Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period

Curtis, John (ed.). 2020. Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period. A collection of essays in memory of the curator and scholar Terence Mitchell, exploring the history and archaeology of Ancient Persia. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. Ltd.

An important collection of eight essays on Ancient Persia (Iran) in the periods of the Achaemenid Empire (539–330 BC), when the Persians established control over the whole of the Ancient Near East, and later the Sasanian Empire. It will be of interest to historians, archaeologists and biblical scholars. Paul Collins writes about stone relief carvings from Persepolis; John Curtis and Christopher Walker illuminate the Achaemenid period in Babylon; Terence Mitchell, Alan Millard and Shahrokh Razmjou draw attention to neglected aspects of biblical archaeology and the books of Daniel and Isaiah; and Mahnaz Moazami and Prudence Harper explore the Sasanian period in Iran (AD 250–650) when Zoroastrianism became the state religion.

Continue reading Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period

From Sardis to Marathon

Stronk, Jan P. 2019. From Sardis to Marathon. Greco-Persian Relations 499-490 BC: A Review. Part two: the Battle of Marathon and its Implications. Talanta 51, 77-226.

The Battle of Marathon in 490 bc, according to Plutarch fought on 6 Boedromiôn (in that year to be equated with September 12 in our calendar and at present still celebrated on that day at Athens), may be regarded as one of the defining moments in the history of the ancient polis of Athens. The battle was the culmination point of developments that started about the middle of the sixth century bc, but really took shape shortly after 500 bc. In this paper, of which the first part was published in Talanta 48-49 (= Stronk 2016-17), we follow(ed) various circumstances and actions involving the Achaemenid Empire (briefly described as Persia) and Greek poleis which ultimately led to the Battle of Marathon. As Persian sources remain largely silent on these occurrences, we shall scrutinise other sources available in order to try and draw a more comprehensive picture of the occurrences surrounding the Battle of Marathon than can be obtained from Herodotus’ account alone, which remains to this day the main literary source for most people. Simultaneously, we will have to look into the matter of how reliable Herodotus’ account really is. In this second part, we shall discuss the occurrences following the fall of Eretria, notably focusing on the Battle of Marathon and its implications.

The Last Empire of Iran

Bonner, Michael Richard Jackson. 2020. The Last Empire of Iran (Gorgias Handbooks). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press LLC.

As part of the Gorgias Handbook Series, this book provides a political and military history of the Sasanian Empire in Late Antiquity (220s to 651 CE). The book takes the form of a narrative, which situates Sasanian Iran as a continental power between Rome and the world of the steppe nomad.

Continue reading The Last Empire of Iran

Iranian Studies (vol. 52, issue 5-6)

Issue 5-6 of Vol. 52 (2019) of the journal Iranian Studies with special interest to the Persian poet Saʿdi has now been published.

Continue reading Iranian Studies (vol. 52, issue 5-6)

Manichaean Sogdian Cosmogonical Texts

Morano, Enrico. 2019. Manichaean Sogdian cosmogonical texts in Manichaean script. In Chen Hao (ed.), Competing narratives between nomadic people and their sedentary neighbours (Studia Uralo-Altaica 53). Szeged.

The present paper gives a survey of the Sogdian fragments in Manichaean script of the Berlin Turfan Collection which deal with cosmogony.

Xenophon’s Cyropaedia

Jacobs, Bruno & Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2019. Ancient Information on Persia Re-assessed: Xenophon’s Cyropaedia. Proceedings of a Conference Held at Marburg in Honour of Christopher Tuplin, December 1-2, 2017. (Classica et Orientalia 22). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

In the past Xenophon’s Cyropaedia has attracted the attention of scholars primarily for literary-historical reasons. It is one of the main tasks of the present publication to free discussion of the work from this relatively narrow disciplinary constraint.
As questions of genre cannot be ignored anyway, the volume opens with contributions that consider where Cyropaedia stands in relation to historiography, the novel and Socratic literature. The next group of studies deals with how Xenophon drew on material from other authors and from his own experience to develop a picture of the emergence of the Persian Empire and of the way in which power was exercised there. Investigations of this sort presuppose questions about the historië that underpins Cyropaedia, and that topic is the focus of two further contributions that deal specifically with the types of information that were available to Xenophon. A final group of contributions looks at the impact of the work in canonical and deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, in the writings of the Alexander historians and in modern literature up to the 18th century.

