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Estudios Iranios y Turanios (Vol. 5)

Estudios Iranios y Turanios 2023, Vol. 5, has now been published. The whole issue is dedicated to the Avestan, Middle Persian (Pahlavi) and Ossetian Studies.

  • Alberto Cantera: The interpretatio iranica of Heterograms in Book Pahlavi: The Case of YTYBWN- “To Sit Down, to Dwell and to Set” and Some Related Problems
  • Götz König: Nicht-avestische Texte im Xorde Avesta: die Texte des Danksagens
  • Jaime Martínez Porro: Text and Context of the Yasna ī Rapiθβin
  • Paolo Ognibene: About Some Kabardian Loanwords in Ossetic
  • Éric Pirart: La vejez avéstica
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The Steppe Frontiers of Pārsa

Ferrario, Marco. 2023. The steppe frontiers of Pārsa: Negotiating the Northeastern borderlands of the Teispid-Achaemenid Empire. Journal of Ancient Civilizations 38(2). 129-189.

The present paper seeks to offer a new interpretative scenario against the background of which to assess the dynamics underlying the interactions between the Achaemenid Empire (starting with Cyrus’ conquest of Central Asia) and the peoples of the steppes, which presided over the formation of what it is usually referred to as the frontier of the Empire itself in Baktria, Sogdiana, and Chorasmia.

To this end, a set of literary sources comes under critical scrutiny, beginning with Herodotus and Strabo. The reason for this is that, despite the increase of the available evidentiary record, their interpretation in strongly oppositional terms (steppes versus sown) of the above-sketched process has been, and continues to be, very influential. In a second step, archaeological data and comparative evidence of a historical-ethnographic nature will be added, with the overarching aim of framing the narrative of the classical sources into a broader and, as it shall be argued, more proper social, economic, and ecological context.

The outcome of such a study will hopefully be a more nuanced and complex picture of a crucial phase of Achaemenid history in Central Asia. In the light of the framework presented in the following pages, while on the one hand the driving force and organizational capacity of the newly formed Empire will emerge as decisive elements in the establishment of a new, distinctive, “imperial space” north of Bactr(i)a, on the other hand, the role of local communities in negotiating the modalities of their integration within the networks resulting from the birth and expansion of Achaemenid rule in the area will appear as having been of no less paramount importance.

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Avestan-Middle Persian tense mismatches

Peschl, Benedikt. 2023. Avestan-Middle Persian tense mismatches in the Zand and the Middle Persian “performative preterite.” Indogermanische Forschungen 128(1). 9–64.

This article addresses the issue of Avestan (Av.)/Middle Persian (MP) tense mismatches that are occasionally found in the Zand, the MP translation with commentary of the Avesta. While most of these mismatches turn out to be aspectually insignificant or illusory once examined more closely, some of them appear to illustrate the use of the MP preterite as a temporally unspecified perfective category, contrasting with its usual perception as a simple past. In accordance with a pattern found also in non-translational MP literature, the perfective usage of the preterite is argued to be present in the translation of a series of Av. performative utterances in Visperad 3 (the “installation of the Av. priestly college”). Moreover, its use can be observed when the Zand depicts two punctual events as temporally coinciding within a timeless (gnomic) statement. Proceeding from these observations, I discuss the expression of performativity in MP on a more general level. The observations shared in this article support the view that, if considered diligently, the older Zand texts have the potential to contribute valuable data to the linguistic description of MP. Conversely, the article shows how paying close attention to the MP translators’ use of verbal forms may inform our interpretation of the Zand.

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On Middle Persian hassār and hassārīh

Fattori, Marco. 2023. A note on Pahlavi lexicography: Middle Persian hassār, hassārīh. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 1–12.

This article deals with the identification and interpretation of two rare Middle Persian words. Firstly, some attestations of the as yet unrecognized word <hs’lyh> hassārīh are discussed, showing that it means “direction”. Then, a semantic analysis of its underived counterpart hassār is carried out, as a basis for an etymological proposal. Finally, it is argued that hassār descends from Old Persian *haçā-sāra- “(having the head) in the same direction”, and a possible reconstruction of the semantic development of the word is provided.

Article’s abstract
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Staging the Body of the Lord of the Sevenfold World

Canepa, Matthew P. 2023. Staging the Body of the Lord of the Sevenfold World. Methectic Spaces and Chiasmatic Viewing in Sasanian Iran. In Michele Bacci, Gohar Grigoryan & Manuela Studer-Karlen (eds.), Staging the Ruler’s Body in Medieval Cultures: A Comparative Perspective, 25–51. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

This chapter explores the visibility and materiality of the body of the sovereign as a technology of power in Sasanian Iran. Through analysis of a broad array of objects, structures, and landscapes that the royal image inflected, including the living king himself, it approaches the king’s body as both a perceptible and conceptual phenomenon that manifested not only corporeally but also through a continuum of visual, material, spatial, and environmental contexts. These range from the interior spaces of palaces to the very landscape of the Iranian Plateau. The Sasanian king’s audience halls and thrones were legendary in the late antique world, and their memory lingered in medieval European and Islamic ecumenes long after the fall of the empire. Appropriately, the theatrical staging of the king’s body in audience halls and on thrones will be an important focus, as will the attendant architectural, ceremonial, and technological supports, which were deployed to shape and augment the experience of the sovereign’s sacred presence. Moreover, we will consider the role of portable objects – such as textiles, precious-metal vessels, as well as mass media like seals and coinage – in bringing the image of the king before the eyes of his power bases and his populace. Our goal, therefore, is not simply to re-examine the evidence of such phenomena but to reconstruct a broader visuality of power centred on the king’s image.

This is an open access publication and is available for free download on the publisher's website.
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‘The Coals Which Were His Guardians…’:

Vevaina, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw. 2022. ‘The coals which were his guardians…’: The hermeneutics of Heraclius’ Persian campaign and a faint trace of the ‘Last Great War’ in Zoroastrian literature. In Phil Booth & Mary Whitby (eds.), Mélanges: James Howard-Johnston (Travaux et mémoires 26), 467–490. Paris: Association des Amis du centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance.

We had previously announced the volume. This article is now available from the author’s academia page.

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Neo-Elamite Grain Procurement

Gorris, Elynn. 2023. “Don’t Let the Boats Pass!” Neo-Elamite Grain Procurement in Times of Famine and Drought. Iranian Studies 56(3), 439-456.

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.

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Fulayj: A Sasanian to Early Islamic Fort in the Sohar Hinterland

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: an oblique aerial view looking across the structure to the north‑east (photograph by Davit Naskidashvili)

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.

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Notes on the Xorde Avesta V

König, Götz. 2023. Notizen zum Xorde Avesta V: Das Avesta-Pahlavi Ms. T12 betrachtet im Rahmen der historischen Veränderungen des Xorde Avesta. Berkeley Working Papers in Middle Iranian Philology 1(2). 1–32.

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.

Abstract
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Servant or Slave

Sheikh, Hossein. 2023. Servant or slave: The Old Persian words Bandaka, Marika and Daha and their cognates in Middle Iranian languages. In: Jeannine Bischoff, Stephan Conermann and Marion Gymnich (eds.), Naming, defining, phrasing strong asymmetrical dependencies: A textual approach, 55-67. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.

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.