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.


Achaemenid Religion

Skjærvø, Prods Oktor. 2014. Achaemenid Religion. Religion Compass.  8(6), 175-187.

Achaemenid religion” was the religion of the rulers of Iran in the second half of the first millennium BCE and the local form of Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of the Iranians. The earliest form of Zoroastrianism is known from the Avesta, their sacred texts, which probably originated in the last half of the second and first half of the first millennium BCE, but were transmitted only orally until priests began writing them down in the seventh century. The “Achaemenid religion” is known from cuneiform inscriptions in the local Iranian language, Old Persian, and from tablets in Elamite found at Persepolis, as well as from other sources. It was a dualist religion, postulating the existence of good and evil from the beginning, as well as a polytheistic religion, but with one god, Ahura-Mazdā, outranking the others. Scholarly discussion has centered on the question whether the Achaemenids were real Zoroastrians, in the sense of following the reformed teachings of the historical Zarathustra. As the assumed historicity of Zarathustra and his reform are increasingly being questioned, scholars are now focusing on the interpretation of the inscriptions, notably from the point of view of the orality of Iranian traditions and their relationship with the Avesta, but also increasingly on the editing of the Elamite tablets and mining them for information.


Herodotus: Histories, Books 1-4

Herodotus: Histories, Books 1-4 (Herodoti Historiae: Libri I-IV), Edited by N. G. Wilson, 2015, Oxford Classical Texts.

New edition of 1902 original text, last revised in 1927
Accompanied by extensive commentary volume, Herodotea
New to this edition

Features extensively revised apparatus criticus
Incorporates new findings and research, including the readings of over 80 papyri and two medieval manuscripts
In this new edition of Herodotus’ Histories, Nigel Wilson has revised the original Oxford Classical Text by the Danish scholar C. Hude, published in 1906 and last revised in 1927. As well as incorporating much of the valuable work on the text that has been conducted since the original edition, in particular that of J. Enoch Powell and Paul Maas, Wilson has taken into account new readings from over 80 papyri. In addition, clarity in the apparatus criticus has been improved by the collation of two previously neglected medieval manuscripts, which belong to the so-called Roman family.

A number of passages remain puzzling, and Wilson proposes new solutions and provides plausible emendations wherever possible. This new edition is accompanied by a commentary, Herodotea, written by the editor, in which he explains many of the editorial decisions he made while revising this key classical text.


Memorial Volume for Chahryar Adle

bokhara 107

Bukhara, No. 107 (Memorial Volume for Chahryar Adle). Tehran. 2015.- Via Ehsan Shavarebi.

The 107th issue of Bukhara Magazine (July-August 2015) is dedicated to the memory of the late Professor Chahryar Adle (1944-2015). Chahryar Adle, Iranian archaeologist specialised in art and architecture of Iran and Central Asia during the Islamic period, passed away in Paris on 21 June.
This volume, edited by Ali Dehbashi, includes more than 50 papers in memory of the late Prof. Adle, by such scholars as Firouz Bagherzadeh, Mahmoud Mousavi, Rémy Boucharlat, Carlo G. Cereti, Marie-Christine David, Hekmatollah Mollasalehi, Ehsan Eshraghi, Rajab-Ali Labbaf-Khaniki, Ali Mousavi, Mehrdad Malekzadeh, Nader Nasiri-Moghaddam, Shahram Zare, Mohammad Taghi Ataee, Ehsan Shavarebi, etc. Also several papers and interviews of Prof. Adle are republished in this volume.
The volume is in Persian and consists of 513 pages.


Continuity and Change in Late Antique Iran: An Economic View of the Sasanians

Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2015. Continuity and Change in Late Antique Iran: An Economic View of the Sasanians. International Journal of the Society of Iranian Archaeologists. 1 (2), 95-108.

Ancient economy has commonly been studied in the context of commerce and trade, less attention being paid to the production side of the economy. Additionally, artificial periodizations based on political change, including the division of Near Eastern history to the pre-Islam and Islamic periods, has prevented historians from considering issues such as economic growth in the long term. The present paper, focusing on the production side of the Sasanian economy, tries to establish certain principles and introduce possible criteria to study the economic history of the Sasanians. Regions of Khuzistan and Tokharistan/Bactria provide useful examples and comparisons for illustrating some of the points.


