This article is concerned with interregional trade dynamics between Elam and Mesopotamia in the early to mid-first millennium BC. During the seventh century BC, two great famines in the Neo-Elamite kingdom, of which climatological changes were a major cause, were documented in the textual records. An era of megadrought made grain procurement from the neighboring regions essential to feed the Neo-Elamite lowland population. This article further explores the impact of the two Neo-Elamite famines and “drought of the century” on the commercial and political mechanisms in the Upper Persian Gulf region.
Priestman, Seth, Nasser Al-Jahwari, Eve MacDonald, Derek Kennet, Kawther Alzeidi, Mark Andrews, Vladimir Dabrowski, Vladimer Kenkadze, Rosalind MacDonald, Tatia Mamalashvili, Ibrahim Al-Maqbali, Davit Naskidashvili & Domiziana Rossi. 2023. Fulayj: A Sasanian to Early Islamic Fort in the Sohar Hinterland. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 52 (2023): 291–304.
Fulayj fort is located on the fertile al-Bāṭinah plain of Oman, 12 km inland from Ṣaḥam and 32 km south-east of the key urban centre and major medieval port of Sohar (Ṣuḥār). The chance discovery of the site by Nasser Al-Jahwari in 2012 provided an important breakthrough in our potential understanding of the late pre-Islamic and initial Islamic period occupation in Oman. Finds collected during the first survey of the site were inspected by Derek Kennet and identified as likely to be of late Sasanian or very early Islamic date. Following further recording in 2014, a broad, multidisciplinary archaeological investigation was launched in 2015. Two seasons were completed by a joint British-Omani team in 2015 and 2016. Following a break in operations, a third season of fieldwork was completed in 2022.1 These investigations have confirmed the initial dating of the fort and substantially enhanced our understanding of all aspects of its planning, construction, history of occupation, internal organization, nature of use, etc. It is possible that Fulayj formed part of a wider defensive military cordon protecting the commercial and agricultural potential of the fertile coastal strip and urban centre of the Sohar hinterland. These wider aspects will be returned to again for further consideration below.
Das „Xorde Avesta“ ist eine (in Handschriften und Drucken überlieferte) Sammlung von (größtenteils) kürzeren liturgischen Texten in avestischer Sprache (sowie in persischen und in indischen Sprachen) auf der Grundlage einer sie charakterisierenden, allgemein verbindlichen Struktur folgt. Diese Struktur zeigt typische Variationsmuster gemäß Klasse, Zeit und Ort der Handschrift. Im Rahmen von allgemeiner Struktur und partikularem Muster finden sich wiederum individuelle Differenzen in Material und in dessen Anordnung, die dafür verantwortlich sind, daß Xorde Avesta Handschriften fast immer Unikate sind (und vermutlich darum auch niemals im Rahmen der Hypothese der ‘Stammhandschriften’ diskutiert wurden). Die Hs. T12 aus der Mitte des 16. Jh. gehört zu jenen Handschriften des Xorde Avesta, die für unsere Rekonstruktion der Geschichte einer bestimmten Handschriftenklasse eine herausragende Position besitzen. Sie bildet zudem eine Schnittstelle von frühem iranischen Xorde Avesta (in Pahlavi) und der indischen Tradition, in die die Handschrift (wieder?) eingeführt wird.
In this paper, I will briefly examine the concept of superiority/inferiority in the Achaemenid administrative system in particular and in the ancient Iranian world in general. In doing so, I will focus on the word bandaka, its meanings and its nuance in Iranian languages in the context of ancient Near Eastern culture, as this word plays a very important role in the definition of terminology related to slavery and associated terms in the Iranian world. In addition, I will discuss two additional words related to this topic that shed more light on the concept of superiority/inferiority in Ancient Iranian societies. Our main sources for this study are inscriptions, letters and contracts from a variety of Western and Central Asian cultures. In this study, I chose three Middle Iranian languages, Sogdian, Pahlavi, and Bactrian, because the geography in which these languages were spoken was a part of the Achaemenid Empire.
In the early fifth century BC rations of bread and wine were issued to small numbers of horses at Persepolis, the Achaemenid Persian capital located in what is today the southwest Iranian province of Fars. Although considered puzzling by many students of ancient Persian history, ample evidence exists in the historical and equine veterinary literature of mediaeval through early twentieth century date attesting to the widespread practice of giving bread and wine to horses for both nutritional and therapeutic reasons. This evidence is reviewed in order to contextualize the Persepolis evidence within the broader framework of equine management across space and time.
We often assume that our present world alone has experienced the phenomenon of globalization and that it is necessarily a feature of the modern age. And in this we like to imagine the world of the past as made up of homogeneous monolithic blocks with rigid and well-defined impenetrable boundaries. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ancient world enjoyed an interconnectedness as tight if not tighter than ours is today. Nowhere do we see this connection better than between the Greek and the Persian world. The conflict between the two serves as the starting point of the archetypal conflict between the Orient and the Occident. However, at the same time, Persian culture served as a foundation for Greek moral philosophy and by extension, had a major influence on later Jewish, Christian and Islamic philosophy. The transition from mythological to philosophical knowledge occurs in Greek thought when it encounters these Magi. In this regard, we shall see that Plato had a special relationship with the Magi, and the Magi in turn held Plato in high regard. However, Plato’s example is by no means an isolated case. We have other equally famous examples of Greek philosophers who we are told went to study in Persia before Plato, namely Pythagoras and Democritus.
This paper reflects on the circumstances that could be held to account for the singleton tablet in Greek, Fort. 1771, of the Persepolis Fortification archive. It proposes that this tablet possibly records a wine ration for a functionary of the Persepolis administrative system, which could have been drafted by this functionary himself. The use of Greek would imply that he was a native Greek speaker.
This paper deals with questions regarding the nutritional rations paid to individuals as reflected by the Persepolis Fortification Archive focusing on the inequality and its meanings in terms of labels of social status. The author has examined these unequal rations distributed among travelers and various workers and subordinates of different status (puhu, Kurtaš and libap).
The external stairways serving several ceremonial structures of Persepolis are often-illustrated hallmarks of this heartland capital of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (fig. 1). Yet their forms, kinetic dynamics, and experiential agencies receive very little commentary within any history of architecture, whether it be narrow or global. Within discrete discussions of the site itself, their nature as stairs typically defers to their pictorial aspect as sculptural surfaces. The reasons for this paradox are diverse and interesting. My modest aim here is to open fresh dialogue on the stairways and to suggest some prospects for further work.
Babylonia from the seventh to the fourth century BCE, in the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid periods, has provided us with an abundance of cuneiform tablets: according to the estimate of M. Jursa (2005: 1 and 2010: 6), more than 16,000 legal or administrative documents have been published, with tens of thousands of unpublished texts housed in museum collections around the world. Most of these documents deal with everyday practical matters, and can be classified as economic texts, familial documents (marriage contracts, documents of division of succession and of transfer of properties, testaments, etc.), administrative records, and letters, mostly drafted in the “long sixth century” (Jursa 2010: 4–5) that lasted about 140 years between the fall of the NeoAssyrian Empire (620 BCE) and the “end of archives” in the second year of Xerxes (484 BCE). Although far fewer women appear in these texts than men, we estimate that at least several thousand women are mentioned. Most of them were inhabitants of Babylonian cities like Babylon, Borsippa, Uruk, and Sippar, and they represent various social strata: women of free status from urban families, slaves, and oblates at temples. The corpus constitutes, therefore, a good basis for discussing the role, status, situation, and activities of women in the social, economic, and familial frameworks.