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Les Céramiques Buff de Nishapur

Samavaki, Sheila. 2021. Les Céramiques Buff de Nishapur: L’étude iconographique des céramiques polychromes à décor figuratif, IXe-Xe siècles. Editions KPD.

En 1935, les fouilles entreprises par les chercheurs du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York ont révélé une série de céramiques très caractéristiques dans les ruines de la ville médiévale de Nishapur au nord-est de l’Iran. Ces céramiques étaient particulièrement distinctives pour leur représentation de scènes à figures humaines, animales et d’oiseaux, souvent sur un fond jaune vif, agrémenté des couleurs vert, noir et parfois rouge. Du fait de la couleur beige-jaunâtre de leur pâte, elles ont été appelées céramiques animate buff ware ou céramiques polychromes (rangârang en persan) pour la variété des couleurs. Elles ont été attribuées à Nishapur aux IXe-Xe siècle.

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Agreeable News from Persia

Potts, Daniel. 2022. Agreeable News from Persia: Iran in the Colonial and Early Republican American Press, 1712-1848. Wiesbaden: Springer.

Eighteenth and nineteenth century European, British and American newspapers constitute a rich and largely untapped source of contemporary, often eyewitness accounts of historical events and opinions concerning Iran from the late Safavid (1712) through the Qajar (c. 1797-1920) period. This study collects and annotates thousands of articles published in the Colonial and early Republican American newspapers, from the first mention of events in Persia in the American press (1712) to the death of Mohammad Shah (1848), unlocking for the first time a wealth of information on Iran and its place in the world during the 18th and early 19th century.

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Persia Portrayed

Potts, Daniel. 2022. Persia portrayed: Envoys to the West, 1600-1842. Washington: Mage Publishers.

Persians who travelled to the West during the Safavid and early Qajar period (early 17th-to-early 19th century) have received little attention. This book memorializes them in portraiture and pulls them back from historical obscurity. It brings together twenty-nine images—drawings, paintings, etchings, lithographs and even a silhouette—done in Boston, Geneva, London, Paris, Prague, Saratoga Springs, St. Petersburg, Vienna and Washington DC, between 1601 and 1842. In the days before photography, portraits commemorated their visits to distant capitals. Some of the subjects were members of Persia’s élite, some from modest backgrounds, and all were on a mission of one sort or another. Today, the images offer us rare glimpses of the dress, accoutrements and regalia that so distinguished the travelers. Subjects of fascination for both contemporary artists and a public intrigued by all things Persian, the sitters in these works left an indelible mark in the consciousness of Western observers, only a few of whom ever journeyed themselves to the Land of the Lion and the Sun.

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Jews of Iran: A Photographic Chronicle

Sarbakhshian, Hassan, Lior B. Sternfeld & Parvaneh Vahidmanesh. 2022. Jews of Iran: A Photographic Chronicle (Dimyonot : Jews and the Cultural Imagination 13). Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

This book reveals one of the most beautiful and complicated untold stories of our time.

Westerners often imagine Jews in Iran as a captive and oppressed community, alienated within their home nation yet restricted from leaving it. The reality is much more complex. Jews of Iran is a photographic journey through twenty-first-century Iran, providing a unique view of the country’s Jewish community in situations typically unknown to the Western world. Photojournalist Hassan Sarbakhshian spent two years living among Iran’s Jewish communities, joining them for holidays, family gatherings, and travels, and—with the help of fellow journalist Parvaneh Vahidmanesh—documenting how they lived. Moving beyond the well-known state and regional confrontations, the photos that Sarbakhshian took tell a broader story about a community of people who live in the figurative and literal middle. They are Iranian nationals by birth and by choice, and they are Jews by religious affiliation. Full loyalty to their country is expected, even as their ancestral homeland is at odds with their political homeland. This photographic chronicle illuminates the grey zone that they inhabit.

Featuring over one hundred full-color photos, contextualized with extensive annotations, and accompanied by a substantive introduction written by historian Lior B. Sternfeld, Jews of Iran calls into question Western views of this religious community.

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Xenophon’s Anabasis: A Socratic History

Brennan, Shane. 2022. Xenophon’s Anabasis: A Socratic History. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Xenophon’s Anabasis has engaged and entertained readers from antiquity to the present day. Through his telling of the story of Cyrus the Younger’s attempt on the Persian throne and its aftermath, Xenophon integrates many of the prominent themes and concerns in his writings, including leadership, panhellenism, Sparta and apologia.

Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, Brennan offers a fresh reading of the text which originates in a broad-ranging consideration of Xenophon’s aims in writing the book some thirty years after the event. The central argument brings the presence of Socrates into relief and demonstrates how the author, representing himself in the story as a model pupil of the philosopher, perpetuates Socratic teachings and values through ‘Xenophon’s’ leadership. Ultimately, Anabasis is revealed to be a ‘Socratic history’, a narrative rooted in a historical event or period and in which the author embeds a reflection of the philosopher and his values.

