Articles Journal

Iranian Studies (vol. 53, issue 5–6)

Vol. 53 (2020), issues 5–6, of Iranian Studies has now been published, containing a number of articles and reviews related to the pre-Islamic era.

2020 is the fifty-third year anniversary of Iranian Studies. With its broad international reception it currently stands as the leading scholarly periodical in the field of Iranian studies. This achievement is due to an outstanding pool of scholars worldwide whose contributions have expanded the field of Iranian studies in depth and breadth, and also to the journal’s successive editorial teams for their commitment and dedicated hard work. As the journal editor I have been particularly privileged to work with an exemplary team of both current and former core editorial colleagues whose command of their respective fields of specialization combined with erudition, professionalism, and collegiality has been instrumental in making a highly demanding and complex operation into a pleasant and rewarding experience. I would like to take this opportunity to record my deep gratitude to my colleagues in the editorial office, individually and collectively.

From the “Editorial Note

When the dualists argued

Ruani, Flavia & Mihaela Timus (eds.). 2020. Quand les dualistes polémiquaient: Zoroastriens et manichéens (Orient & Méditerranée, 34). Leuven: Peeters.

The authors of this collected volume show that Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, which share a dualist vision of the world and the primordial entities, have raised in a similar way to Judaism, Christianity and Islam the question of the relationship of their followers to truth and therefore the error made by others. The volume makes a fundamental contribution to the study of the phenomenon of religious controversy in Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. It allows us to better understand two Eastern systems of thought, both in what they have in common and in their irreducible individuality.


From Aṣ̌ǝm Vohū to Dareios’ Inscription

Oettinger, Norbert, Stefan Schaffner & Thomas Steer (eds.). 2020. “Denken Sie einfach!”: Gedenkschrift für Karl Hoffmann (Münchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 30). Dettelbach: Verlag J.H. Röll.

Two chapters of the edited Gedenkschrift-volume for Karl Hoffmann are for special intrest of the study of Avestan and Old Persian:

  • Kellens, Jean. 2020. L’Aṣ̌ǝm Vohū entre Gâthâs et Visprad, 113–121.
  • Schmitt, Rüdiger. 2020. Dareios’ Inschrift „DPd“ – Gebet, Dichtung, in metrischer Form? , 235–254.


The Judeo-Persian rendition of the Buddha biographies

Yasharpour, Dalia. 2021. The Prince and the Sufi: the Judeo-Persian rendition of the Buddha biographies (The Brill Reference Library of Judaism 62). Leiden: Brill.

The Prince and the Sufi is the literary composition of the seventeenth-century Judeo-Persian poet Elisha ben Shmūel. In The Prince and the Sufi: The Judeo-Persian Rendition of the Buddha Biographies, Dalia Yasharpour provides a thorough analysis of this popular work to show how the Buddha’s life story has undergone substantial transformation with the use of Jewish, Judeo-Persian and Persian-Islamic sources. The annotated edition of the text and the corresponding English translation are meticulous and insightful. This scholarly study makes available to readers an important branch in the genealogical tree of the Buddha Biographies.


Language of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex

Lubotsky, Alexander. 2020. What Language was Spoken by the People of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex? In Paul W. Kroll & Jonathan A. Silk (eds.), “At the Shores of the Sky”. Asian Studies for Albert Hoffstädt, 5–11. Leiden: Brill.

The Russian archaeologist V.I. Sarianidi has localized dozens of settlements on the territory of former Margiana and Bactria and has proven that they belong to the same archaeological culture, which he labeled “Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex” (BMAC). At the end of the 1970s he managed to find the probable capital of this culture, a settlement called Gonur-depe. Gonur is located in the old delta of the Murghab River, on the border of the Karakum desert. The city was most likely founded around 2300 bce and experienced its heyday between 2000 and 1800. Somewhere around 1800, the riverbed of the Murghab began to move eastwards, which eventually led to the city being abandoned by its inhabitants. Already very soon the whole BMAC civilization started to decline, and we see few traces of it after 1600 bce.

This Paper as well as the whole volume is freely available.


Zoroastrian family law

Forest, Nicolas. 2020. Successions et Libéralités Dans l’Iran Mazdéen: Droit zoroastrien de la famille. Paris: Editions L’Harmattan.

A l’instar du droit romain, le droit successoral mazdéen distinguait les présomptions simples et irréfragables, connaissait la représentation successorale, la théorie des comourants, le droit d’accession, le rapport des libéralités ; en matière de règlement du passif, il appliquait la règle nemo liberalis nisi liberatus, permettait aux créanciers successoraux de bénéficier du privilège de la séparation des patrimoines, soumettait les cohéritiers débiteurs à une obligation in solidum ; en matière de droit de la filiation, il distinguait l’adoption simple de l’adoption plénière. Tout en décrivant exhaustivement le droit successoral mazdéen, cet ouvrage établit de nombreux parallèles avec d’autres droits de l’Antiquité, ainsi qu’avec le droit français.


Identity in Persian Egypt

Becking, Bob. 2020. Identity in Persian Egypt: The Fate of the Yehudite Community of Elephantine. Pennsylvania: Eisenbrauns.

In this book, Bob Becking provides a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the origins, lives, and eventual fate of the Yehudites, or Judeans, at Elephantine, framed within the greater history of the rise and fall of the Persian Empire.

