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Women and Monarchy in Ancient Iran

Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly & Sabine Müller (eds.). 2021. The Routledge Companion to Women and Monarchy in the Ancient Mediterranean World. London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Portrait of Shapur III’s Wife. ca. 383-388 C.E. Onyx. BnF – Bibliothèque nationale de France (20.A.1)

This volume offers the first comprehensive look at the role of women in the monarchies of the ancient Mediterranean. It consistently addresses certain issues across all dynasties: title; role in succession; the situation of mothers, wives, and daughters of kings; regnant and co-regnant women; role in cult and in dynastic image; and examines a sampling of the careers of individual women while placing them within broader contexts. Written by an international group of experts, this collection is based on the assumption that women played a fundamental role in ancient monarchy, that they were part of, not apart from it, and that it is necessary to understand their role to understand ancient monarchies. This is a crucial resource for anyone interested in the role of women in antiquity.

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Books

Biruni

Malagaris, George. 2020. Biruni. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This book places Biruni in his historical and cultural context within the long-term history of medieval Eurasia. It outlines the course of Biruni’s life, clarifying key questions about his associations, travels, and patrons. Following an overview of Biruni’s chief interests, it details his major works to illustrate the breadth of Biruni’s output and his intellectual approach, especially his attention to language, esteem for knowledge, and commitment to objective truth. An account of his institutional context and relationships elucidates his friendships and rivalries, notably with Avicenna. The book also shows how varied paths of transmission affected the legacy of Biruni and its reception in global scientific and literary traditions. Finally, a timeline, list of key works, and detailed bibliographic essay will guide readers into further study of Biruni and his thought. This comprehensive overview of Biruni is based on the Arabic and Persian primary sources in the original languages using the best editions. The author has consulted scholarship in French, German, and Russian to draw conclusions and present up-to-date bibliographic references in a manner accessible to specialists and the general reader alike.

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Books

Aršāma and his World

Tuplin, Christopher J. & John Ma (eds.). 2020. Aršāma and his world: The Bodleian letters in context: Volume I: The Bodleian letters. -Volume II: Bullae and seals. -Volume III: Aršāma’s world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

During the Second World War the Bodleian Library in Oxford acquired a set of Aramaic letters, eight sealings, and the two leather bags in which the sealed letters were once stored. The letters concern the affairs of Aršāma, satrap of Egypt in the later fifth century. Taken with other material associated with him (mostly in Aramaic, Demotic Egyptian, and Akkadian), they illuminate the Achaemenid world of which Aršāama was a privileged member and evoke a wide range of social, economic, cultural, organizational, and political perspectives, from multi-lingual communication, storage and disbursement of resources, and satrapal remuneration, to cross-regional ethnic movement, long-distance travel, religious practice, and iconographic projection of ideological messages.

Particular highlights include a travel authorization (the only example of something implicit in numerous Persepolis documents), texts about the religious life of the Judaean garrison at Elephantine, Aršāma’s magnificent seal (a masterpiece of Achaemenid glyptic, inherited from a son of Darius I), and echoes of temporary disturbances to Persian management of Egypt. But what is also impressive is the underlying sense of systematic coherence founded on and expressed in the use of formal, even formalized, written communication as a means of control. The Aršāma dossier is not alone in evoking that sense, but its size, variety, and focus upon a single individual give it a unique quality.

Though this material has not been hidden from view, it has been insufficiently explored: it is the purpose of the three volumes of Aršāma and his World: The Bodleian Letters in Context to provide the fullest presentation and historical contextualization of this extraordinary cache yet attempted. Volume I presents and translates the letters alongside a detailed line-by-line commentary, while Volume II reconstructs the two seals that made the clay bullae that sealed the letters, with special attention to Aršāma’s magnificent heirloom seal. Volume III comprises a series of thematic essays which further explore the administrative, economic, military, ideological, religious, and artistic environment to which Aršāma and the letters belonged.

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Books

Qurʾānic allusions to Zoroastrian texts

Bitsch, Sebastian. 2020. Sengende Hitze, Eiseskälte oder Mond? Zum Echo zoroastrischer eschatologischer Vorstellungen am Beispiel des koranischen zamharīr. Der Islam 97(2). 313–366.

This article discusses eventual Qurʾānic allusions to Zoroastrian texts by using the example of zamharīr (Q 76:13). In the early tafsīr and ḥadīth-literature the term is most commonly understood as a piercing cold, which has frequently been interpreted as a punishment in hell. This idea, it is argued, has significant parallels to the concept of cold as a punishment in hell or to the absence of cold as a characteristic of paradise in the Avestan and Middle-Persian literature. In addition, Christian and Jewish texts that emphasize a similar idea and have not been discussed in research so far are brought into consideration. The article thus aims to contribute to the inclusion of Zoroastrian texts in locating the genesis of the Qurʾān – or early Islamic exegesis – in the “epistemic space ” of late antiquity.

