Category Archives: Books

Central Asian Textile Images

Gasparini, Mariachiara. 2019. Transcending patterns: Silk road cultural and artistic interactions through Central Asian textile images (Perspectives on the Global Past). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

In Transcending Patterns: Silk Road Cultural and Artistic Interactions through Central Asian Textiles, Mariachiara Gasparini investigates the origin and effects of a textile-mediated visual culture that developed at the heart of the Silk Road between the seventh and fourteenth centuries. Through the analysis of the Turfan Textile Collection in the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin and more than a thousand textiles held in collections worldwide, Gasparini discloses and reconstructs the rich cultural entanglements along the Silk Road, between the coming of Islam and the rise of the Mongol Empire, from the Tarim to Mediterranean Basin. Exploring in detail the iconographic transfer between different agents and different media from Central Asian caves to South Italian churches, the author depicts and describes the movement and exchange of portable objects such as sculpture, wall painting, and silk fragments across the Asian continent and across the ages.

Mariachiara Garsparini received a PhD in transcultural studies and global art history from Heidelberg University, Germany. Her research focuses on Central Asian material culture, wall painting, artist’s praxis, and Sino-Iranian and Turko-Mongol interactions. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Asia. Since 2015 she has been teaching Asian art in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Between Boston and Bombay

Rose, Jenny. 2019. Between Boston and Bombay: Cultural and Commercial encounters of Yankees and Parsis, 1771–1865. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

A few years after the American declaration of independence, the first American ships set sail to India. The commercial links that American merchant mariners established with the Parsis of Bombay contributed significantly to the material and intellectual culture of the early Republic in ways that have not been explored until now. This book maps the circulation of goods, capital and ideas between Bombay Parsis and their contemporaries in the northeastern United States, uncovering a surprising range of cultural interaction. Just as goods and gifts from the Zoroastrians of India quickly became an integral part of popular culture along the eastern seaboard of the U.S., so their newly translated religious texts had a considerable impact on American thought. Using a wealth of previously unpublished primary sources, this work presents the narrative of American-Parsi encounters within the broader context of developing global trade and knowledge.

Table of Contents

  • Arrivals: Parsis, Pilgrims and Puritans
  • “A Nice Morality” (1771–1798)
  • A Shawl Handkerchief and a Cabinet of Curiosities (1799–1806)
  • Merchant Princes, Missionaries and a Man-of-War (1807–1815)
  • A Passage to and from India (1816–1835)

Iran and the Caucasus

Volume 23, issue 4 of Iran and the Caucasus:

Iran and the Caucasus 23(4).

Continue reading Iran and the Caucasus

Three Zoroastrian Pahlavi Texts

Kolesnikov, Aliy Ivanovich. 2019. The holy books of Zoroastrianism: Transliteration, transcription, commentary and translation of three Pahlavi texts (Classics of Russian Oriental Studies). St. Petersburg: Nauka.

This volume includes a commentary and translation of three Middle Persian texts. The first is the Fifth book of Dēnkard, part of a compendium of Zoroastrian religious knowledge from the Sassanian Iran, compiled in the IX-X centuries according to the earlier sources. The Book V contains a short account of human history up to the time of Zoroaster. The second text is a fragment from the Fourth Book of Dēnkard, which sets out the history of the preservation of Zoroastrian liturgical books in ancient Iran under the auspices role of the Persian kings in the defense of Zoroastrianism, beginning with Darius III (336-31 BCE) and ending with Xosrō I (590-628 CE). The third text is called Ardā Wirāz-Nāmag “the Book of the Righteous Wirāz”, compiled at the early Islamic time, dating back to the Sasanian era. The translation of this literary monument into Russian is accompanied by extensive commentaries.

In Original:

Колесниковым, Алий Иванович. 2019. Священные книги зороастризма. Транслитерация, транскрипция, комментированный перевод трех пехлевийских текстов (Классика отечественного востоковедения). СПб.: Наука.

Persian imperial policy and local sanctuaries

Achenbach, Reinhard (ed.). 2019. Persische Reichspolitik und lokale Heiligtümer. Beiträge einer Tagung des Exzellenzclusters «Religion und Politik in Vormoderne und Moderne» vom 24.–26. Februar 2016 in Münster. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Der Sammelband präsentiert die Beiträge der internationalen Tagung des Exzellenzclusters „Religion und Politik in Vormoderne und Moderne“ 2016 in Münster zur Religionspolitik der Achaimeniden und der Rolle ihrer Lokalheiligtümer. In welchem Maße dienten die Lokalreligionen zur Stabilisierung der politischen Verhältnisse bzw. trugen sie zur Destabilisierung bei? In welcher Weise unterstützten die Heiligtümer eine Wahrung lokaler Identität und wie weit waren sie aufgrund ökonomischer und äußerer Machtverhältnisse auf das Wohlwollen der Perser angewiesen? Welchen Einfluss hatten die Eidesrituale der Symmachien auf die Stellung der Heiligtümer der gewährleistenden Gottheiten? Wie wirkte sich die wachsende Kenntnis über die Vielfalt der Religionen
im Perserreich auf die Politik aus und wie reagierten unterschiedliche Ethnien hierauf? Wie kann man Konvergenzen und Divergenzen kultureller Entwicklungen und weltanschaulicher
Vorstellungen in der Achaimenidenzeit besser erfassen und beschreiben?