The physique and appearance of Achaemenid monarchy

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2015. “That My Body is Strong”: The Physique and Appearance of Achaemenid Monarchy. in Dietrich Boschung, Alan Shapiro & Frank Waschek (eds.), Bodies in Transition: Dissolving the Boundaries of Embodied Knowledge. Fink Wilhelm Gmbh. 213-250.

The body of the Persian Great King was carefully and skilfully constructed through text and image as a series of signs to be decoded and read. Placing the Persian royal body within the context of general Near Eastern ideologies of the monarchic body, this chapter explores the codified meanings of, firstly, the royal head because the Great King’s eyes, nose, beard, and hair are rich in cultural and symbolic meaning. But more than anything it is the clothed body of the king that speaks in a uniquely ‘Persian voice’. The chapter explores how the monarch’s clothed body is a site of representation, an emblem of his power, potency, legitimacy, and strength.


Six Polybian themes concerning Alexander the Great

Overtoom, Nikolaus L. 2013. Six Polybian themes concerning Alexander the GreatClassical World. 106 (4), 571-593.

This study discusses the image of Alexander the Great created by Polybius and reinvestigates the Polybian themes concerning the Macedonian. Richard Billows suggested that there are fi ve Polybian themes found in his analysis of Alexander. Yet our current assumptions about the scope of Polybius’ portrayal and his own conclusions require reconsideration. In fact, Polybius’ favorable comparison of Rome’s accomplishments to those of Alexander emerges as a possible sixth theme. This article examines these six Polybian themes, while demonstrating that Polybius does not disassociate his text completely from an apologetic tone and offers a generally positive opinion of Alexander the Great.



The Arsacids: Gods or Godlike Creatures?

Dabrowa, Edward. 2014. The Arsacids: Gods or Godlike Creatures?. In Tommaso Gnoli and Federicomaria Muccioli (eds.), Divinizzazione, culto del sovrano e apoteosi Tra Antichità e Medioevo, Bononia University Press, 149-159.

Edward Dabrowa is a Polish historian, Professor who graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy and History at the Jagiellonian University in 1972 and received the title of professor 1994. He is Currently head of the Department of Ancient History and the Institute of Jewish Studies at the Faculty of History at the Jagiellonian University


Re-establishment of Achaemenid History

Imanpour, Mohammad-Taqi. 2015. Re-establishment of Achaemenid History and its Development in the Nineteenth and Twentieth CenturiesIranian Studies. 48(4), 515-530.

Iranians were aware of Sasanian history through traditional historical writings, but they knew nothing about Achaemenid history. Following European travelers to Persia from the fifteenth century, who were well prepared by reading the classical and biblical texts, Persepolis and Pasargadae were rediscovered and Achaemenid history re-established in the nineteenth century. The rise of Reza Khan to power and his grand emphasis on nationalism and ancient Iran that characterized his reign also left a deeper impact on Achaemenid studies in this period. In this paper the re-establishment of Achaemenid history and its development in nineteenth and twentieth centuries are discussed and reviewed.

Mohammad-Taqi Imanpour is Associate Professor of Ancient History of Iran at Ferdowsi University of Masshad, Iran.


The Susa Marriages

Van Oppen De Ruiter, Branko F. 2014. The Susa Marriages: A Historiographical Note. Ancient Society. 44, 25-41.

The Persian and Median noble women whom Alexander married to his Greek and Macedonian companions at Susa were all repudiated shortly after his death — so common opinion would have it. The present note aims to dispel this notion and to argue instead that Alexander’s Successors had no reason to abandon their Asiatic wives — even if they did eventually marry other women. If the Susan brides failed to make their presence in recorded history, that would be because ancient authors found nothing worth mentioning in their subsequent careers. Underlying modern assumptions, moreover, we will find misleading believes such as that the Macedonians were serially monogamous and that they resented their foreign wives. This article may thus serve as a warning about the intricacies of (early-) Hellenistic marital practices.