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Slings and slingers in ancient Iran

Potts, Daniel. 2020. Slings and slingers in ancient Iran. In Stephan Blum, Turan Efe, Tobias Kienlin & Ernst Pernicka (eds.), From past to present. Studies in memory of Manfred O. Korfmann (Studia Troica Monographien 11). Bonn: Verlag Dr. Rudolf Habelt GMBH.

In 1973 Manfred Korfmann wrote, ›it is clear that archaeological work in the future must pay more attention to the sling as a prehistoric weapon of major significance, not only in the Near East but also elsewhere in the world. Even with our present limited knowledge it is clear that the slinger and the archer were equals for thousands of years‹ (Korfmann 1973, 42). Although slings and slingers in ancient Mesopotamia have been studied (e.g. Eichler 1983; Schrakamp 2010, 19), no study specifically dedicated to the use of the sling in ancient Iran has, to my knowledge, ever been published and it is my hope that this modest effort would have pleased Manfred Korfmann, whose attention to the topic (Korfmann 1972; 1973) was the inspiration for my own foray into this fascinating field.

Introduction
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Being Mithraist

Mazhjoo, Nina. 2020. Being Mithraist: Embracing ‘other’ in the Roman cultural milieu. In Aaron W. Irvin (ed.), Community and identity at the edges of the classical world, 139-153. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

The Mithraic bull-slaying scene

This chapter suggests a new approach to the study of Mithraic visual language and the cultic iconography of the god in particular. It argues that the Roman Mithraists were enthusiastic for stressing the Persian provenance of their god via cultic iconography and visual language. The chapter takes a closer look at the Mithraic tauroctony and the Roman representation of the god. It examines the cultic imagery of Mithras to explore how the Roman Mithraists incorporated the Greek imagery of “handsome Oriental”. The chapter demonstrates that the Roman imagery of Mithras was a conscious choice that the Roman Mithraists made to historicize their novel cult. It proposes that the Roman imagery of the god Mithras should be deciphered as a deliberate cultural borrowing in relation to the cultural strategy and socio‐political context of the Roman Empire. The Roman mystery cult of Mithras strongly relied on Roman attitudes and romantic visions of Persia and the Parthians.

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The Conceptual Image of the Planets in Ancient Iran and the Process of Their Demonization

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. The conceptual image of the planets in ancient Iran and the process of their demonization: Visual materials and models of inclusion and exclusion in Iranian history of knowledge. Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 28. 359–389.

The Moon God (Klimova plate, Perm region, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg S-43)

The present contribution offers an overview of the main problems concerning the representation of the planets in the pre-Islamic Iranian world, the origin of their denominations, their astral roles and the reasons behind their demonization in the Zoroastrian and Manichaean frameworks. This is a preliminary attempt to resume the planetary iconography and iconology in western and eastern Iranian sources, involving also external visual data, such as those coming from Dunhuang and the Chinese world. The article offers an intellectual journey into a net of mutual cultural and spiritual relations, focusing on the image of the heaven (and of its celestial beings), thereby proposing a new synthesis and highlighting a number of intercultural contaminations.

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The Borazjan Monuments

Zehbari, Zohreh. 2020. The Borazjan monuments: A synthesis of past and recent works. Arta 2020.002.

Since the 1970s, three Achaemenid monuments have been excavated at the sites of Charkhab, Bardak-e Siah and Sang-e Siah in the area of Borazjan, the capital city of Dashtestan, the largest county of Bushehr province in southern Iran. In this paper, the architecture of these monumental structures and other finds at the three sites are examined, with particular attention to chronology

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The Neo-Aramaic Verbal Root GŠQ ‘to Look’ and its Middle Iranian Origin

Mutzafi, Hezy. 2020. The Neo-Aramaic verbal root GŠQ ‘to Look’ and its Middle Iranian origin. Le Muséon 133 (1-2), 1-12.

The Neo-Aramaic verbal root gšq ‘to look’, known since the 19th century to occur in the Christian NENA (North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic) dialects of Urmi and Salmas in Iranian Azerbaijan, has thus far remained without an established, or at least plausible, etymology. The etymology proposed in this paper considers gšq to be inherited from an earlier NENA layer, in which it was a denominative derivative of a noun akin to Mandaic gušqa ‘spy’, a Middle Iranian loanword. This etymology is buttressed by parallel cases in Neo-Aramaic and other languages of the world as regards semantic changes and affinities between the meanings ‘to spy’ and ‘to look’, as well as similar processes of word-formation in NENA, namely denominative verbs derived from borrowed nouns and inflected in the neo-pa”el verbal pattern.