The Yehudites were among those mercenaries recruited by the Persians to defend the southwestern border of the empire in the fifth century BCE. Becking argues that this group, whom some label as the first “Jews,” lived on the island of Elephantine in relative peace with other ethnic groups under the aegis of the pax persica. Drawing on Aramaic and Demotic texts discovered during excavations on the island and at Syene on the adjacent shore of the Nile, Becking finds evidence of intermarriage, trade cooperation, and even a limited acceptance of one another’s gods between the various ethnic groups at Elephantine. His analysis of the Elephantine Yehudites’ unorthodox form of Yahwism provides valuable insight into the group’s religious beliefs and practices.

An important contribution to the study of Yehudite life in the diaspora, this accessibly written and sweeping history enhances our understanding of the varieties of early Jewish life and how these contributed to the construction of Judaism.


Sources of Indo-Iranian Liturgies

Redard, Céline, Juanjo Ferrer-Losilla, Hamid Moein & Philippe Swennen  (eds.). 2020. Aux sources des liturgies indo-iraniennes (Collection Religion 10). Liège: Presses universitaires de l’Université de Liège.

The volume is the proceeding of the international colloquium entitled Aux sources des liturgies indo-iraniennes, which was held on 9 and 10 June 2016 at the University of Liège.

Table of Contents

  • Philippe Swennen: “Introduction”
  • Joanna Jurewicz: “The God who fights with the Snake and Agni”
  • Toshifumi Gotō: “Bergung des gesunkenen Sonnenlichts im Rigveda und Avesta
  • Kyoko Amano: “What is ‘Knowledge’ Justifying a Ritual Action? Uses of yá eváṁ véda / yá eváṁ vidvā́n in the Maitrāyaṇī Sam̐hitā”
  • Naoko Nishimura: “On the first mantra section of the Yajurveda-Sam̐hitā: Preparation for milking, or grazing of cows?”
  • Philippe Swennen: “Archéologie d’un mantra védique”
  • Éric Pirart: “L’idée d’hospitalité”
  • Antonio Panaino: “aētāsә.tē ātarә zaoϑrā. On the Mazdean Animal and Symbolic Sacrifices: Their Problems, Timing and Restrictions”
  • Jean Kellens: “ahu, mainiiu, ratu
  • Eijirō Dōyama: “Reflections on YH 40.1 from the Perspective of Indo-Iranian Culture”
  • Alberto Cantera: “Litanies and rituals. The structure and position of the Long Liturgy within the Zoroastrian ritual system”
  • Céline Redard: “Les Āfrīnagāns: une diversité rituelle étonnante”
  • Götz König: “Daēnā and Xratu. Some considerations on Alberto Cantera’s essay Talking with god
  • Juanjo Ferrer-Losilla: “Les alphabets avestiques et leur récitation dans les rituels zoroastriens: innovation ou archaïsme”
  • Miguel Ángel Andrés-Toledo: “Socio-religious Division in the Indo-Iranian Investiture with the Sacred Girdle”
  • Hamid Moein: “Some remarks about the Zoroastrian ceremony of cutting a new kusti according to two Persian Rivāyat manuscripts and two of the oldest Avestan manuscripts”

The names of the Magi: A historical-religious investigation

Panaino, Antonio. 2020. I nomi dei magi evangelici. Un’indagine storico-religiosa. Con contributi di Andrea Gariboldi, Jeffrey Kotyk, Paolo Ognibene e Alessia Zubani. Milano: Mimesis.

Although the proper names of the Magi do not appear at all in Matthew 2,1-12, the apocryphal traditions have established three names in particular, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. However, they are by no means the only ones, as the number of the Magi was never indicated in the Gospels, the same applies to their names, which range from three to twelve. The present essay proposes a preliminary investigation into the history of the origins of this complex onomastic tradition attested in different languages and cultures, between East and West, in the Late Ancient and Medieval world, on the traces of intricate paths of ancient spirituality and Christian propaganda, which thanks to the figure of the evangelical Magi was able to develop an important means of dialogue and intercultural promotion. The text is accompanied by synoptic tables (edited by A. Zubani) and an appendix on the Ossetian text of Matthew 2,1-12 (P. Ognibene), as well as two short essays, one on the Indo-Parthian coinage of the Gondofaridi (A. Gariboldi), whose history is linked to the figure of Gaspar, the other on the image of the Evangelical Magi in the Chinese reception (J. Kotyk).

Table of Contents

  • Antonio Panaino: I nomi dei Magi Evangelici
  • Alessia Zubani: Nomina nuda tenemus. L’onomastica dei Magi Evangelici
  • Andrea Gariboldi, Le monete indo-partiche di Gondophares
  • Jeffrey Kotyk: La nascita di Cristo e i portatori di doni persiani nelle fonti cinesi medievali
  • Paolo Ognibene: Mt. 2,1-12 in osseto

Advances in Iranian Linguistics

Larson, Richard K., Sedigheh Moradi & Vida Samiian (eds.). 2020. Advances in Iranian Linguistics (Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 351). Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

This volume brings together selected papers from the first North American Conference in Iranian Linguistics, which was organized by the linguistics department at Stony Brook University. Papers were selected to illustrate the range of frameworks, diverse areas of research and how the boundaries of linguistic analysis of Iranian languages have expanded over the years. The contributions collected in this volume address advancing research and complex methodological explorations in a broad range of topics in Persian syntax, morphology, phonology, semantics, typology and classification, as well as historical linguistics. Some of the papers also investigate less-studied and endangered Iranian languages such as Tat, Gilaki and Mazandarani, Sorani and Kurmanji Kurdish, and Zazaki. The volume will be of value to scholars in theoretical frameworks as well as those with typological and diachronic perspectives, and in particular to those working in Iranian linguistics.