A Portuguese edition of the Behistun Inscription (Old Persian text)

Treuk Medeiros de Araujo, Matheus. 2023. A inscrição de Behistun (c. 520 a.C.): tradução do texto Persa Antigo para o Português, introdução crítica e comentários. Revista de História 182, 1-35.

The monumental Achaemenid inscription at mount Behistun (Bisitun), in the Iranian province of Kermanshah (western Iran), reports the official version of Darius’ accession to power in Ancient Persia. Written in three languages and scripts (Old Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian), this invaluable historical document was vital to the decipherment of the cuneiform script in the 19th century. It also enabled the reconstruction of the Achaemenid Empire’s history, previously known to us mainly through the accounts of Greek and biblical sources. Due to the importance and uniqueness of the Behistun Inscription, we propose the translation of the Old Persian text directly to the Portuguese language, providing wider access to the document for specialized and non-specialized audiences. Historical commentaries approaching the most important debates associated with the inscription also follow the text.


The Intellectual Heritage of the Ancient Near East

Rollinger, Robert, Irene Madreiter, Martin Lang & Cinzia Pappi (eds.). 2023. The Intellectual Heritage of the Ancient Near East: Proceedings held at the 64th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale and the 12th Melammu Symposium, University of Innsbruck, July 16‒20, 2018 (Melammu Symposia 12). Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences.

The proceedings of the 12th Melammu Symposium is out. Among other interesting subjects, several papers contribute to aspects of ancient Iranian history and culture:

  • Josef Wiesehöfer: Ancient History and the Ancient Near East: Comments of an Ancient Historian
  • Daniel Beckman: On a Possible Assyrian Source of the Achaemenid Demand for “Earth and Water”
  • Eckart Otto: The Intellectual Heritage from the Neo-Assyrian Empire to the Achaemenids in the Western Reception History of the Book of Deuteronomy in the 16th and 17th Century
  • Rolf Strootman: Memories of Persian Kingship in the Hellenistic World
  • Tonia M. Sharlach: Over the Mountains: The Movement of Goods and People between Mesopotamia and Elam in the 21st Century BCE

Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2023. Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther: Achaemenid Court Culture in the Hebrew Bible. London: Bloomsbury.

Esther is the most visual book of the Hebrew Bible and largely crafted in the Fourth Century BCE by an author who was clearly au fait with the rarefied world of the Achaemenid court. It therefore provides an unusual melange of information which can enlighten scholars of Ancient Iranian Studies whilst offering Biblical scholars access into the Persian world from which the text emerged.

In this book, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones unlocks the text of Esther by reading it against the rich iconographic world of ancient Persia and of the Near East. Ancient Persia and the Book of Esther is a cultural and iconographic exploration of an important, but often undervalued, biblical book, and Llewellyn-Jones presents the book of Esther as a rich source for the study of life and thought in the Persian Empire. The author reveals answers to important questions, such as the role of the King’s courtiers in influencing policy, the way concubines at court were recruited, the structure of the harem in shifting the power of royal women, the function of feasting and drinking in the articulation of courtly power, and the meaning of gift-giving and patronage at the Achaemenid court.

Table of Contents
Why Iconography?
The Book of Esther: A New English Translation
i: The Persian Empire
ii: Jews in a Persian world
iii: The Book of Records: Persian perceptions of their past
iv: Persian Kingship
v: Susa and the palaces of Persia
vi: Laws and Governance; tax and tribute
vii: Banquets: drinking and feasting
viii: Gardens – Paradeisoi
ix: Couches and cups ; thrones and sceptres
x: Courtiers
xi: Vashti and her women
xii: Elite women at the Persian court
xiii: Royal concubinage
xiv: Beauty and sexuality
xv: Eunuchs
xvi: The royal gate
xvii: Royal protocol: audiences and formality
xviii: The royal robe and gift-giving
xix: Persian horses
xx: Signet rings and seals
xxi: Communications
xxii: Peace and rebellion
xxiii: Punishments and execution
Epilogue: Visualising Esther in the post-Persian world (5,000 words)


On the office of hu-dēnān pēšōbāy

Rezania, Kianoosh. 2023. On the concept of leadership and the office of Leader of the Zoroastrians (hu-dēnān pēšōbāy) in Abbasid Zoroastrianism. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 1–36.