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The Name of the Camel

Redard, Céline, 2020. Le nom du chameau dans les langues iraniennes anciennes. In Damien Agut-Labordère & Bérangère Redon (eds.), Les vaisseaux du désert et des steppes: Les camélidés dans l’Antiquité (Camelus dromedarius et Camelus bactrianus). Lyon: MOM Éditions.

This book is available open access from the link above.

During the first millennium BCE, the dromedary and, more marginally, the camel began to impose their tall silhouettes on the roads of the Middle East and Egypt. Gathered in two workshops, in Lyon then Nanterre, sixteen archaeologists and historians have tried to assess this camel revolution. From Xinjiang to the Libyan Desert, the increasingly intensive use of the old-world camelids has indeed disrupted the fields of caravan transport but also agriculture, redesigning the trade routes, increasing the export capacities of oases, opening up previously isolated areas. Gradually becoming a critical agent of the economic systems of the desert or semi-desert regions, the camels remain at the same time associated with nomadic populations whose expertise is essential to breed and train these large animals.

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Religious Imagery in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia

Shenkar, Michael. 2019. Religious imagery and image-making in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia. In Christiane Gruber (ed.), The image debate: Figural representation in Islam and across the world. London: Gingko.

The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World is a collection of thirteen essays which examine the controversy surrounding the use of images in Islamic and other religious cultures and seek to redress some of the misunderstandings that have arisen. Written by leading academics from the United States, Australia, Turkey, Israel and the United Kingdom, the book opens with an introduction by the editor Christiane Gruber, who sets the subject in context with a detailed examination of the debates over idols and the production of figural images in Islamic traditions. Twelve further articles are divided into three sections: the first deals with pre-modern Islamic practices and anxieties with image-making; the second addresses similar issues in Judaism, in Christianity during the Byzantine period, in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia, and in Hindu and Buddhist contexts in South Asia; and the third brings the reader back to Islamic lands with five articles examining traditions of figural representation in the modern and contemporary periods.

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Magic in Ancient Iran

Jong, Albert de. 2019. Iran. In David Frankfurter (ed.), Guide to the study of ancient magic (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 189). Leiden: Brill.

In the midst of academic debates about the utility of the term “magic” and the cultural meaning of ancient words like mageia or khesheph, this Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic seeks to advance the discussion by separating out three topics essential to the very idea of magic. The three major sections of this volume address (1) indigenous terminologies for ambiguous or illicit ritual in antiquity; (2) the ancient texts, manuals, and artifacts commonly designated “magical” or used to represent ancient magic; and (3) a series of contexts, from the written word to materiality itself, to which the term “magic” might usefully pertain.

The abstract for Albert de Jong’s chapter:

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Canon of Ancient Iranian Art

Colburn, Henry. 2020. The canon of ancient Iranian art: From grand narratives to local perspectives. In Amy Gansell and Ann Shafer (eds.), Testing the canon of ancient Near Eastern art and archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The canon of ancient Iranian art coalesced during the heyday of archaeological research in Iran during the 1950s and 1960s. Scholars sought to reconcile both excavated material from a series of type sites and unexcavated objects, with a sequence of historical and cultural phases from Proto-Elamite to Sasanian. Consequently, the canon has some notable weaknesses. First, the term “Iranian” can refer to geography or people, either of which excludes important material. Second, the periodization of the canon relies on Mesopotamian and Mediterranean history, which is not always a good fit for Iran. Third, the use of style to assign material to these periods relies on the problematic assumption that multiple artistic styles cannot coexist at the same time and place. This chapter argues that it is useful to adopt an approach that focuses instead on individual sites or micro-regions, thus better reflecting the richness and diversity of ancient Iranian art.

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Violence and the Mutilated Body in Achaemenid Iran

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2020. Violence and the Mutilated Body in Achaemenid Iran. In Garrett G. Fagan, Linda Fibiger, Mark Hudson, and Matthew Trundle (eds.), The Cambridge World History of Violence. Volume 1: The Prehistoric and Ancient Worlds. Cambridge.

Little thought per se has been given to women as agents of violence in antiquity, let alone to the role of the royal harem as the site of revenge-fuelled violence and murder. This chapter addresses this gap by exploring how royal women in the Persian Empire could be instruments of violence. While acknowledging the Greek obsession with this topos, it goes beyond the Western preoccupation with the harem as a site of Oriental decadence and attempts to put stories of women’s violence against women into its ancient Near Eastern context. It explores the mutilation of the body and is particularly focused on the Herodotean tale (which has genuine Persian roots) of the revenge mutilations of Amestris, wife of Xerxes I.