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Articles

On the Ionian League in the Fourth Century BC

Kholod, Maxim. 2020. On the Ionian League in the Fourth Century BC. Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica 26 (2), 201-214.

The author argues that the revival of the Ionian League, most likely dissolved by the Persians right after 494, happened ca. 373 BC. The League seems to have been refounded then as a purely religious association. Its life was very long this time: the League most probably did not cease to exist not only during the rest of the 4th century BC but it was the same one which functioned almost interruptedly throughout further several centuries and disappeared only at a moment after the mid-3rd century AD.

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Articles

YHW the God of Heaven

Granerød, Gard. 2021. YHW the God of Heaven: An interpretatio persica et aegyptiaca of YHW in Elephantine. Journal for the Study of Judaism 52 (1): 1-26.

The statue of Darius I from Susa

The article discusses the background and implications of the title “the God of Heaven” used as an epithet for YHW in Elephantine. It argues that one should look for the background in the winged symbol used in both Achaemenid and Egyptian iconography. In the Achaemenid–Egyptian context, the title “the God of Heaven” worked as a transmedial, textual reference to the winged symbol that was common to both Achaemenid and Egyptian iconography. In Egypt during the Achaemenid period, the reference of the winged symbol and the title “the God of Heaven” was ultimately the Achaemenid dynasty god Ahura Mazda and perhaps the Egyptian king-protector Horus-Behdety. In the identification of YHW with “the God of Heaven,” we witness an interpretatio persica et aegyptiaca of YHW into the supreme gods of the Achaemenids and the Egyptians.

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Articles

From the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley

Briant, Pierre. 2021. From the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley: Modalities and imitations of the Achaemenid imperial space. In: Yuri Pines, Michal Biran & Jörg Rüpke (eds.), The limits of universal rule. Eurasian empires compared, 49–78. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great (550–530 BCE), expanded by his successors, Cambyses (530–522) and most importantly Darius the Great (522–486), was conquered by Alexander the Great between 334 and 323. After the wars between the successors of the Macedonian conqueror, also known as the Diadochi, the empire imploded into several competing kingdoms (the Hellenistic kingdoms). From a geopolitical global perspective, the establishment of the empire of the Great Kings put an end to a very long period of territorial divisions among several kingdoms and empires, such as those existing around 550 (Pharaonic Egypt, the Lydian Kingdom in Asia Minor, the neo-Babylonian kingdom in Mesopotamia and in the Fertile Crescent, the Median kingdom in the surroundings of Hamadan/Ecbatana, etc.). The Achaemenid historical phase represents thus a singular moment in the longue durée: it is the first and last time in history that these peoples and countries were united within a unitary state structure for more than two centuries. This would later be called the Persian-Achaemenid Empire, in line with the name of the reigning dynasty.

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Books

Biruni

Malagaris, George. 2020. Biruni. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This book places Biruni in his historical and cultural context within the long-term history of medieval Eurasia. It outlines the course of Biruni’s life, clarifying key questions about his associations, travels, and patrons. Following an overview of Biruni’s chief interests, it details his major works to illustrate the breadth of Biruni’s output and his intellectual approach, especially his attention to language, esteem for knowledge, and commitment to objective truth. An account of his institutional context and relationships elucidates his friendships and rivalries, notably with Avicenna. The book also shows how varied paths of transmission affected the legacy of Biruni and its reception in global scientific and literary traditions. Finally, a timeline, list of key works, and detailed bibliographic essay will guide readers into further study of Biruni and his thought. This comprehensive overview of Biruni is based on the Arabic and Persian primary sources in the original languages using the best editions. The author has consulted scholarship in French, German, and Russian to draw conclusions and present up-to-date bibliographic references in a manner accessible to specialists and the general reader alike.

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Books

Aršāma and his World

Tuplin, Christopher J. & John Ma (eds.). 2020. Aršāma and his world: The Bodleian letters in context: Volume I: The Bodleian letters. -Volume II: Bullae and seals. -Volume III: Aršāma’s world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

During the Second World War the Bodleian Library in Oxford acquired a set of Aramaic letters, eight sealings, and the two leather bags in which the sealed letters were once stored. The letters concern the affairs of Aršāma, satrap of Egypt in the later fifth century. Taken with other material associated with him (mostly in Aramaic, Demotic Egyptian, and Akkadian), they illuminate the Achaemenid world of which Aršāama was a privileged member and evoke a wide range of social, economic, cultural, organizational, and political perspectives, from multi-lingual communication, storage and disbursement of resources, and satrapal remuneration, to cross-regional ethnic movement, long-distance travel, religious practice, and iconographic projection of ideological messages.

Particular highlights include a travel authorization (the only example of something implicit in numerous Persepolis documents), texts about the religious life of the Judaean garrison at Elephantine, Aršāma’s magnificent seal (a masterpiece of Achaemenid glyptic, inherited from a son of Darius I), and echoes of temporary disturbances to Persian management of Egypt. But what is also impressive is the underlying sense of systematic coherence founded on and expressed in the use of formal, even formalized, written communication as a means of control. The Aršāma dossier is not alone in evoking that sense, but its size, variety, and focus upon a single individual give it a unique quality.

