Persia’s Lycian Work Force and the Satrap of Sardis

Hyland, John. 2022. Persia’s Lycian Work Force and the Satrap of Sardis. Arta 2022. 002.

New journal entries from the Persepolis Fortification Archive present a hitherto unknown subgroup of laborers known as marataš, many of whom appear in contexts of group travel from the Lycian borderlands of southwest Anatolia to Iran. This paper proposes an etymology for the marataš, and discusses the implications for the origins of Lycian workers in Persis, the administrative relationship between Lycia and the Sardis satrapy, and the role of deportation within the larger Achaemenid labor system.


They went to Tamukkan

Potts, Daniel T. 2022. ‘They went to Tamukkan:’ Some Observations on Bushehr, Borazjan and Overland Travel between the Persian Gulf and the Achaemenid Capitals. Motaleat-e Bastanshenasi-e Parseh 19: 14-38.

Fig. 1. Map of principal halts on the route between Bushehr and Shiraz, showing Persepolis and Pasargadae (courtesy Dr. Andrea Squitieri, Munich).

In recent years the Achaemenid sites in the Borazjan area have attracted a great deal of attention and their identification with Elamite Tamukkan/Greek Taocê has been widely accepted. Aside from the architectural interest of these sites, however, their location along what later became an important route linking the Persian Gulf and the Iranian plateau is significant. Whether travelling between the Persian Gulf coast and Shiraz, or the earlier Achaemenid capitals (Pasargadae and Persepolis), Borazjan represents the first stage for travellers moving along this route. This study examines some of the logistical aspects of travel between Borazjan and the highlands, as well as the climatic extremes experienced by travellers during much of the year. The difficulties of traversing the route are illustrated with selections from 19th and early 20th century travellers accounts. The advantages of commencing or ending the journey at Shif, as opposed to Bushehr, are discussed with reference to numerous examples. The importance of mules as pack animals along the route is emphasized. Finally, the implications of the evidence marshaled for the burgeoning field of sensory studies are underscored.


An Unknown Illuminated Judeo-Persian Manuscript of Nizāmī’s Khosrow and Shīrīn

Khosrow Discovers Shīrīn Bathing, From Pictorial Cycle of Eight Poetic Subjects, mid 18th century. Brooklyn Museum.

Carmeli, Orit. 2021. An Unknown Illuminated Judeo-Persian Manuscript of Nizāmī’s Khosrow and Shīrīn. Ars Judaica. The Bar Ilan Journal of Jewish Art 17(1). 131–140.

This is a brief presentation of the mid-seventeenth-century illuminated Judeo-Persian copy of Nizāmī’s Khosrow and Shīrīn from the collection of the Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. The Khamsa of Nizāmī Ganjavi (d. 1209) is one of the most famous medieval Persian love stories and one of the most admired poetical works ever written in the Persian language. Khosrow and Shīrīn (composed 1175/6-1191) is the second book in the Quinary and recounts the tragic love story of the Sasanian king Khosrow II Parviz and the Armenian princess Shīrīn. Nizāmī’s poetry, in addition to other works of Persian classical masters, was regarded by the Jews of Iran as an integral part of their literary and cultural heritage. Over the years these renowned poetical works were largely transliterated into Judeo-Persian and copies of the texts can be found in various public and private collections. The manuscript in question and other illuminated Judeo-Persian manuscripts clearly testify to their owners and patrons’ awareness of long-established Persian artistic tradition and cultural conventions, representing Jewish-Persian encounter in text and image.


Gayōmart and Adam

Panaino, Antonio. 2021. Gayōmart e Adamo. Simmetrie e Asimmetrie tra Zoroastrismo e mondo islamo-giudaico-cristiano. In Carlo Saccone (ed.), Adamo, il secondo Adamo, il nuovo Adamo (Quaderni di studi indo-mediterranei). Milano: Mimesis Edizioni.

The frequent and direct association between Gayōmart and Adam, well attested within the Arabo-Islamic literary tradition, hides a number of embarrassing ethnic and cultural problems emerging from the taboo of the incest and directly connected with the impending desire to accommodate the origin of humanity, as inevitably generated by a couple of siblings, within a moral covered scheme, and in spite of the totally different sexual ethics of the Mazdean tradition. In the framework of this operation, the comparison with the Zoroastrian customs, which emphasized the habit of the next-of-kin marriage, presented a serious problem of moral nature. Then, the necessary accommodation of the origin of humanity was given a special solution, in which the story of J̌im e J̌imāg or of Mašyā e Mašyāne had no particular weight, and were practically covered, while an isolated Gayōmart, devoid of any emphasis for the union with his own mother, was identified with Adam.


Greek Historians, Persika and the Persian Empire

Thomas, Rosalind. 2022. Greek Historians, Persika and the Persian Empire (late 5th.c. – 4th.c.). In: Efi Papadodima (ed.), Ancient Greek Literature and the Foreign: Athenian Dialogues II, 119-138. Berlin: De Gruyter.

