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Articles

New remarks on §70 of the Bisotun Inscription

Fattori, Marco. 2024. New epigraphic and exegetical remarks on paragraph 70 of the Bisotun inscription, Old Persian version (DB/OP IV ll. 88–92). Ricerche Linguistiche 1. 105–133.

The preprint of the article is available from the author’s Academia page.

This paper aims to provide a new edition of paragraph 70 of the Old Persian version of the Bisotun inscription (DB/OP IV ll. 88-92). Although this badly preserved passage received an enormous scholarly attention, only a few researchers could directly examine the inscription, and their editions differ significantly from one another. In absence of good published photographs, it is currently impossible to critically evaluate the reliability of these editions and propose new readings based on a first-hand inspection of the stone. To overcome this inconvenience, this article includes a full photographic documentation of the passage and a detailed discussion of each reading. Since this new examination of the inscription resulted in the improvement of several readings, the edition is followed by a commentary where a possible interpretation of the newly read words is offered.

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Legal Disputes of Judeans in the Achaemenid Era

Holtz, Shalom E. 2024. Foreign but fair: Legal disputes of Judeans in the Achaemenid era. Orientalia 92 (2): 185-201.

In this study, we present newly discovered duplicates of three significant Old Babylonian literary texts. 1) An unpublished Louvre duplicate (AO 6161) of the Papulegara hymns collection, which is currently housed at the British Museum. 2) A recently published Geneva duplicate (MAH 16069) of the large hymnic ritual commonly referred to as Ištar-Louvre. 3) The Yale prism (YBC 2394), which contains an almost complete version of the Dialogue Between Father and Son. Previously, only a small fragment of this text was known. The paper provides a philological commentary and a thorough discussion of these duplicates, considering the relatively uncommon phenomenon of duplicate literary texts during the Old Babylonian period.

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Books

Legacy of the East and Legacy of Alexander

Nawotka, Krzysztof & Agnieszka Wojciechowska (eds.). 2023. Legacy of the east and legacy of Alexander. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

From the Hellenistic period until the Muslim Middles Ages, the words and deeds of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) reverberated through the centuries. The tradition of his conquests and legends, which are best preserved in countless versions of the Alexander Romance, was a focal point of the conference in Wrocław 2019, the results of which are contained in this publication. The encounters between the European conquerors and the nations and cultures of the East, which are reflected in writings and works of art from East and West, enable us to gain a deep mutual understanding, even of the misunderstandings.

Contributions in this volume compare classical literary sources with non-European writings, epigraphic, archaeological and numismatic evidence. They explore the complexity of the classical source tradition in order to look beyond the boundaries of the time in which they were written down. By drawing on the methodology of the ‘literary turn’ in historiography, they draw our attention to ancient authors as conscious artists with their own agenda. An attempt is made to examine the Iranian background of Alexander’s politics and to verify modern hypotheses about his legacy in Iran and Central Asia. In Iran there was cultural continuity from the Achaemenid through the Hellenistic era, just as in Egypt, whose art absorbed non-native influences from the Saite period onwards. It is argued that the western influence or Hellenization that Alexander’s conquests brought to the heartland of the Persian Empire, its eastern part and Egypt, was limited. It shows that the last Persian king of Egypt, Darius III, and the first Macedonian pharaoh Alexander had more in common than is generally recognized. This book basically advocates the idea that a balance must be established between continuity and change, both in Egypt and in the East under Alexander and Hellenistic kings.

The table of contents is available from here.

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Articles Journal

On the Etymology of pourušaspa-

Volume 28, Issue 1, of Iran and the Caucasus has been published. We would like to point out Mehrbod Khanizadeh’s contribution in the issue:

Khanizadeh, Mehrbod. 2024. On the etymology of the Avestan personal name pourušaspa-. Iran and the Caucasus 28(1). 72–86.

This article discusses the formation and meaning of the Avestan personal name of Zarathuštra’s father, pourušaspa-. Taking side with the current scholarly view on the etymology and meaning of the word, i.e., *pourušāspa– → pourušaspa– ‘one who has grey horses’, it is argued here that the shortening of the vowel can be explained by an analogical model in Wištāsp Yašt 1.2, where pourušaspa– m. is described as pouru.aspa– ‘having many horses’. The article also challenges the view that Wištāsp Yašt 1.2 is a recent text.