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The A9 Aramaic Manuscript from Ancient Bactria Revisited

Lemaire, André. 2022. The A9 Aramaic Manuscript from Ancient Bactria Revisited. In: Christopher Rollston, Susanna Garfein & Neal H. Walls (eds.), Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honor of P. Kyle McCarter Jr. (Ancient Near East Monographs 27), 357-366. Atlanta: SBL Press.

This contribution revisits the problems regarding the interpretation of one interesting text from Achaemenid Bactria, A9, and proposes a tentative reading and translation which varies from the one offered by the first editors (Joseph Naveh and Shaul Shaked). The said text records a transaction between a certain Bagavant and his wife Vartan (wrtn).

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Baghdād

Scheiner, Jens & Isabel Toral (eds.). 2022. Baghdād: From its beginnings to the 14th century (Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 1 The Near and Middle East 166). Leiden: Brill.

Baghdād: From its Beginnings to the 14th Century offers an exhaustive handbook that covers all possible themes connected to the history of this urban complex in Iraq, from its origins rooted in late antique Mesopotamia up to the aftermath of the Mongol invasion in 1258.
Against the common perception of a city founded 762 in a vacuum, which, after experiencing a heyday in a mythical “golden age” under the early ʿAbbāsids, entered since 900 a long period of decline that ended with a complete collapse by savage people from the East in 1258, the volume emphasizes the continuity of Baghdād’s urban life, and shows how it was marked by its destiny as caliphal seat and cultural hub.

From the publisher’s website
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Mélanges: James Howard-Johnston

Booth, Phil & Mary Whitby (eds.). 2022. Mélanges: James Howard-Johnston (Travaux et mémoires 26). Paris: Association des Amis du centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance.

Apart from a brief stint as a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, in 1968-9, James Howard-Johnston spent his entire academic career at Oxford University. After a period as Junior Research Lecturer at Christ Church from 1966-71, he was then University Lecturer in Byzantine Studies and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College until his retirement almost forty years later in 2009. In the mid-2000s he served briefly as interim president of Corpus. From 1972 to 1987 he was also passionately involved in local politics, serving as an Oxford City Councillor and Oxfordshire County Councillor. His retirement from politics was accompanied by a stream of publications that has continued to the present day.

Throughout his career, James cultivated a number of interests, for example, the political and military history of Byzantium, the Eurasian steppe, and the Sassanid empire; Byzantine historiography; medieval law and commerce; and, perhaps most importantly, the history of warfare, and in particular the “world crisis” that dramatically and permanently reorganized the Middle East during the seventh century. Readers of James’s bibliography through 2022, which we include at the beginning of this volume, will perceive the simultaneous cultivation of all these interests, but also a growing preoccupation with the seventh century, which intensified from the 1990s onward and culminated in two masterpieces of scholarship produced during his retirement-or, as James would put it in his typical self-deprecating style, his “defuncation.” The first, Witnesses to a world crisis, represents the distillation of many years of deep reflection on the various sources of seventh-century political history, as well as a profound reflection on the rise of Islam and the Arab conquests. The second (of which Witnesses is in many ways the prequel), The Last Great War of Antiquity, is now the first comprehensive history of the final conflict between the Roman and Iranian empires, a great subject of which James has long been the acknowledged master.

Some related contributions to the Iranian Studies in this volume:

Ainslie, Roger, Mohammad Arman Ershadi & Davit Naskidashvili: Qalʿeh Kharabeh in northern Iran: a Sasanian military tent city for ten thousand mounted soldiers?

Booth, Phil: Egypt under the Sasanians (619–29): “stability, continuity, and tolerance”?

Greenwood, Tim: Adontz, Armenia and Iran in late antiquity.

Gyselen, Rika: La géographie administrative de l’Empire sassanide: ce que le Šahrestānīha-ye Ērānšahr ne dit pas.

McLynn, Neil: Ammianus Marcellinus and the making of Persian strategy.

Taylor, David G. K.: The Syriac version of Strategios’ History of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem.

Vevaina, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw: The Coals Which Were His Guardians…’: The Hermeneutics of Heraclius’ Persian Campaign and a Faint Trace of the ‘Last Great War’ in Zoroastrian Literature.

Wiesehöfer, Josef: Alfred von Gutschmid, Theodor Nöldeke and the beginnings of the Sasanian Empire.

Zychowicz-Coghill, Edward: The Byzantinist of Isfahan: Ḥamza ibn al-Ḥasan on Greek and Roman history.