The chapter discusses the ways in which various Greek writers en-gaged with the complexities of the Persian Empire, especially Herodotus, Xenophon, Aristotle, and some fourth-century writers (fragmentary) of Persika. It examines the tension between Greek hostility towards Persia and the conventional stereotypes, and their need to understand more about the Empire in a new form of ethnography. New insights into the Persian Empire (and new evidence) encourage returning to the Greek writers afresh and examining them from different angles: the chapter argues that amidst the clichés, there was also a seriousness and urgency in the fourth century about trying to understand the Persian Empire and its monarchy.


God is in the Detail

Henkelman, Wouter. F.M. 2022. God is in the Detail: The Divine Determinative and the Expression of Animacy in Elamite with an Appendix on the Achaemenid Calendar. In: Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum & Ingo Schrakamp (eds.), Transfer, Adaption und Neukonfiguration von Schrift- und Sprachwissen im Alten Orient (Episteme, 25), 405-477. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Instead of giving an abstract of the above-cited paper, a detailed table of its contents will follow:

1. Introduction

1.1. Of Aryan dictators and Elamite Tape Recorders

1.2. Iranian Elamite

2. Redefining the Divine?

3. Months as Divine or Numinous Beings

4. Semantic Animacy in Middle and Neo-Elamite

4.1. Semantic Animacy Expressed by Determinatives

4.2. Expression of Semantic Animacy by Primary Nominal Suffixes

4.3. Expression of Semantic Animacy by Animate Concord

4.4. Animacy in Elam: An Interim Summary

5. The Months of Achaemenid Pārsa

5.1. Cultural Preferences from Persepolis to the Fahliyān

5.2. Continuity and Change

5.3. The Importance of the Old Iranian Month Names

6. Appendix: the Achaemenid Calendar

6.1. A Multilingual Calendar

6.2. A Calendar for the Empire


Camels and their rations in the Persepolis Fortification Archive

Potts, Daniel T. 2021. Camels and their rations in the Persepolis Fortification Archive: An enigma and its variations. Egitto e Vicino Oriente 44, 231-247.

The feeding habits of camels entail exceedingly long periods (6-9 hours) of daily grazing and browsing unless fodder and/or rations are given to them as dietary supplements. Historical sources from the 17th to the 20th century attest to the use of such rations, particularly when camels were working, whether in commercial caravans or on military campaigns, and time constraints or a shortage of grazing would not provide the caloric intake necessary to keep the animals healthy and able to sustain their workload. These sources provide the key to understanding a small number of Persepolis Fortification Archive texts recording the disbursement of flour rations for camels. They also explain how ‘flour,’ normally a coarsely ground meal made of barley or another grain, was prepared with the addition of water, oil and/or other additives (fish, legumes), and formed into balls that were fed to camels as supplemental foodstuff. The study also presents some thoughts on long-distance travel involving camels. Based on several historical itineraries from the 17th and 18th century, it is possible to calculate likely rates of travel per day and time out for rest days, suggesting how long it may have taken to cover some of the distances mentioned in the Persepolis texts.


The Decipherment of Linear Elamite Writing

Desset, François, Kambiz Tabibzadeh, Matthieu Kervran, Gian Pietro Basello & Gianni Marchesi. 2022. The Decipherment of Linear Elamite Writing. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie 112 (1), 11-60.

Linear Elamite writing was used in southern Iran in the late 3rd/early 2nd millennium BCE (ca. 2300–1880 BCE). First discovered during the French excavations at Susa from 1903 onwards, it has so far resisted decipherment. The publication of eight inscribed silver beakers in 2018 provided the materials and the starting point for a new attempt; its results are presented in this paper. A full description and analysis of Linear Elamite of writing, employed for recording the Elamite language, is given here for the first time, together with a discussion of Elamite phonology and the biscriptualism that characterizes this language in its earliest documented phase.

Articles Books

Lycia and Persia in the Xanthos stele

Hyland, John. 2021. Between Amorges and Tissaphernes: Lycia and Persia in the Xanthos stele. In Annick Payne, Šárka Velhartická & Jorit Wintjes (eds.), Beyond all boundaries: Anatolia in the first millennium BC (Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 295), 257–278. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.

The Xanthos stele, a multilingual Lycian dynastic monument of the late 5th century BCE, testifies to the importance of diplomatic interaction between Xanthos’ rulers and Achaemenid Persian administrators in western Anatolia. Yet the stele’s Persian references are unevenly and selectively distributed between its Lycian and Lycian B inscriptions, and entirely absent from its Greek epigram. Amorges, a satrap’s son turned rebel, appears briefly in the Lycian and Lycian B texts, but scholars debate whether they present him as friend or foe of Xanthos; in contrast, the final section of the Lycian text celebrates the famous satrap Tissaphernes as an ally of Xanthos, but the Lycian B omits him entirely. This paper analyzes the stele’s Persian content and proposes that its designers added the material on Tissaphernes in a late stage of composition, trying to exploit his patronage in the context of local dynastic politics.


The whole book is open access and can be downloaded from the link of the book title above.


Translations from Greek into Middle Persian as
Repatriated Knowledge

Zakeri, Mohsen. 2022. Translations from Greek into Middle Persian as Repatriated Knowledge. In: Dimitri Gutas (ed.), Why Translate Science? Documents from Antiquity to the 16th Century in the Historical West (Bactria to the Atlantic), 52-169. Leiden & Boston: Brill.