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‘Emārat-e Kosrow on the High Road

Moradi, Yousef. 2023. ‘Emārat-e Kosrow on the High Road: Recent Archaeological Excavations. Ancient Near Eastern Studies 60: 93-147.

The question of how Perso-Sasanian traditions of palatial architecture developed over time, and to what degree these ideas and traditions influenced the Islamic conceptualisation of a royal space, remains a hotly contested topic. Part of the problem in answering these questions lies with the fragmented and often erroneous corpus of available data. European scholarship going back to the Victorian era has been laced with orientalist assumptions and strained reconstructions, and this bias has been allowed to continue to inform analyses up until this day. Another great problem has been the dissemination of results from archaeological work conducted by Iranian scholars, which has not attained the platform necessary to be widely read and used (perhaps, in part, due to language). This article endeavours to begin remedying these long-standing problems by providing the most comprehensive reassessment to date of the monumental late Sasanian complex known as the ‘Emārat-e Kosrow. The article challenges the established tropes by juxtaposing the extant scholarship with the comprehensive dataset produced by completely new archaeological investigations at the site. It is the author’s aim that the data provided by these excavations and the analysis of their results presented here will allow us to reconceptualise not only how this iconic Sasanian palace was actually constructed, but also to use this reconceptualisation as an empirical basis for rethinking the influence of Sasanian kingship theatres of power on those of the leadership of the early umma, and on the protocol carried out in them.

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Books

Transversal Studies on the Reigns of Yazdgird I and Wahrām V

Jullien, Christelle (ed.). 2023. Discourse, power issues, and images. Transversal studies on the reigns of Yazdgird I and Wahrām V (Late Antique History and Religion). Leuven: Peeters.

What images of Yazdgird I (399-420) and Wahrām V (420-438) have been transmitted in the sources from and outside the Persian empire? Those nearly forty years saw a rich and complex relationship develop between Persia and its neighbours, paving the way for the Sasanians to extend their influence beyond the borders. At the beginning of the fifth century, while exchanges and relations of subordination were being reconfigured in the Middle East, the religious communities of the Sasanian empire (Babylonian Jewry, diverse Christian communities, Manichaeans, etc.) created the conditions for a new relationship with power. These two great sovereigns were emblematic and inspired contrasting portrayals – either controversial or idealised – that integrate narrative models sometimes borrowed from other cultures. A major aim of this book is to bring together the up-to-date knowledge about this topic through a comprehensive enquiry and comparison of contemporaneous and later materials.

Table of Contents

  • Geoffrey Greatrex and George Amanatidis-Saadé: “Les relations romano-perses sous Yazdgird Ier et Wahrām V”
  • Giusto Traina: “Yazdgird I, Wahrām V, and the End of Greater Armenia: A Note on the Armenian Sources”
  • Rika Gyselen: “Entre tradition et innovation : temoignages materiels de l’epoque de Yazdgird Ier et de Wahrām V”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “The Two Kings of Erānsahr: Yazdgird I ‘The Sinner’ and Wahrām V ‘The Onager’ in the Xwadāy-nāmag Tradition”
  • Geoffrey Herman: “Tue Jews of Babylonia during the Reigns of Kings Yazdgird I and Wahrām V”
  • Scott McDonough: “A Tale of Two Isaacs: Christians and the Crown in Fifth Century Erānsahr”
  • Christelle Jullien: “Les affaires de pyrees sous Yazdgird I. Motif hagiographique et modèles littéraires”
  • Marie-Joseph Pierre and Chiemi Nakano: “Le synode de 410, avant et apres”
  • Philip Wood: “Rewriting History: Yazdgird I, Wahrām V and the Chronicle of Seert
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Articles

The Xorde Avesta and the structuring of time

König, G. 2024. The Xorde Avesta and the structuring of time. Berkeley Working Papers in Middle Iranian Philology 2(4). 1–21.

The Xorde Avesta is considered a collection of shorter Zoroastrian liturgies. Until recently, neither the architecture of the manuscripts in which the Xorde Avesta was handed down was analyzed in detail, nor was the relationship between manuscript and practice adequately described. This article develops the thesis that the representation of the Xorde Avesta in manuscripts and liturgical practice can be understood from the point of a ritual structuring of circular units of time.

