Iran and its Histories

Daryaee, Touraj & Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2021. Iran and its histories. From the beginnings through the Achaemenid Empire (Classica et Orientalia 29). Wiesbaden: Harrossowitz.

Dealing with the “history” of Iran is a challenge for many reasons. “Iran” is a term with different meanings through the ages. Today, it refers to the boundaries of modern Iran, but historically and culturally it covers a much larger territory. The western term “Persia” exemplifies these uncertainties for it is used colloquially as a synonym for “Iran,” but can also refer to the Achaemenid, Arsacid or Sasanian Empires and later empires on the Iranian Plateau. Besides these geographical ambiguities there is also the “ethnic” and linguistic dimension of the term “Iran”. Iranian languages are a major branch of the Indo-European language family and people using these languages have played a decisive role in the history of “Iran” since the first millennium BCE. How should we situate the ‘autochthonous՚ civilizations on the plateau, such as those at Konar Sandal (Jiroft), Sialk in Kashan, or for that matter the region of Elam with its longue durée history and influence? So what does it mean when we talk about “Persia” and “Iran” from a historical point of view?

This volume brings together the contributions of the first and second Payravi conferences on Ancient Iranian History, held at the University of California Irvine in 2018 and 2019. The 16 contributions united in this volume tackle various problems of early Iranian history in many ways. They cover a wide range of time, from the Paleolithic to the end of the Achaemenid empire and Alexander III (“the Great”) and give vibrant insights into the dynamic processes of the history of Iran within the framework of the most recent results of scholarly research.

Table of Contents

Touraj Daryaee and Robert Rollinger: “Iran and its Histories: Problems and Challenges”

I Iranian History & Historiography: Some Basics

  • Josef Wiesehöfer: “Iranian History vs . History of Iran in Pre-Islamic Times”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “Balkanization of Antiquity in Contemporary Iranian Memory”
  • D.T. Potts: “The Zagros Frontier: Physical Feature, Cultural Boundary, Political Divide”

II From Prehistory to Early State Formation

  • Georg Neumann: “The Iranian Plateau from the Palaeolithic to the Beginning of the Bronze Age”
  • Hans Neumann: “Remarks on the History of West Iran in the Context of its Relations with Mesopotamia in the Late 3rd and Early 2nd Millennium BCE (According to the Cuneiform Sources)”
  • Elizabeth Carter: “Anshan from Ally of the Ur III State to Outpost of Lowland Middle Elamite Kings”

III The Beginnings of Empire: From Assyria to the Achaemenids and Alexander III

  • Giovanni Battista Lanfranchi: “Training for Empire: The Assyrian Pressure on Western Iran (9th–7th century BCE)”
  • Matt Waters: “Ashurbanipal’s Legacy: Cyrus the Great and the Achaemenid Empire”
  • Hilmar Klinkott: “The Persian-Achaemenid Empire and its ‘World System’: How to Approach It?”
  • Margaret Cool Root: “Imperial Social Economies: The Royal Wife Irtašduna and her Seal (PFS 38)”
  • Julian Degen: “Alexander III, the Achaemenids and the Quest for Dionysos: Framing and Claiming Universal Rulership in the Macedonian World Empire”

IV The Achaemenid Empire and its Borderlands

  • Henry P. Colburn: “‘The Spear of the Persian Man Has Gone Forth Far:’The Achaemenid Empire and its African Periphery”
  • D.T. Potts: “Some Thoughts on the Indian Lands of the Achaemenid Empire”
  • Kai Ruffing: “Westwards Bound…: The Achaemenid Empire and the Mediterranean . . . . . . . . . “
  • Stanley M. Burstein: “The Black Sea: An Achaemenid Frontier Zone”