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Parthian Cities and Strongholds in Turkmenistan

Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2015. Parthian cities and strongholds in TurkmenistanInternational Journal of Eurasian Studies 2. 117–125.

The Arsacid empire (247 BC – AD 226) emerged as the result of a nomadic invasion in northeastern Iran and in southern Turkmenistan. The Arsacids attached great importance to the erection of fortifications and strongholds. Justin’s account on Arsaces I (247-211/210 BC) shows the unexpected triumph of a leader from the steppes in northeastern Iran and focuses on two aspects: that Arsaces raised a large army (41.4.8) and that he built fortresses and strengthened the cities (41.5.1). No less emphatic about it is Ammianus Marcellinus 23.6.4 who relates that Arsaces “filled Persia with cities, with fortified camps, and with strongholds”. Fortified centers made the dynasty’s basis in the course of internal consolidation of the kingdom, at the same time having become the elements of a defense system against the aggression of the neighboring powers, including the Seleucid monarchy, Graeco-Bactria, and some nomadic tribes of Central Asia. This paper shall point to some questions concerning cities and strongholds in Parthia proper, including the location of Dara, Nisaia, Asaak, Alexandropolis, and the development of Old Nisa as well as New Nisa.

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Books

The Many Faces of War in the Ancient World

Heckel, Waldemar, Sabine Müller & Graham Wrightson (eds.). 2015. The Many Faces of War in the Ancient World. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

This volume on different aspects of warfare and its political implications in the ancient world brings together the works of both established and younger scholars working on a historical period that stretches from the archaic period of Greece to the late Roman Empire. With its focus on cultural and social history, it presents an overview of several current issues concerning the “new” military history.

The book contains papers that can be conveniently divided into three parts. Part I is composed of three papers primarily concerned with archaic and classical Greece, though the third covers a wide range and relates the experience of the ancient Greeks to that of soldiers in the modern world – one might even argue that the comparison works in reverse. Part II comprises five papers on warfare in the age of Alexander the Great and on its reception early in the Hellenistic period. These demonstrate that the study of Alexander as a military figure is hardly a well-worn theme, but rather in its relative infancy, whether the approach is the tried and true (and wrongly disparaged) method of Quellenforschung or that of “experiencing war,” something that has recently come into fashion. Part III offers three papers on war in the time of Imperial Rome, particularly on the fringes of the Empire.

Covering a wide chronological span, Greek, Macedonian and Roman cultures and various topics, this volume shows the importance and actuality of research on the history of war and the diversity of the approaches to this task, as well as the different angles from which it can be analysed.

Table of Contents

Introduction 

Military Integration in Late Archaic Arkadia:
New Evidence from a Bronze Pinax (ca. 500 BC) of the Lykaion Johannes Heinrichs

Early Greek Citizen-Soldiers: Connections between the Citizens’ Social, Economic, Military, and Political Status in Archaic Polis States
Kurt A. Raaflaub

Laughter in Battle
Lawrence Tritle

Poseidippos of Pella and the Memory of Alexander’s Campaigns at the Ptolemaic Court
Sabine Müller

Introducing Ptolemy: Alexander and the Persian Gates
Timothy Howe

The Epigonoi – the Iranian phalanx of Alexander the Great
Marek Jan Olbrycht

“Shock and Awe” à la Alexander the Great
Edward M. Anson

Alexander the Great and the Fate of the Enemy: Quantifying, Qualifying, and Categorizing Atrocities
Waldemar Heckel and J. L. McLeod

Jovian and the Exodus from Nisibis: criticism and gratitude
John Vanderspoel

Soldiers and Their Families on the Late Roman Frontier in Central Jordan Alexander’s Campaign against the Autonomous Thracians
Conor Whately

A New Military Inscription from Numidia, Moesiaci Milites at Lambaesis , and Some Observations on the Phrase Desideratus in Acie
Riccardo Bertolazzi

About the Editors:

Waldemar Heckel is a Research Fellow of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

Sabine Müller is Professor of Ancient History at Marburg University.

Graham Wrightson is Assistant Professor of History at South Dakota State University. His research focuses primarily on Macedonian military history.

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Articles

Ferdowsi’s presentation of Zoroastrianism in an Islamic light

Ghazanfari, Kolsoum. 2015. Ferdowsi’s Presentation of Zoroastrianism in an Islamic Light, Journal of Persianate Studies  8 (1). 23 – 41.

Composed in 10th and 11th century ce, the Shāhnāmeh (The Book of the Kings) contains Iranian ancient history since the first king, Gayumart/Kayumars, up to the end of Sasanian era. One reason behind its popularity is the poet’s method and art in describing and explaining ancient religious elements in such a way that it does not cause religious bias among Zoroastrians and Muslims. This article shows that Ferdowsi has employed various methods to read religious issues of ancient Iran in the light of the social, cultural, and religious spirit of his own time. In his epic narratives, Ferdowsi paid serious attention to contemporary beliefs and social conditions, and this can account for the popularity of the Shāhnāmeh and its lasting influence.

 

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Articles

Egyptians in Babylonia in the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Periods

Hackl, Johannes and Michael Jursa. 2015. Egyptians in Babylonia in the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Periods.In J. Stökl & C. Waerzeggers (eds.), Exile and Return: The Babylonian Context, 157-180. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Egyptians are mentioned first in Babylonia in 676 B.C.E. and occasionally can be found also afterwards in Babylonian tablets of the Assyrian period. However, more numerous attestations only appear in the Neo-Babylonian period, after the beginning of Nabopolassar’s rebellion against the Assyrians. In the following discussion we distinguish the evidence from the ‘long sixth century’ (626–484 B.C.E.), with its abundant textual evidence, from later material. The general textual documentation from the period after the revolts against Xerxes, i.e. from 484 B.C.E. onwards, is far less abundant when compared with the earlier period. In view of the scarcity of the available sources, the number of attestations for Egyptians in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. is considerable. It should be
noted, however, that the evidence on Egyptians drawn from these sources is distributed unevenly in terms of institutional and private archives. The largest body of data stems from the Murašû archive from Nippur; additional attestations can
be found in smaller archives from Northern Babylonia, particularly the Kasr and Tattannu archives, as well as in other tablets from Babylon and Borsippa. The largest institutional archive of the period, the Esagil archive with its substantial
corpus of ration lists, on the other hand, yields no information on Egyptians working for the temple. The same holds true for the Zababa archive from Kiš, the second largest institutional archive from the late period.

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Articles

Parthian vassal kingdoms and Roman client states

Hartmann, Udo. 2015. Herrscher mit geteilten Loyalitäten. Vasallenherrscher und Klientelkönige zwischen Rom und Parthien“, in Ernst Baltrusch and Julia Wilker (Eds.), Amici – socii – clientes? Abhängige Herrschaft im Imperium Romanum, 301–362. Berlin: Edition Topoi.

In this paper, similarities and differences between Parthian vassal kingdoms and Roman client states are analyzed. From the perspective of the imperial periphery, the room for manoeuvre of the client kings and the vassal rulers between the two great empires and their political strategies and goals are analysed: Despite their subordination to Rome or Parthia, the petty rulers between Syria and Iran also pursued independent political goals that could conflict with the interests of their imperial superiors. By friendly relations with the other empire they secured themselves more options for action and were able to react flexibly to a crisis when the power of their overlord was threatened. The petty ruler’s first aim was the strengthening of their political position both within the hierarchy of their own empire and in the local rivalry between the monarchs of the Middle East across the imperial borders.

 

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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.