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In Search of Iranian Continuity: From the Zoroastrian Tradition to the Islamic Mysticism

Azarnouche, Samra (ed.). 2022. À la recherche de la continuité iranienne: de la tradition zoroastrienne à la mystique islamique. Recueil de textes autour de l’œuvre de Marijan Molé (1924-1963). Turnhout: Brepols.

The work of the Polish-Slovenian Iranian scholar Marijan Molé (1924-1963) has had a profound influence on the religious sciences that can be observed to this day. In barely fifteen years (1948-1963), he was able to give unprecedented impetus to Iranian studies, thanks to the meticulous study of corpora ranging from the Avesta and Middle Persian Zoroastrian literature to treatises on Islamic mysticism, including Persian epics and mythical gestures. Too soon interrupted, the vast project that he had begun during his years of study in Krakow and which he pursued in Paris and Tehran had as its main axis the uncovering of a unitary system that would underpin the evolution of a religious doctrine over the long term, an “Iranian continuity”.

The recent discovery of his Nachlass (IRHT and BULAC, Paris) provides us with the opportunity to take stock of his legacy and to try to highlight the originality of his approach and his contribution to the history of ideas and to the intellectual debate on the religions of Iran, by identifying both the achievements and the dead ends, the innovations and the extensions.

The present volume gathers the contributions on Zoroastrianism and Islamic mysticism, presented at the international study day entitled “Between Mazdeism and Islam”, dedicated to the work of Marijan Molé, which was held on 24 June 2016 in Paris.

Table of Contents

  • Chronologie de la vie de Marijan Molé (1924-1963)
  • Bibliographie de Marijan Molé
  • Gianroberto Scarcia: “Souvenir de Marijan Molé”
  • Anna Krasnowolska: “Marijan Molé’s Early Works and his Study of Persian Epics
  • Jean Kellens: “1956-1964: Le printemps des études gâthiques”
  • Philippe Swennen: “Marijan Molé à l’aube du nouveau comparatisme indo-iranien”
  • Shaul Shaked: “A Zoroastrian Anthropological Theology”
  • Antonio Panaino: “Le gētīg dans le mēnōg et le système chiliadique mazdéen selon la réflexion de Marijan Molé
  • Pierre lory: “Marijan Molé, ‘Azîz Nasafî et l’Homme Parfait”
  • Michel Tardieu: “Les Mystiques musulmans de Marijan Molé: contextes et enjeux”.
    • Appendice: Note brève sur le messalianisme
  • Florence Somer: “Marijan Molé et la «tradition jamaspienne»: le traité apocalyptique inédit des Aḥkām ī Jāmāsp”
  • Alexey Khismatulin: “Destiny of the Unpublished Works by Marijan Molé on the Naqshbandiya”.
    • Appendice: Description of “fonds Molé” (IRHT, Paris)
  • Appendice I: Marijan Molé: “Les origines de la geste sistanienne”
  • Appendice II: Correspondances
  • Appendice III: Description du fonds Marijan Molé (BULAC)
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Zoroastrians of Iran: A History of Transformation and Survival

Kestenberg Amighi, Jaenet. 2022. Zoroastrians of Iran: A History of Transformation and Survival. First. Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers.

Zoroastrianism is both an ancient and still practiced religion. At its height it was the state religion of the Sasanian empire (224 to 651 AD) that ruled in the land of Persia. Arab conquest of the area destroyed that empire and a multitude eventually converted to Islam. Under Islamic rule Zoroastrians lived under severe restrictions, persecution while paying burdensome taxes. Many converted to Islam to escape these conditions and so Zoroastrian numbers dwindled. By 1850 no more than 8000 lived in their original homeland. Those who survived did see some periods of prosperity and eventually thrived under the secularizing rule of Reza Shah Pahlavi (1925-41) and his son (1941-79) who promoted an Iranian nationalism that embraced the Zoroastrian heritage. The main challenge to Zoroastrian persistence was the increasing secularism of society. With the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran once again the nation’s Zoroastrians found themselves subject to myriad discriminations, even their touch deemed polluting. Islam permeated Iran to a degree not seen before. The present work offers a unique socio-political history of the challenges faced by the Zoroastrian community from the 19th to 21st centuries as they confronted and adapted to the dramatic changes before them. The author, Anthropologist Janet Kestenberg Amighi lived and researched among her Zoroastrian in-laws in Iran from 1971-1978 and subsequently visited post-revolutionary Iran several times. This work is based on scholarly research as well as over 120 interviews with Zoroastrians, amusing personal experiences and the knowledge and experiences of her collaborator Bahman Moradian, an Iranian Zoroastrian scholar and community activist. Their collaboration provides varied insights and analyses of the socio-cultural and political change we see happening over the decades. The diverse Zoroastrian community perspectives are well represented.