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History of the Caucasus

Baumer, Christoph. 2021. History of the Caucasus, vol. 1: At the crossroads of empires. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

A landscape of high mountains and narrow valleys stretching from the Black to the Caspian Seas, the Caucasus region has been home to human populations for nearly 2 million years. In this richly illustrated 2-volume series, historian and explorer Christoph Baumer tells the story of the region’s history through to the present day. It is a story of encounters between many different peoples, from Scythians, Turkic and Mongol peoples of the East to Greeks and Romans from the West, from Indo-European tribes from the West as well as the East, and to Arabs and Iranians from the South. It is a story of rival claims by Empires and nations and of how the region has become home to more than 50 languages that can be heard within its borders to this very day.

This first volume charts the period from the emergence of the earliest human populations in the region – the first known human populations outside Africa – to the Seljuk conquests of 1050CE. Along the way the book charts the development of Neolithic, Iron and Bronze Age cultures, the first recognizable Caucasian state and the arrival of a succession of the great transnational Empires, from the Greeks, the Romans and the Armenian to competing Christian and Muslim conquerors. The History of the Caucasus: Volume 1 also includes more than 200 full colour images and maps bringing the changing cultures of these lands vividly to life.

Table of Contents:

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The Persians at the court of the great kings

Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe (ed.). 2021. Die Perser am Hof der Großkönige. Darmstadt: wbg Philipp von Zabern.

Was zählt, ist der Blickwinkel: wie die persischen Könige sich selbst sahen

Die antiken Griechen hatten auf Grund von Vormachtrivalität in der Ägäis keine positive Meinung von den persischen Großkönigen. Griechische Quellen berichten von Dekadenz und Despotie am achämenidischen Hof. Doch wie sahen sich die Herrscher des ersten Weltreichs der Antike selbst? Ab Herbst 2020 sollte eine Sonderausstellung des Badischen Landesmuseums die Geschichte und das Selbstbild der Könige von Kyros II. bis zu Dareios III. zeigen. Umständehalber wurde der Begleitband zur Ausstellung zu einem Sonderheft der ANTIKEN WELT umgestaltet. Ein Bildband, der Einblicke in das Leben bei Hof gewährt und persische Quellen für sich sprechen lässt.

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The canal of Darius in Egypt

Mahlich, Elena. 2020. Der Kanalbau unter Dareios I. Ein achämenidisches Bauprojekt in Ägypten (Bonner Ägyptologische Beiträge 11). Berlin: EB-Verlag Dr. Brandt.

Aus dem achämenidenzeitlichen Ägypten liegen trotz einer vergleichsweise langen Herrschaft der Perser während der 27. Dynastie, die von der Eroberung Ägyptens durch Kambyses II. bis zum Jahr 404 v. Chr. dauerte und somit mehr als ein Jahrhundert umfasst, nur wenige keilschriftliche Quellen vor. Zu den besonders bemerkenswerten Funden ist das Konvolut der Kanalstelen zu nennen, die Dareios I. zum Anlass der Einweihung eines Kanals aufstellen ließ. Die Stelen berichten über den Bau dieses Kanals, der den Pelusischen Nilarm mit dem Roten Meer verband. Der vollendete Kanal wies eine Länge von 200 Kilometern auf, womit seine Ausmaße mit dem des modernen Suezkanals vergleichbar sind.

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The Routledge Handbook of the Senses in the Ancient Near East

Neumann, Kiersten & Allison Thomason (eds.). 2021. The Routledge Handbook of the Senses in the Ancient Near East. London: Routledge.

Among other interesting subjects offered in this volume, a number of contributions explicitly deal with the material from ancient Iran:

  • Kiersten Neumann: To touch upon – A tactile exploration of the Apadana reliefs at Persepolis
  • Megan Cifarelli: Dress, sensory assemblages, and identity in the early first millennium bce at Hasanlu, Iran
  • Neville McFerrin: A sense of scale – Proprioception, embodied subjectivities, and the space of kingship at Persepolis
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Epic Iran

Curtis, John, Ina Sarikhani Sandmann &Tim Stanley. 2021. Epic Iran: 5000 Years of culture. London: V&A Publishing.

Iran was the home of some of the greatest civilizations of both the ancient and medieval worlds, but these achievements remain poorly known and largely misunderstood outside the country. Epic Iran tells the story of Iran from pre-Islamic through modern times and provides an opportunity to see pieces from key museum and private collections. This book combines the ancient and Islamic periods and continues the narrative into the contemporary world. It shows how civilized life emerged in Iran around 3,200 BC and how a distinctive Iranian identity formed 2,500 years ago has survived until today, expressed in the Persian language and in religious affiliations.

Lavishly illustrated, some 250 images showcase pieces including goldwork, ceramics, glass, illustrated manuscripts, textiles, carpets, oil paintings, drawings, and photographs. Alongside the historical sweep are examples from contemporary artists and makers, demonstrating the rich antecedents still influencing some modern-day practitioners.

