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Articles

The Kingdom of Adiabene between Parthians and Romans

Luther, Andreas. 2015. Das Königreich Adiabene zwischen Parthern und Römern. In Ernst Baltrusch & Julia Wilker (eds.), Amici – socii – clientes? Abhängige Herrschaft im Imperium Romanum, 275–300. Berlin: Edition Topoi.

This article examines more closely the relations between the kings of Adiabene – an area in the North of modern Iraq around the city of Arbil – and the Romans. It reveals that the kings of Adiabene at times took into consideration the interests of the Roman Empire, despite forming part of the Parthian Empire, in part because they had to.

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Books

Excavating an Empire

Daryaee, Touraj, Ali Mousavi & Khodadad Rezakhani (eds.). 2014. Excavating an Empire:Achaemenid Persia in Longue Durée. Costa Mesa California: Mazda Publisher.

Study of empires and imperial power within the context of world history is a relatively recent subject within a field which itself is quite young. With the ever present discussions on the issue of globalization and increased contact among modern nation-states, a need to understand the long term trends in human and material interaction, and the means of controlling them, is increasingly felt in academia. Empires, as large units of administration which are often posited to have had an abusive relationship with their peripheries, are deemed viable subjects of study and inquiry in the pre-modern, pre-globalized world. On the other hand, the imposed frame work of modern nation-states on historiography, and the long trend in national, and often nationalistic historiography, similarly has encouraged a study of the empires which are thought to be ancestors of modern nations, from Italy and Rome to China and the Qing Empire. Among these, the Achaemenid Empire which ruled the Near East, and occasionally parts of North Africa, for about two centuries (late sixth to late fourth century BCE) is a curious and commonly neglected case. Often fitted within the national historiography of Iran, it is nonetheless acknowledged to have had a wider impact on the region beyond the borders of the modern nation-state.

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Articles

Roman ‘Soldatenkaiser’ on the Triumphal Rock Reliefs of Shāpūr I

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2015. Roman ‘Soldatenkaiser’ on the Triumphal Rock Reliefs of Shāpūr I – A ReassessmentHISTORIA I ŚWIAT 4, 47-63.

Five rock reliefs surviving in Persis/Fārs province in southern Iran represent the victories of Shāpūr I (241–272 AD), the second Sasanian King of Kings (Šāhānšāh), over the Roman Empire. The three Roman Emperors depicted on these reliefs have traditionally been identified as Gordian III (238–244), Philip I – known as ‘the Arab’ – (244–249) and Valerian I (253–260). From the 1960s onward, new interpretations are presented. In the most recent of these, Uranius Antoninus (253/254) is recognised on three of Shāpūr’s triumphal reliefs. The present paper aims to re-examine these new hypotheses by considering numismatic materials, including a unique gold coin of Shāpūr which bears an image of the same topic accompanying a legend on its reverse.

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Articles

Religious Appropriation of National Symbols in Iran: Searching for Cyrus the Great

Merhavy, Menahem. 2015. Religious Appropriation of National Symbols in Iran: Searching for Cyrus the GreatIranian Studies. 48(6), 933-948.

In this article I examine the debate over the character of Cyrus the Great in Iran during the last four decades, using it as a prism to view the struggle over the desired balance between religious and ethnic components of Iranian identity. Heated polemics over the historical figure of Cyrus and his legacy reveal undercurrents of Iranian identity dilemmas as well as different and conflicting views of Iranian identity. Beyond a mere historical or religious controversy, the debate over the “right” memory of Cyrus presents an interesting case of shifting emphasis on identity and sources of political inspiration in Iranian society from the late 1960s to the present. Moreover, putting the debate over the ancient king in perspective, there emerges a wider picture of religious adaptation and embrace of what once seemed pagan or secular.

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Articles

Ethics of War and Peace in the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi

Mahalati, Mohammad Jafar Amir. 2015. Ethics of War and Peace in the Shahnameh of FerdowsiIranian Studies. 48(6), 905-931.

 

This article provides an overview of the ethics of war and peace in the most important and normatively influential work of epic literature known in the eastern lands of Islam, namely the shahnameh of Ferdowsi (d. 1020 CE). As one of the greatest sources of the Iranian cultural identity for over a millennium, Shahnameh (lit. The book of kings) defines normative ideals in the ethics of war and peace within narratives that connect the ancient history of Iran to its mythical eras and in effect to both the medieval time of the epic’s authorship and modern Iranian identity. By identifying limits, standards and legitimacy for war and peace in Shahnameh, this article aims to facilitate an Iranian contribution to the global literature and practice on peacemaking that has deep roots in the Islamo-Persian tradition.