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Books

An Iranian Vision of the Afterlife

Kłagisz, Mateusz M. 2020. An Iranian vision of the afterlife according to the Middle Persian “Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag.” ARAM Periodical 32 (Afterlife in the Ancient Near East). 421–461.

Detail from a Persian Zoroastrain Ardā Vīrāf-Nāme, 1789

This paper (re-)discusses the otherworld journey of the pious Zoroastrian clergyman Wīrāz, the subject of the Middle Persian opus entitled Ardā Wīrāz-nāmag (Book of Pious Wīrāz). The paper consists of 15 chapters. It begins by discussing the issue of the afterlife (Chapter 0); Chapter 1 provides general information regarding the text. In Chapter 2 the protagonist’s name and sobriquet are discussed. Chapter 3 considers the reasons for undertaking the journey. Chapter 4 presents the questions that need to be answered by Wīrāz. Chapter 5 considers relations between the protagonist and his community, followed by the myth of paradise lost (Chapter 6), the protagonist’s trial (Chapter 7), and preparations for the journey (Chapter 8). The author also discusses the dream visions themselves (Chapter 9), including the psychoactive drug used by the protagonist (Chapter 1 0), and the various afterlife locations, which Wīrāz visits (Chapters 11-16). Chapter 17 considers the nature of sin and retribution, as presented in the text, and in Chapter 18 the author discusses the end of the protagonist’s journey, before considering the journey as a whole as a rite of passage (Chapter 19), in relation to Grofs cartography of the psyche (Chapter 20).

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Judeo-Persian Writings: A Manifestation of Intellectual and Literary Life

Pirnazar, Nahid (ed.). 2021. Judeo-Persian Writings: A Manifestation of Intellectual and Literary Life (Iranian Studies 42). London: Routledge.

King Ahašveruš and the maidens, Šāhīn, Ardašir-nāme, Persia, 2nd half of the 17th century (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz)

Introducing Judeo-Persian writings, this original collection gives parallel samples in Judeo-Persian and Perso-Arabic script and translations in English. Judeo-Persian writings not only reflect the twenty-seven centuries of Jewish life in Iran, but they are also a testament to their intellectual, cultural, and socioeconomic conditions.

Such writings, found in the forms of verse or prose, are flavored with Judaic, Iranian and Islamic elements. The significant value of Judeo-Persian writing is found in the areas of linguistics, history and sociocultural and literary issues. The rhetorical forms and literary genres of epic, didactic, lyric and satirical poetry can be a valuable addition to the rich Iranian literary tradition and poetical arts. Also, as a Judaic literary contribution, the work is a representation of the literary activity of Middle Eastern Jews not so well recognized in Judaic global literature.

This book is a comprehensive introduction to the rich literary tradition of works written in Judeo-Persian and also serves as a guide to transliterate many other significant Judeo-Persian works that have not yet been transliterated into Perso-Arabic script. The collection will be of value to students and researchers interested in history, sociology and Iranian and Jewish studies.

Table of Contents

Part I Formation and History of Judeo-Persian

  • 1. An Overview of Iranian Jewish Intellectual History
  • 2. Thematic Contents of Judeo-Persian Literature: Literary Genres in Judeo-Persian Poetry
  • 3. Thematic Contents of Judeo-Persian Prose
  • Conclusion

Part II Samples of Judeo-Persian Writings

  • 1. Biblical Epic Poetry
  • 2. Historical Poetry
  • 3. Lyric Poetry
  • 4. Vernacular Poetry
  • 5. Mystic Poetry
  • 6. Didactic Poetry
  • 7. Panegyric Poetry
  • 8. Satirical Poetry
  • 9. Different Vocabularies and Ethnicities
  • 10. Literary Terms
  • 11. Epic Concepts and Legendary Heroes
  • 12. Zoroastrian Concepts
  • 13. Rhetorical Arts
  • 14. Rhythmic Embellished Prose
  • Bibliography
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Books

Symbols of political authority

Mittertrainer, Anahita Nasrin. 2020. Sinnbilder politischer Autorität? Frühsasanidische Städtebilder im Südwesten Irans. Dortmund: Readbox unipress.