Two Achaemenid toponyms on the canal stelae of Dareios I

Mahlich, Elena. 2020. Zwei achämenidische Toponyme auf den Kanalstelen von Dareios I. Arta 2020.001.

On the canal stelae erected by Dareios I, two residence cities of the Achaemenids are mentioned, which could not be identified beyond doubt until now. In this article, two new identification proposals will be made and explained. In addition, the journey of the Persian ruler mentioned in the stelae is reconstructed.

Persian Lyric Poetry

Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). 2019. Persian lyric poetry in the classical era, 800-1500: Ghazals, panegyrics and quatrains (A History of Persian Literature 2). London: I.B. Tauris.

The second volume in this series presents the reader with an extensive study of some major genres of Persian poetry from the first centuries after the rise of Islam to the end of the Timurid era and the inauguration of Safavid rule in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The authors explore the development of poetic genres, from the panegyric (qaside), to short lyrical poems (ghazal), and the quatrains (roba’i), tracing the stylistic evolution of Persian poetry up to 1500 and examine the vital role of these poetic forms within the rich landscape of Persian literature.

A History of Persian Literature is a 20-volume authoritative survey reflects the stature and significance of Persian literature as the single most important accomplishment of the Iranian experience. It includes extensive, revealing examples with contributions by prominent scholars who bring a fresh critical approach to bear on this important topic.

The Iranian Plateau during the Bronze Age

Meyer, Jan-Waalke, Emmanuelle Vila, Marjan Mashkour, Michèle Casanova & Régis Vallet (eds.). The Iranian plateau during the bronze age: Development of urbanisation, production and trade. Lyon: MOM Éditions.

The book compiles a portion of the contributions presented during the symposium “Urbanisation, commerce, subsistence and production during the third millennium BC on the Iranian Plateau”, which took place at the Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée in Lyon, the 29-30 of April, 2014. The twenty papers assembled provide an overview of the recent archaeological research on this region of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The socio-economic transformation from rural villages to towns and nations has prompted many questions into this evolution of urbanisation. What was the impact of interactions between cultures in the Iranian Plateau and the surrounding regions (Mesopotamia, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, Indus Valley)? What was the overall context during the Bronze Age on the Iranian Plateau? What was the extent and means of the expansion of the Kuro-Araxe culture? How did the Elamite Kingdom become established? What new knowledge has been contributed by the recent excavations and studies undertaken in the east of Iran? What was the influence of the Indus Valley culture, known as an epicentre of urbanisation in South Asia? What are the unique characteristics of the ancient cultures in Iran?

While the urbanisation of early Mesopotamia has been the subject of much debate for several decades, this topic has only recently been raised in respect to the Iranian Plateau. This volume is the product of an international community from Iranian, European, and American institutions, consisting of recognised specialists in the archaeology of the Iranian Bronze Age. It provides an overview of the latest research, including abundant results from current on-going excavations. The current state of archaeological research in Iran, comprising many dynamic questions and perspectives, is presented here in the form of original contributions on the first emergence of towns in the Near and Middle East.

A Cylinder Seal with an Amorite Name from Tepe Musiyan, Deh Luran Plain

Zeynivand, Mohsen. 2019. A cylinder seal with an amorite name from Tepe Musiyan, Deh Luran plain. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 71, 77-83.

Cylinder seal and impression from Musiyan. Photographs by M. Zeynivand; drawing by Z. Qasemi.

The archeology of the Deh Luran plain was documented by the work of Frank Hole and his associates in 1960s and 1970s. While these investigations were mostly dedicated to the study of the village periods, the presence of early state formations on the plain was also documented by their surface surveys. Tepe Farukhabad was an exception, but because it was only a small settlement in the third and second millennia BCE, the excavations there did not yield fruitful results for this period. Based on their systematic surface study of Tepe Musiyan, Wright and Neely argued that during the third and second millennia BCE, this settlement played a central role in this strategic plain due to its location on the route from Susa to Der (Badra in Iraq). Recently, our team again surveyed the Deh Luran Plain. Our visit to Musiyan provided us with a cylinder seal discovered by one of the locals. The inscription reveals the owner as a person with an Amorite name who may have been present in Musiyan sometime during the early centuries of the second millennium BCE, contemporary with the end of the Šimaški period, which in Mesopotamia extends from late in the Third Dynasty of Ur until the early Old Babylonian period.

A predominantly bibliographic blog for Iranian Studies