Though this material has not been hidden from view, it has been insufficiently explored: it is the purpose of the three volumes of Aršāma and his World: The Bodleian Letters in Context to provide the fullest presentation and historical contextualization of this extraordinary cache yet attempted. Volume I presents and translates the letters alongside a detailed line-by-line commentary, while Volume II reconstructs the two seals that made the clay bullae that sealed the letters, with special attention to Aršāma’s magnificent heirloom seal. Volume III comprises a series of thematic essays which further explore the administrative, economic, military, ideological, religious, and artistic environment to which Aršāma and the letters belonged.

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Journal

NABU 2020-4

The latest issue of NABU (Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires), 2020-4 (notes 100-134), is out. Among other interesting notes, three fall in the scope of the Iranian Studies discipline.

129) Ran ZADOK: Four Loanwords in Neo-/Late-Babylonian

130) Gérard GERTOUX: Intercalations during the co-regency of Xerxes with Darius I

131) J. Nicholas REID: A Multi-year Audit Belonging to the Late Achaemenid and Early Hellenistic Esangila Archive: A New Text

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Books

Symbols of political authority

Mittertrainer, Anahita Nasrin. 2020. Sinnbilder politischer Autorität? Frühsasanidische Städtebilder im Südwesten Irans. Dortmund: Readbox unipress.

Welche Rolle spielten Stadtgründungen bei der Formation des sasanidischen Reichs? In der Studie Sinnbilder politischer Autorität? Frühsasanidische Städtebilder im Südwesten Irans analysiert Anahita Nasrin Mittertrainer, wie politische Autorität in Städten und ihrem Hinterland im Südwesten Irans von den frühen sasanidischen Herrschern (224–338 n.d.Z.) geschaffen und reproduziert wurde.

Im Jahr 2018 wurden mit Gur und Bišapur zwei frühsasanidische Städte in das UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe aufgenommen. Zeitlich passend wird in dieser Studie auf Grundlage von archäologischem und historischem Datenmaterial eine Reihe von Ergebnissen präsentiert, die auf mehreren Ebenen zu einer grundlegenden Neuinterpretation des frühsasanidischen Städtebaus beitragen. Hierzu zählen revidierte Datierungen von einzelnen Baustrukturen sowie die funktionelle Umdeutung von Gebäuden, die eine zentrale Rolle im jeweiligen Stadtbild einnahmen. Auf makroskopischer Ebene ermöglicht der systematische Stadtvergleich der Städte Gur, Bišapur und Darabgerd Schlussfolgerungen bezüglich sasanidischer Stadtplanung, der Funktionalisierung des Umlands der Städte und des Verhältnisses zwischen Stadt und König.

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Books

The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek World

Mairs, Rachel (ed.). 2021. The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek world. London & New York: Routledge.

This volume provides a thorough conspectus of the field of Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek studies, mixing theoretical and historical surveys with critical and thought-provoking case studies in archaeology, history, literature and art.

The chapters from this international group of experts showcase innovative methodologies, such as archaeological GIS, as well as providing accessible explanations of specialist techniques such as die studies of coins, and important theoretical perspectives, including postcolonial approaches to the Greeks in India. Chapters cover the region’s archaeology, written and numismatic sources, and a history of scholarship of the subject, as well as culture, identity and interactions with neighbouring empires, including India and China.

The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek World is the go-to reference work on the field, and fulfils a serious need for an accessible, but also thorough and critically-informed, volume on the Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms. It provides an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the Hellenistic East.

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Books

Armed force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire

Manning, Sean. 2021. Armed Force in the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire: Past Approaches, Future Prospects (Oriens et Occidens, 32). Stuttgart: Fanz Steiner Verlag.

The armies of Cyrus, Xerxes and Darius III are usually understood through the lens of classical literature and stereotypes about the orient. Sean Manning proposes a new understanding based on all kinds of evidence and the study of the ancient Near East. He examines the last century and a half of research in its historical and ideological context. Three core chapters treat Akkadian tablets, Aramaic documents, royal inscriptions, and artifacts as sources in their own right, not compliments to Herodotus. The different perspectives of Iranian philologists, Mesopotamian archaeologists and historians of ancient Greece are considered and addressed. A series of case studies show that the Greek and Latin texts can be read in unfamiliar ways which can survive stronger criticism than traditional interpretations. The king’s troops were not literary foils to show the virtues of Greek hoplites or Scythian horsemen, they were agents of an early world empire which drew on long traditions and the latest innovations to gather money, soldiers, and workers and deploy them at the will of the king.

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Books

When the dualists argued

Ruani, Flavia & Mihaela Timus (eds.). 2020. Quand les dualistes polémiquaient: Zoroastriens et manichéens (Orient & Méditerranée, 34). Leuven: Peeters.

The authors of this collected volume show that Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, which share a dualist vision of the world and the primordial entities, have raised in a similar way to Judaism, Christianity and Islam the question of the relationship of their followers to truth and therefore the error made by others. The volume makes a fundamental contribution to the study of the phenomenon of religious controversy in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. It allows us to better understand two Eastern systems of thought, both in what they have in common and in their irreducible individuality.