Like many other religions, Zoroastrianism frequently restructured its priestly organization during its long history, largely because of the environmental changes to which it was exposed. A major shift in status – from being the state religion in the Sasanian Empire to holding only a minor position in the early Islamic period – challenged the Zoroastrian hierarchy of authority. The Abbasid state provided Zoroastrianism with an opportunity to initiate a new office, which was called hu-dēnān pēšōbāy “Leader of the Zoroastrians”. This article is the first to deal with this office in detail and scrutinizes the concept of leadership (pēšōbāyīh) in Sasanian and Abbasid Zoroastrianism. It sheds some light on the priestly structure of Zoroastrianism in this period and investigates the position of the office within the overall religious organization. It re-examines, moreover, evidence for the officiating Zoroastrian theologians in this office at the Abbasid court in Baghdad. Finally, it searches for the parallels between this office and that of the East-Syrian catholicos and the Jewish exilarch.

Abstract from FirstView

Xerxes: The Great King in Greece

Klinkott, Hilmar. 2023. Xerxes: Der Großkönig in Griechenland. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer.

Der Griechenland-Feldzug des persischen Großkönigs Xerxes I. ist bislang nicht aus einer konsequent östlichen Perspektive untersucht worden. Die Inschrift des Xerxes aus Persepolis XPl bietet methodisch dafür eine Grundlage als Leitfaden einer achaimenidischen Programmatik. Die Neubewertung des Griechenlandfeldzuges anhand dieser Inschrift ist weder ein Korrektiv der bestehenden Forschung noch ein Versuch, den Feldzug ereignis- oder militärgeschichtlich umfänglich zu rekonstruieren. Vielmehr nutzt Hilmar Klinkott sie als Schlüssel für das Verständnis ganz anderer, großköniglicher Akzente, Zielsetzungen und Bewertungen, die damit auch das Gesamtbild des Feldzuges prägen. Denn anders als aus griechischer Sicht war das Unternehmen für Xerxes unter gewissen Aspekten durchaus ein Erfolg.


Journal of Iran National Museum (2.2)

The second issue of vol. 2 (2021) of Journal of Iran National Museum is published. It contains 14 papers, exploring aspects of Iranian archaeology.

Table of contents:

  • Sirvan Mohammadi Ghasrian; Iraj Beheshti; Omoalbanin Ghafoori: The Petrographic Analysis of Early Chalcolithic Period J Ware of Mahidasht Stored at National Museum of Iran
  • Sepideh Maziar; Marjan Mashkour; Laura Manca; Homa Fathi; Jebrael Nokandeh; Roya Khazaeli: Study of Yanik Tepe’s Bone Object in the National Museum of Iran
  • Amir Saed Mucheshi; Ali Vahdati: The Bronze Stamp Seals of Marlik in the National Museum of Iran: Evidence of a Connection with the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex in the Bronze Age
  • Marya Tabrizpour; Mohammad Taghi Atayi: Plants of Qasrdasht: Evaluation of Charcoal Samples
  • Pegah Goodarzi; Arkadiusz Sołtysiak; Mostafa Dehpahlavan: Bioarchaeological Studies and Strontium Isotopes Analysis on Human Remains from Historical Period from the Site of Shahr-i Qumis, Semnan Province
  • Farhad Solat; Philip Forsythe; Afshang Parhizi Rad: Notes about a Greek Inscription on a Parthian Period Male Statue in the National Museum of Iran
  • Parsa Hossein Sabri; Gholamreza Avani: Iranian Tradition During 8th AD Century, Through the Dirham Coinage of Abbasid Caliphate: Study a collection of Sasanian clay bullae in the National Museum of Iran, returned from the United States of America
  • Afshin Khosrowsani: The Cultural Landscape of the North of Behbahan (Tashan) from the Sasanian Era to the Present
  • Hossein Sabri; Gholamreza Avani: Iranian Tradition During 8th AD Century, Through the Dirham Coinage of Abbasid Caliphate
  • Fereshteh Zokaei: Egyptian Mamluk Dinar Coins in the National Museum of Iran
  • Hassan Ali Borhani Rarani; Elaheh Noorian: The Influence of the Water Resources Management on Changing the Administrative Geography of Khorasgan of Isfahan from Safavid Epoch to the Present Time: Reconsideration of Tablets Texts‘s Sarcophagus of Shah Isma‘il I in Ardabil and Iran National and The Walters Art Museum
  • Ali Borhani Rarani; Elaheh Noorian: The Influence of the Water Resources Management on Changing the Administrative Geography of Khorasgan of Isfahan from Safavid Epoch to the Present Time
  • Homayoun Khosheghbal: Williamson Surveys in Southern Iran and his Collection
  • Liliy Niakan; Parvaneh Soltani: The National Museum of Iran’s Department of Conservation: The Pioneering Steps

