. Volume 2: Local, Regional, and Imperial Economies. Berlin: De Gruyter.

The second volume of the Handbook describes different extractive economies in the world regions that have been outlined in the first volume. A wide range of economic actors – from kings and armies to cities and producers – are discussed within different imperial settings as well as the tools, which enabled and constrained economic outcomes. A central focus are nodes of consumption that are visible in the archaeological and textual records of royal capitals, cities, religious centers, and armies that were stationed, in some cases permanently, in imperial frontier zones. Complementary to the multipolar concentrations of consumption are the fiscal-tributary structures of the empires vis-à-vis other institutions that had the capacity to extract, mobilize, and concentrate resources and wealth. Larger volumes of state-issued coinage in various metals show the new role of coinage in taxation, local economic activities, and social practices, even where textual evidence is absent. Given the overwhelming importance of agriculture, the volume also analyses forms of agrarian development, especially around cities and in imperial frontier zones. Special consideration is given to road- and water-management systems for which there is now sufficient archaeological and documentary evidence to enable cross-disciplinary comparative research.

This is an open-access volume. For information on the first volume, see here.


Accounting for Fruit in the PFA

Stolper, Matthew W. 2021. From the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project 7: Accounting for fruit in the PFA. Arta 2021.001.

Abstract: Editions of Persepolis Fortification documents that compile multiple records of fruit, a category (provisionally labeled C1/W) postulated by Henkelman & Stolper Persika 21, p. 169ff.; editions of selected tabular accounts of fruit (Category W) cited in the same article; a hypothesis about connections among C1, C1/W, and W records of fruit in information processing at Persepolis; a hypothesis about underlying practices of fruit production on terms comparable to those of contemporary Babylonia; appendixes on some Elamite words connected with fruit orchards, fruit processing, and wine.


The Administration of Syria under Alexander the Great

Kholod, Maxim. 2021. The administration of Syria under Alexander the Great. Klio 103(2). 505–537.

The author is of the opinion that as a result of Alexander the Great’s conquest of Syria (late 333–332 BC), which had been a single administrative entity under the Achaemenids, it was divided into two satrapies – the northern and the southern one. He believes that Menon, son of Cerdimmas, was appointed as the first head of the northern satrapy (winter 333/332), to be replaced by Arimmas (early spring 331), who, in his turn, was succeeded by Asclepiodorus, son of Eunicus (late summer 331). Besides, it seems that Andromachus became the first head of the southern satrapy (shortly before winter 332/331), and after he was killed, Menon, transferred from the north to the south, took his place (early spring 331). Already in Alexander’s lifetime, probably in 329/328, Syria was once again merged into one satrapy. It is unclear who was installed as satrap of the unified region. At any rate, it could not have been Menes, son of Dionysius: the hypothesis that in winter 331/330 he was made satrap of the new province including Syria and Cilicia does not stand scrutiny. In the author’s view, the main task Alexander assigned to Menes was to take control and then to keep open and organized the sea communications with the coast of Syria, Phoenicia and Cilicia, and in the matters concerning these activities Menes was fully independent of the local satraps.


The Persian revival

Grigor, Talinn. 2021. The Persian revival: The imperialism of the copy in Iranian and Parsi architecture. University Park, PA : Penn State University Press.

One of the most heated scholarly controversies of the early twentieth century, the Orient-or-Rome debate turned on whether art historians should trace the origin of all Western—and especially Gothic—architecture to Roman ingenuity or to the Indo-Germanic Geist. Focusing on the discourses around this debate, Talinn Grigor considers the Persian Revival movement in light of imperial strategies of power and identity in British India and in Qajar-Pahlavi Iran.

The Persian Revival examines Europe’s discovery of ancient Iran, first in literature and then in art history. Tracing Western visual discourse about ancient Iran from 1699 on, Grigor parses the invention and use of a revivalist architectural style from the Afsharid and Zand successors to the Safavid throne and the rise of the Parsi industrialists as cosmopolitan subjects of British India. Drawing on a wide range of Persian revival narratives bound to architectural history, Grigor foregrounds the complexities and magnitude of artistic appropriations of Western art history in order to grapple with colonial ambivalence and imperial aspirations. She argues that while Western imperialism was instrumental in shaping high art as mercantile-bourgeois ethos, it was also a project that destabilized the hegemony of a Eurocentric historiography of taste.

An important reconsideration of the Persian Revival, this book will be of vital interest to art and architectural historians and intellectual historians, particularly those working in the areas of international modernism, Iranian studies, and historiography.


Eunuchs as guardians of women in Achaemenid Persia

Lenfant, Dominique. 2021. Eunuchs as guardians of women in Achaemenid Persia. Orientalism and occidentalism in modern scholarship. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 61(4), 456-474.

Ancient Greek authors did not see eunuchs in Persia as servants of the ‘harem’, an image projected onto the past under the influence of a modern Orientalist stereotype.