Welche Rolle spielten Stadtgründungen bei der Formation des sasanidischen Reichs? In der Studie Sinnbilder politischer Autorität? Frühsasanidische Städtebilder im Südwesten Irans analysiert Anahita Nasrin Mittertrainer, wie politische Autorität in Städten und ihrem Hinterland im Südwesten Irans von den frühen sasanidischen Herrschern (224–338 n.d.Z.) geschaffen und reproduziert wurde.

Im Jahr 2018 wurden mit Gur und Bišapur zwei frühsasanidische Städte in das UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe aufgenommen. Zeitlich passend wird in dieser Studie auf Grundlage von archäologischem und historischem Datenmaterial eine Reihe von Ergebnissen präsentiert, die auf mehreren Ebenen zu einer grundlegenden Neuinterpretation des frühsasanidischen Städtebaus beitragen. Hierzu zählen revidierte Datierungen von einzelnen Baustrukturen sowie die funktionelle Umdeutung von Gebäuden, die eine zentrale Rolle im jeweiligen Stadtbild einnahmen. Auf makroskopischer Ebene ermöglicht der systematische Stadtvergleich der Städte Gur, Bišapur und Darabgerd Schlussfolgerungen bezüglich sasanidischer Stadtplanung, der Funktionalisierung des Umlands der Städte und des Verhältnisses zwischen Stadt und König.

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Books

The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek World

Mairs, Rachel (ed.). 2021. The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek world. London & New York: Routledge.

This volume provides a thorough conspectus of the field of Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek studies, mixing theoretical and historical surveys with critical and thought-provoking case studies in archaeology, history, literature and art.

The chapters from this international group of experts showcase innovative methodologies, such as archaeological GIS, as well as providing accessible explanations of specialist techniques such as die studies of coins, and important theoretical perspectives, including postcolonial approaches to the Greeks in India. Chapters cover the region’s archaeology, written and numismatic sources, and a history of scholarship of the subject, as well as culture, identity and interactions with neighbouring empires, including India and China.

The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek World is the go-to reference work on the field, and fulfils a serious need for an accessible, but also thorough and critically-informed, volume on the Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kingdoms. It provides an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the Hellenistic East.

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Books

Estudios Iranios y Turanios (Vol. 4)

Estudios Iranios y Turanios, Vol. 4, 2020.Estudios Iranios y Turanios, Vol. 4, 2020. has now been published. The whole issue is dedicated to the Avestan and Middle Persian Studies.

  • Alberto Cantera: “A brief note on the possibilities and limitations involved in reconstructing the historical performances of the Avestan liturgies: the case of the Dō-Hōmāst”
  • Saloumeh Gholami: “The collection of Avestan manuscripts of the Ataš Varahrām in Yazd”
  • Jean Kellens: “Pourquoi comprenons-nous si mal les Gâthâs? Keynote lecture au 9e colloque de la Societas Iranologica Europaea”
  • Götz König: “Notizen zum Xorde Avesta IV: Zur Textkomposition und -tradition des Ātaš Niyāyišn und zu dessen ritueller Performanz als Kurze Liturgie”
  • Éric Pirart: “Pour de nouveaux fragments avestiques: la généalogie de Zaraϑuštra”
  • Kianoosh Rezania: “A Suggestion for the Transliteration of Middle Persian Texts in Zoroastrian Middle Persian: Digital Corpus and Dictionary (MPCD): A Three Layered Transliteration System”
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Books

Neo-Platonic Elements in the Zoroastrian Literature

König, Götz. 2020. On the Question of Neo-Platonic Elements in the Zoroastrian Literature of the Ninth Century. In Ana Echevarría Arsuaga & Dorothea Weltecke (eds.), Religious Plurality and Interreligious Contacts in the Middle Ages (Wolfenbütteler Forschungen 161), 65–79. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

In the ninth/tenth century, in the so-called golden era of Islam, we see not only the flourishing of an Islamic theology and an Arabic philosophy and science that originate in Greek antiquity and late antiquity. Zoroastrianism, the dominating religion in Iran under the Sasanians, also saw the emergence of a literature, particularly in the ninth century, that is today our main source for the reconstruction of the Zoroastrian Geistesgeschichte in the first millennium AD.1 This so-called ›Pahlavi literature‹, texts in Middle Persian language written in a script of Semitic origin, covers, on the one hand, a few narrative works with roots in the epic tradition of Iran, and on the other hand, a good number of religious writings of different content, form and style. These religious writings can be divided into three groups. The first group comprises texts that are closely related to the Sasanian Pahlavi translations of the Avesta (the so-called Zand ). The second group comprises texts that adapt the Zand literature and transform it within this process. The third group, finally, comprises texts that I would like to characterize as ›philosophical theology‹. The texts of this group introduce philosophical elements into the inherited theological materials and thinking.