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Articles

Approaches to Social Complexity in Kura-Araxes Culture

Alizadeh, Karim, Hamed Eghbal, and Siavash Samei. 2015. Approaches to Social Complexity in Kura-Araxes Culture: A View from Köhne Shahar (Ravaz) in Chaldran, Iranian Azerbaijan, Paléorient. 41(1),37-54.

Due to increasing investigations and studies of the Kura-Araxes cultural communities, our information about this enigmatic
archaeological culture has increased in many respects. Its interactions and regional variations in terms of cultural materials have been analyzed by many scholars. However, our knowledge about its societal variations is still very limited. We do not yet know much about social dynamics behind its material culture that spread out through vast regions in the Caucasus and the Near East. Indeed, there are some fundamental questions about the Kura-Araxes cultural communities that need further investigation. To address these questions, we focus on data collected from Köhne Shahar, a Kura-Araxes site in the Chaldran area of the Iranian Azerbaijan. We concentrate on two major features of the site that we have explored during the past three years: the fortification wall and the stratigraphy. Analysis of the site’s large fortification wall suggests that external threat and conflict could have played a role in the development of political complexity at Köhne Shahar. We further argue that there is a great potential at Köhne Shahar for addressing social complexity and suggest that further investigations at the site may shed more light on social dynamics in the Kura-Araxes cultural communities.

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Events

CfP: Endangered Iranian Languages

ISEIL 2016

Second International Symposium on “Endangered Iranian Languages

8 – 9  JULY  2016, PARIS, FRANCE

CNRS, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, INALCO, EPHE

The International Symposium on Endangered Iranian Languages (ISEIL) proudly announces the second symposium to be held at the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle, France, from 8 to 9 July 2016, as part of a cooperation between the Empirical Linguistics, at the Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany and UMR “Mondes iranien et indien” (CNRS, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, INALCO, EPHE).

The Symposium is the most significant gathering of scholars from all the regions of the world and across different disciplinary interests in the field “Endangered Iranian Languages”. It serves as a platform for presenting new knowledge and insights.

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Articles

Epigraphic practices in Persia and the ancient Iranian world

Canepa, Matthew P. 2015. Text, image, memory, and performance: epigraphic practices in Persia and the ancient Iranian world. In Antony Eastmond, Viewing Inscriptions in the Late Antique and Medieval World, 10-35. Cambridge University Press.

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Articles

Merv, an archaeological case-study from the northeastern frontier of the Sasanian Empire

Simpson, St John. 2014. Merv, an archaeological case-study from the northeastern frontier of the Sasanian EmpireJournal of Ancient History. 2(2), 1-28.

This paper re-examines some of the latest archaeological evidence from Merv, beginning with the oasis, followed by the city and finally with aspects of the urban economy. It concludes with a brief exploration of how this cumulative evidence matches that from some other regions of the Sasanian Empire, including frontier regions such as Gorgan, and the Mesopotamian heartlands, and argues that cross-regional archaeological comparison throws new light on how the
Sasanian state effectively managed its resources.

Categories
Articles

Babylonian kingship in the Persian period

Waerzeggers, Caroline. 2015. Babylonian Kingship in the Persian Period: Performance and Reception. In J. Stökl & C. Waerzeggers (eds.), Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context, 181-222. Berlin: De Gruyter.

The Persian conquest of Babylon set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to the partial return of Judah’s exilic community and to the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem. Despite Cyrus’ prominent role in the biblical narrative  about these events – and despite the historical reality of Yehud’s place within the Persian Empire – the Hebrew Bible constructs the context of the return as a kingless arena which required a profound reworking and re-interpretation of the traditional alignments between the Davidic king and Yahweh.¹ In this paper, I will contextualize these reflections by asking how Babylonian audiences responded to their loss of indigenous kingship following the Persian conquest – for, even  though the institution of ‘King of Babylon’ with its rituals and symbols survived into the Persian period, there is evidence of profound change during the Empire’s two hundred years of existence. After an introduction, the first part of this paper deals with contemporary responses to Persian rule in Babylonia; the second part moves on to a discussion of the reception of Persian period kingship by later generations of Babylonians.