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Introduction to the Avesta

Kellens, Jean, and Céline Redard. 2021. Introduction à l’Avesta: Le récitatif liturgique sacré des zoroastriens. Les Belles Lettres.

Almost all religions of the contemporary world refer to a book that their followers consider sacred. The Avesta, the sacred book of the Zoroastrian communities of Iran, India and the diaspora is one of them, which bears witness to the origins of the pre-Islamic religion of the Iranian peoples.

Something, however, demands a closer look. Often approached as the theoretical expression of a religious doctrine or the mirror of a forgotten history and geography, the Avesta is also a literary engine whose mechanisms can be dismantled, that is, the precise analysis of the mode of transmission, the particularities of structure and the liturgical intentions presided over these textual assemblies.

Such is the ambition of this book, which traces the evolution of research from its origins to the advances of the 21st century, when our understanding of the Avesta was revolutionised.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Chapitre 1. Formation de la philologie avestique
  • Chapitre 2. La mise par écrit de l’Avesta
  • Chapitre 3. Le matériel manuscrit
  • Chapitre 4. Le texte transmis : l’Avesta
  • Chapitre 5. Analyse interne des textes constitutifs de l’Avesta
  • En guise de conclusion : un essai de chronologie
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Iran’s Conversion to Islam

Pohl, Walter & Daniel Mahoney (eds.). 2021. Historiography and identity IV: Writing history across Medieval Eurasia. Brepols.

Explores the social function of historical writing from across various world regions from Europe through the Islamic world to China, around the turn of the millennium, and how they construct and shape identities, as well as communicate ‘visions of community’ and legitimate political claims.

Historical writing has shaped identities in various ways and to different extents. This volume explores this multiplicity by looking at case studies from Europe, Byzantium, the Islamic World, and China around the turn of the first millennium. The chapters in this volume address official histories and polemical critique, traditional genres and experimental forms, ancient traditions and emerging territories, empires and barbarians. The authors do not take the identities highlighted in the texts for granted, but examine the complex strategies of identification that they employ. This volume thus explores how historiographical works in diverse contexts construct and shape identities, as well as legitimate political claims and communicate ‘visions of community’.

Two chapters of this volume touch on subjects of Iranian studies:

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The Srōš Drōn – Yasna 3 to 8

Redard, Céline. 2021. The Srōš Drōn – Yasna 3 to 8. A Critical Edition with Ritual Commentaries and Glossary (Corpus Avesticum 3). Leiden: Brill.

This book is a multi-faceted study of the Srōš Drōn, comprising chapters 3 to 8 of the Yasna ceremony, the core ritual of the Zoroastrian religion. It provides a critical edition produced with the electronic tools of the project The Multimedia Yasna, and a study of the performative aspects of the Srōš Drōn both through the lens of the ritual directions and in comparison with the Drōn Yašt ceremony.
By analysing the Srōš Drōn both as a text attested in manuscripts and as a ritual performance, Céline Redard applies a new approach to unlock the meaning of these chapters of the Yasna.

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Commagene in its Local, Regional and Global Hellenistic Context

Blömer, Michael, Stefan Riedel, Miguel John Versluys & Engelbert Winter (eds.). 2021. Common dwelling place of all the gods: Commagene in its local, regional and global Hellenistic context (Oriens et Occidens Band 34). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

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Iranian names in Nebenüberlieferungen of Indo-European languages

Martirosyan, Hrach. 2021. Iranische Namen in Nebenüberlieferungen Indogermanischer Sprachen (Iranisches Personennamenbuch, 5. 3). Wien: Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften.

The Iranian element is the largest layer of the Armenian borrowed lexicon. It comprises a period of more than 2.500 years starting from pre-Achaemenid times up to the modern period. Also the number of Armenian personal names of Iranian origin is quite large, roughly estimated one quarter of all Armenian personal names. The Armenian evidence is of vital importance for completing the Iranian onomasticon. In many cases, Middle Persian and Parthian namesakes of Armenian personal names are not directly attested. Besides, Armenian helps to determine the exact shape of Iranian names. The present fascicle of the “Iranisches Personennamenbuch” aims to collect and etymologically interpret all the Iranian personal names, which are attested in Armenian texts up to 1300 CE. Occasionally, it also comprises names that are attested at a later stage but are likely to belong to earlier periods, as well as younger forms that are related with older names and are therefore relevant for the philological or etymological discussion of the latter. The volume comprises 872 entries and includes (1) names of Iranian people of various kinds (kings, queens, princes, generals, etc.) that occur in Armenian texts, and (2) names of Iranian origin that were/are borne by Armenian people. It includes a huge range of new etymologies or corrected versions of pre-existing etymologies, as well as new names and corrected forms of names discovered in critical texts and voluminous corpora of inscriptions and colophons of Armenian manuscripts that have not been available for earlier researchers of the Armenian onomastics.