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Books

Architecture and Archaeology of the Achaemenid Empire

Dan, Roberto. 2023. Studies on the architecture and archaeology of the Achaemenid Empire. Dynamics of interaction and transmission between centre and periphery. Roma: ISMEO – The International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies.

The relations between the centre and periphery of the Achaemenid Empire have been, for several years, the focus of numerous in-depth studies. The characteristics of this World Empire, which was a new phenomenon in the ancient Near East, have stimulated this scholarly research, based on written sources, as well as archaeological and cultural evidence. Quite often, the goal of these studies was to assess the impact of the empire’s core? A concept whose cultural outline warrants precise definition?within the regions under its control. For several decades, the basic question on the matter put forward by Roger Moorey (Cemeteries of the First Millennium B.C. at Deve Höyük, 1980: 128), who challenged the significance of the material traces of Persian domination (considered too flimsy), was echoed by many historians, who indeed have asked whether there “ever was a Persian empire.” That question was raised by Amélie Kuhrt and Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg in the introduction of a book whose title was, relevantly, Centre and Periphery (Achaemenid History, IV, 1990).

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Books

Alexander the Great in Syriac

Debié, Muriel. 2024. Alexandre le Grand en syriaque: Maître des lieux, des savoirs et des temps. Paris: Les belles lettres.

La figure historique d’Alexandre et les légendes qui lui sont attachées n’ont cessé de susciter fascination et admiration, bien au-delà des frontières de la Méditerranée et de l’Europe. Les récits sur Alexandre, historiques et légendaires, sont bien connus, mais quels échos ce personnage a-t-il trouvé dans les régions mêmes où il avait été actif (Proche et Moyen- Orient, Asie centrale et Inde) ? Pour le découvrir, cet ouvrage propose pour la première fois une plongée dans la littérature sur Alexandre rédigée en langue syriaque, qui a ensuite circulé en arabe et en persan et de là en malais, turc ou éthiopien.

Cette littérature compte à la fois des traductions de sources grecques (notamment du célèbre Roman d’Alexandre – avec plusieurs épisodes inconnus des versions occidentales – des sentences morales et philosophiques, des textes de numérologie et d’alchimie) et des textes originaux composés en syriaque dans l’Antiquité tardive, sous la forme d’apocalypses chrétiennes. Dans ces textes, dont certains ont un écho jusque jusque dans le Coran, la figure d’Alexandre est étonnamment mêlée à des éléments de cosmographie mésopotamienne antique et à des conceptions politico-religieuses des premiers siècles de la chrétienté.

L’ouvrage traduit ces textes, souvent hauts en couleurs, et les rend accessibles grâce à de brèves introductions. Dans chacune des trois parties, la traduction des textes syriaques est suivie d’un dossier complet, faisant état des recherches les plus récentes sur la datation, la circulation, les sources et l’interprétation de ces textes qui mettent en lumière l’importance d’Alexandre devenu, bien après sa mort, explorateur du monde et de ses mystères, protecteur des chrétiens syriaques contre les Perses sassanides et pivot du temps et de l’histoire.

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Articles

Beyond the theosophical paradigm

Errichiello, Mariano. 2024. Beyond the theosophical paradigm: Ilme kṣnum and the entangled history of modern Parsis. Journal of Persianate Studies. Brill 1–25.

In the early twentieth century, an esoteric interpretation of Zoroastrianism known as Ilme kṣnum became popular among the Parsis of India. Although research on the subject is scant, most scholars suggest that Ilme kṣnum draws largely upon the ideas promoted by the Theosophical Society in India. By examining primary sources in Gujarati, the present article illustrates the interpretation of the Zoroastrian cosmology proposed by Ilme kṣnum. Through a comparative analysis of its main concepts and terms, Ilme kṣnum is historicized in the context of the relations of the Parsi community with the Persianate and Western worlds. By framing Ilme kṣnum as a reconciliation between Persianate and Western forms of knowledge, the present article looks at historical entanglements as resources for the Parsi quest for religious authenticity, placing Zoroastrianism in global religious history.

The Abstract

This is an open access publication ahead of the print.