Category Archives: Books

Wrestling with the Demons

Moazami, Mahnaz. 2014. Wrestling with the Demons of the Pahlavi Widēwdād. Transcription, Translation, and Commentary (Iran Studies 9). Leiden/Boston: Brill.

The Pahlavi Widēwdād (Vidēvdād), The Law (Serving to Keep) Demons Away, a fifth-century Middle Persian commentary on the Avestan Vidēvdād, describes rules and regulations that serve to prevent pollution caused by dead matter, menstrual discharges, and other agents. It recognizes the perpetual presence of the demons, the forces of the Evil Spirit –forces that should be fought through law-abiding conduct. In spite of its formidable textual problems, the commentary provides an invaluable quarry for the rules of the Zoroastrian community through its citation of regulations for the conduct of its members. Many topics are covered, from jurisprudence to penalties, procedures for dealing with pollution, purification, and arrangements for funerals. Viewed together, they provide the reader with an exquisite interlace of a community’s concerns.

See here for more.

Introduction to Avestan

This is an English translation of the introduction, which was first published in 2001 in Spanish.

Martínez, Javier & Michiel de Vaan. 2014. Introduction to Avestan (Brill Introductions to Indo-European Languages I). Leiden/Boston: Brill. Translated from Spanish by Ryan Sandell.

This Introduction to Avestan provides a concise grammar of the Avestan language, the language of the followers of the Iranian prophet Zarathustra. The grammar focuses on spelling, phonology and morphology, but also includes a chapter on syntax. Abundant information on the historical development of the language is included, which renders the grammar very useful for students of Indo-Iranian and Indo-European. Also, a small number of selected Avestan texts is added, with a complete glossary, so that students can practise reading Avestan.

From the book’s description.

See here for more volumes in the series.

Yaghnobi Studies

A collection of papers resulting from the Italian ‘expeditions’ to the Yaghnob Valley:

Panaino, Antonio, Andrea Gariboldi & Paolo Ognibene (eds.). 2013. Papers from the Italian missions in Tajikistan (Yaghnobi Studies I). Mimesis.

Digital Critical Editions

After a hiatus:

Apollon, Daniel, Claire Belisle & Philippe Regnier (eds.). 2014. Digital Critical Editions. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

This edited volume explores intersections of traditional and digital textual scholarship. For more information, see here.

Raumkonzeptionen in antiken Religionen

Rezania, Kianoosh (ed.). 2014. Raumkonzeptionen in antiken Religionen. Beiträge des internationalen Symposiums in Göttingen, 28. und 29. Juni 2012 (Philippika 69). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

More information and an abstract are here.

Religious minorities in Kurdistan

Omarkhali, Khanna (ed.). 2014. Religious minorities in Kurdistan: Beyond the mainstream (Studies in Oriental Religions 68). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Religious Minorities in Kurdistan: Beyond the Mainstream, edited by Khanna Omarkhali, represents an account of the various religious milieus flourishing beyond the Islamic mainstream in all parts of Kurdistan. The miscellany describes how the religious minority groups operate within the Kurdish regions, which themselves have been subject to numerous conflicts and social as well as political transformations at the turn of the 21st century. This volume emphasizes recent developments affecting these communities, in particular their social and religious lives. Six chapters are dedicated to the Ahl-e Haqq (Yarisan/ Kaka’is), Yezidis, Alevis, the Haqqa and Khaksar Sufi traditions, the Shabaks, as well as to the Jewish and Christian communities in Kurdistan. The anthology includes three indices and a glossary of religious terms appearing in the volume.

For the ToC, see here.

Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians

Herman, Geoffrey (ed.). 2014. Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians: Religious dynamics in a Sasanian context (Judaism in Context 17). Gorgias Press.

For the table of contents and more info, see here.

The new Muslims of post-conquest Iran

Savant, Sarah Bowen. 2013. The new Muslims of post-conquest Iran: tradition, memory and conversion (Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Abstract:

How do converts to a religion come to feel an attachment to it? The New Muslims of Post-Conquest Iran answers this important question for Iran by focusing on the role of memory and its revision and erasure in the ninth to eleventh centuries. During this period, the descendants of the Persian imperial, religious and historiographical traditions not only wrote themselves into starkly different early Arabic and Islamic accounts of the past but also systematically suppressed much knowledge about pre-Islamic history. The result was both a new ‘Persian’ ethnic identity and the pairing of Islam with other loyalties and affiliations, including family, locale and sect. This pioneering study examines revisions to memory in a wide range of cases, from Iran’s imperial and administrative heritage to the Prophet Muhammad’s stalwart Persian companion, Salman al-Farisi, and to memory of Iranian scholars, soldiers and rulers in the mid-seventh century.

King and court

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2013. King and court in ancient Persia 559 to 331 BCE. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Abstract:

The first Persian Empire (559-331 BCE) was the biggest land empire the world had seen, and seated at the heart of its vast dominions, in the south of modern-day Iran, was the person of the Great King. Immortalized in Greek literature as despotic tyrants, a new vision of Persian monarchy is emerging from Iranian, and other, sources (literary, visual, and archaeological), which show the Kings in a very different light. Inscriptions of Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, and their heirs present an image of Persian rulers as liberators, peace-makers, valiant warriors, righteous god-fearing judges, and law-makers.

Around them the Kings established lavish and sophisticated courts, the centres of political decision-making and cultural achievements in which the image of monarchy was endorsed and advanced by an almost theatrical display of grandeur and power.

This book explores the representation of Persian monarchy and the court of the Achaemenid Great Kings from the point of view of the ancient Iranians themselves and through the sometimes distorted prism of Classical authors.

Empire, authority, and autonomy

Dusinberre, Elspeth. 2013. Empire, authority, and autonomy in Achaemenid Anatolia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Abstract:

The Achaemenid Persian Empire (550–330 BCE) was a vast and complex sociopolitical structure that encompassed much of modern-day Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and included two dozen distinct peoples who spoke different languages, worshipped different deities, lived in different environments and had widely differing social customs. This book offers a radical new approach to understanding the Achaemenid Persian Empire and imperialism more generally. Through a wide array of textual, visual and archaeological material, Elspeth R. M. Dusinberre shows how the rulers of the empire constructed a system flexible enough to provide for the needs of different peoples within the confines of a single imperial authority and highlights the variability in response. This book examines the dynamic tensions between authority and autonomy across the empire, providing a valuable new way of considering imperial structure and development.