To see ToC click here.

Ancient Knowledge Networks

Robson, Eleanor. 2019. Ancient knowledge networks: A social geography of cuneiform scholarship in first-millennium Assyria and Babylonia. London: UCL Press.

This book is currently available as open access from the publisher's website.

Ancient Knowledge Networks is a book about how knowledge travels, in minds and bodies as well as in writings. It explores the forms knowledge takes and the meanings it accrues, and how these meanings are shaped by the peoples who use it.

Addressing the relationships between political power, family ties, religious commitments and literate scholarship in the ancient Middle East of the first millennium BC, Eleanor Robson focuses on two regions where cuneiform script was the predominant writing medium: Assyria in the north of modern-day Syria and Iraq, and Babylonia to the south of modern-day Baghdad. She investigates how networks of knowledge enabled cuneiform intellectual culture to endure and adapt over the course of five world empires until its eventual demise in the mid-first century BC. In doing so, she also studies Assyriological and historical method, both now and over the past two centuries, asking how the field has shaped and been shaped by the academic concerns and fashions of the day. Above all, Ancient Knowledge Networks is an experiment in writing about ‘Mesopotamian science’, as it has often been known, using geographical and social approaches to bring new insights into the intellectual history of the world’s first empires.

Eleanor Robson is Professor of Ancient Middle Eastern History at UCL.

Persian Royal–Judaean Elite Engagements

Silverman, Jason. 2019. Persian Royal–Judaean Elite Engagements in the Early Teispid and Achaemenid Empire: The King’s Acolytes (The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies). T&T Clark.

Jason Silverman presents a timely and necessary study, advancing the understanding of Achaemenid ideology and Persian Period Judaism. While the Achaemenid Persian Empire (c. 550–330 BCE) dwarfed all previous empires of the Ancient Near East in both size and longevity, the royal system that forged and preserved this civilisation remains only rudimentarily understood, as is the imperial and religious legacy bequeathed to future generations. In response to this deficit, Silverman provides a critically sophisticated and interdisciplinary model for comparative studies.
While the Achaemenids rebuilt the Jerusalem temple, Judaean literature of the period reflects tensions over its Persian re-establishment, demonstrating colliding religious perspectives. Although both First Zechariah (1–8) and Second Isaiah (40–55) are controversial, the greater imperial context is rarely dealt with in depth; both books deal directly with the temple’s legitimacy, and this ties them intimately to kings’ engagements with cults. Silverman explores how the Achaemenid kings portrayed their rule to subject minorities, the ways in which minority elites reshaped this ideology, and how long this impact lasted, as revealed through the Judaean reactions to the restoration of the Jerusalem temple.

Among Digitized Manuscripts

Lit, L. W. Cornelius van. 2019. Among digitized manuscripts. Philology, codicology, paleography in a digital world (Handbuch Der Orientalistik 137). Leiden: Brill.

Working with manuscripts has become a digital affair. But, are there downsides to digital photos? And how can you take advantage of the incredible computing power you have literally at your fingertips? Cornelis van Lit explains in detail what happens when manuscript studies meets digital humanities. In Among Digitized Manuscripts you will learn why it is important to include a note on the photo quality in your codicological description, how to draw, collect, and publish glyphs of paleographic interest, what standards (such as TEI and IIIF) to abide by when transcribing a text, how to write custom software for image recognition, and much more. The leading principle is that learning a little about computers will already be of great benefit.

Brill | Among Digitized Manuscripts

This book is open access, and you can download it from https://t.co/sOq9jDCkiW?amp=1. Some more information is available from the author’s website. The author has also tweeted about this book, which I unrolled here.

Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt

Colburn, Henry P. 2019. Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt. Edinburgh University Press.

Previous studies have characterised Achaemenid rule of Egypt either as ephemeral and weak or oppressive and harsh. These characterisations, however, are based on the perceived lack of evidence for this period, filtered through ancient and modern preconceptions about the Persians.

Henry Colburn challenges these views by assembling and analyzing the archaeological remains from this period, including temples, tombs, irrigation works, statues, stelae, sealings, drinking vessels and coins. By looking at the decisions made about material culture – by Egyptians, Persians and others – it becomes possible to see both how the Persians integrated Egypt into their empire and the full range of experiences people had as a result.

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Empires of the sea

Wijk, Roy van. 2019. Contested hegemonies: Thebes, Athens and Persia in the Aegean of the 360s. In Rolf Strootman, Floris van den Eijnde & Roy van Wijk (eds.), Empires of the sea: Maritime power networks in world history (Cultural Interactions in the Mediterranean 4), 81–112. Leiden: Brill.

Empires of the Sea brings together studies of maritime empires from the Bronze Age to the Eighteenth Century. The volume aims to establish maritime empires as a category for the (comparative) study of premodern empires, and from a partly ‘non-western’ perspective. The book includes contributions on Mycenaean sea power, Classical Athens, the ancient Thebans, Ptolemaic Egypt, The Genoese Empire, power networks of the Vikings, the medieval Danish Empire, the Baltic empire of Ancien Régime Sweden, the early modern Indian Ocean, the Melaka Empire, the (non-European aspects of the) Portuguese Empire and Dutch East India Company, and the Pirates of Caribbean.

Source: Empires of the sea | Brill