From Samarqand to Toledo

Kaplony, Andreas & Matt Malczycki (eds.). 2022. From Samarqand to Toledo: Greek, Sogdian and Arabic documents and manuscripts from the Islamicate world and beyond (Islamic History and Civilization 201). Leiden: Brill.

Documents open up another an approach complementary to the overwhelming richness of literary tradition as preserved in manuscripts. This volume combines studies on Greek, Sogdian and Arabic documents (letters, legal agreements, and amulets) with studies on Arabic and Judeo-Arabic manuscripts (poetry, science and divination).

From the website

Following article in the volume is of particular interest to scholars of Sogdian:

Huseini, Said Reza. 2022. Thinking in Arabic, writing in Sogdian: Arabic-Sogdian diplomatic relations in the early eighth century. In Andreas Kaplony & Matt Malczycki (eds.), From Samarqand to Toledo: Greek, Sogdian and Arabic documents and manuscripts from the Islamicate world and beyond (Islamic History and Civilization 201), 67–87. Leiden: Brill.


Orality and Textuality in Zoroastrianism

The Circle for Late Antique and Medieval Studies presents a discussion with Professors Almut Hintze, Martin Schwartz and Peter Jackson Rova on the oral traditions in Zoroastrianism. The panel discussion is online and open to the public. The website is here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023; 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm

You can register via Zoom.

How should we conceive of Prophet Zoroaster? What was the context in which he lived and composed the Gathas of Zoroaster? Do they provide a unique window into oral composition and transmission of tradition(s)? Can the early poetry attributed to Zoroaster teach us something about the cryptic techniques of Indo-European poetry and the beginnings of Greek philosophy? How did orality sustain the Zoroastrian community through millennia?

From the website

Iranian and Minority Languages

Sedighi, Anousha (ed.). 2023. Iranian and minority languages at home and in diaspora. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

While the typology, syntax, and morphology of Iranian languages have been widely explored, the sociolinguistic aspects remain largely understudied. The present companion addresses this essential yet overlooked area of research in two ways: (i) The book explores multilingualism within Iran and its neighbouring countries. (ii) It also investigates Iranian heritage languages within the diasporic context of the West.

The scope of languages covered is vast: In addition to discussing Iranian minority languages such as Tati and Balochi, the book explores non-Iranian minority languages such as Azeri, Tukmen, Armenian and Mandaic. Furthermore, the companion investigates Iranian heritage languages such as Wakhi, Pashto, and Persian within their diasporic and global contexts.

From the website

The Babylonian Talmud

Amsler, Monika. 2023. The Babylonian Talmud and late antique book culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

In this book, Monika Amsler explores the historical contexts in which the Babylonian Talmud was formed in an effort to determine whether it was the result of oral transmission. Scholars have posited that the rulings and stories we find in the Talmud were passed on from one generation to the next, each generation adding their opinions and interpretations of a given subject. Yet such an oral formation process is unheard of in late antiquity. Moreover, the model exoticizes the Talmud and disregards the intellectual world of Sassanid Persia. Rather than taking the Talmud’s discursive structure as a sign for orality, Amsler interrogates the intellectual and material prerequisites of composers of such complex works, and their education and methods of large-scale data management. She also traces and highlights the marks that their working methods inevitably left in the text. Detailing how intellectual innovation was generated, Amsler’s book also sheds new light on the content of the Talmud.

From Cambridge Core