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The Limits of Empire in Ancient Afghanistan

Payne, Richard & Rhyne King (eds.). 2020. The limits of empire in ancient Afghanistan: Rule and resistance in the Hindu Kush, circa 600 BCE–600 CE (Classica et Orientalia 24). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

The territory of modern Afghanistan provided a center – and sometimes the center – for a succession of empires, from the Achaemenid Persians in the 6th century BCE until the Sasanian Iranians in the 7th century CE. And yet these regions most frequently appear as comprising a “crossroads” in accounts of their premodern history.

This volume explores how successive imperial regimes established enduring forms of domination spanning the highlands of the Hindu Kush, essentially ungovernable territories in the absence of the technologies of the modern state. The modern term “Afghanistan” likely has its origins in an ancient word for highland regions and peoples resistant to outside rule. The volume’s contributors approach the challenge of explaining the success of imperial projects within a highland political ecology from a variety of disciplinary perspectives with their respective evidentiary corpora, notably history, anthropology, archaeology, numismatics, and philology. The Limits of Empire models the kind of interdisciplinary collaboration necessary to produce persuasive accounts of an ancient Afghanistan whose surviving material and literary evidence remains comparatively limited. It shows how Afghan-centered imperial projects co-opted local elites, communicated in the idioms of local cultures, and created administrative archipelagoes rather than continuous territories. Above all, the volume makes plain the interest and utility in placing Afghanistan at the center, rather than the periphery, of the history of ancient empires in West Asia.

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Articles

The Borazjan Monuments

Zehbari, Zohreh. 2020. The Borazjan monuments: A synthesis of past and recent works. Arta 2020.002.

Since the 1970s, three Achaemenid monuments have been excavated at the sites of Charkhab, Bardak-e Siah and Sang-e Siah in the area of Borazjan, the capital city of Dashtestan, the largest county of Bushehr province in southern Iran. In this paper, the architecture of these monumental structures and other finds at the three sites are examined, with particular attention to chronology

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Books

Achaemenid Anatolia

Dahlén, Ashk P. (ed). 2020. Achaemenid Anatolia: Persian presence and impact in the Western Satrapies 546-330 BC. Proceedings of an international symposium at the Swedish Research Institure in Istanbul, 7-8 September, 2017. Boreas: Uppsala Studies in Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Civilizations.

The mid-sixth century bc saw the formation of one of the ancient world’s largest and richest empires, the first Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty. After the conquests of Cyrus the Great its vast realms stretched from the Aegean Sea in the west to the Jaxartes River in the east. The empire’s cosmopolitan policies, based on a shared economic relationship and a pluralistic administrative structure, heralded a period of astonishing cross-cultural fertilisation and innovation in different spheres of culture, trade and learning. These new developments were embraced and carried out in, among other regions, the highly multicultural setting of Achaemenid Anatolia.

Achaemenid Anatolia contains twelve articles from an international symposium (2017) on the relationships between the Iranian world and Anatolia in the Achaemenid period with an emphasis on Persian structures, presence and impacts on local populations and cultures. The contributions discuss a wide range of topics and address a variety of perspectives, from material culture, archaeology, architecture, and art history to philology, history, literature, numismatics, and religion.

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Journal

Iranica Antiqua, Volume 54

The table of contents of the latest issue (54) of the journal Iranica Antiqua:

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Articles

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.

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Books Journal

Iran and the Caucasus

Volume 23, issue 4 of Iran and the Caucasus:

Iran and the Caucasus 23(4).

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Books

Persian imperial policy and local sanctuaries

Achenbach, Reinhard (ed.). 2019. Persische Reichspolitik und lokale Heiligtümer. Beiträge einer Tagung des Exzellenzclusters «Religion und Politik in Vormoderne und Moderne» vom 24.–26. Februar 2016 in Münster. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Der Sammelband präsentiert die Beiträge der internationalen Tagung des Exzellenzclusters „Religion und Politik in Vormoderne und Moderne“ 2016 in Münster zur Religionspolitik der Achaimeniden und der Rolle ihrer Lokalheiligtümer. In welchem Maße dienten die Lokalreligionen zur Stabilisierung der politischen Verhältnisse bzw. trugen sie zur Destabilisierung bei? In welcher Weise unterstützten die Heiligtümer eine Wahrung lokaler Identität und wie weit waren sie aufgrund ökonomischer und äußerer Machtverhältnisse auf das Wohlwollen der Perser angewiesen? Welchen Einfluss hatten die Eidesrituale der Symmachien auf die Stellung der Heiligtümer der gewährleistenden Gottheiten? Wie wirkte sich die wachsende Kenntnis über die Vielfalt der Religionen
im Perserreich auf die Politik aus und wie reagierten unterschiedliche Ethnien hierauf? Wie kann man Konvergenzen und Divergenzen kultureller Entwicklungen und weltanschaulicher
Vorstellungen in der Achaimenidenzeit besser erfassen und beschreiben?

To see ToC click here.

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Books

Persian Royal–Judaean Elite Engagements

Silverman, Jason. 2019. Persian Royal–Judaean Elite Engagements in the Early Teispid and Achaemenid Empire: The King’s Acolytes (The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies). T&T Clark.

Jason Silverman presents a timely and necessary study, advancing the understanding of Achaemenid ideology and Persian Period Judaism. While the Achaemenid Persian Empire (c. 550–330 BCE) dwarfed all previous empires of the Ancient Near East in both size and longevity, the royal system that forged and preserved this civilisation remains only rudimentarily understood, as is the imperial and religious legacy bequeathed to future generations. In response to this deficit, Silverman provides a critically sophisticated and interdisciplinary model for comparative studies.
While the Achaemenids rebuilt the Jerusalem temple, Judaean literature of the period reflects tensions over its Persian re-establishment, demonstrating colliding religious perspectives. Although both First Zechariah (1–8) and Second Isaiah (40–55) are controversial, the greater imperial context is rarely dealt with in depth; both books deal directly with the temple’s legitimacy, and this ties them intimately to kings’ engagements with cults. Silverman explores how the Achaemenid kings portrayed their rule to subject minorities, the ways in which minority elites reshaped this ideology, and how long this impact lasted, as revealed through the Judaean reactions to the restoration of the Jerusalem temple.

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Books

Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt

Colburn, Henry P. 2019. Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt. Edinburgh University Press.

Previous studies have characterised Achaemenid rule of Egypt either as ephemeral and weak or oppressive and harsh. These characterisations, however, are based on the perceived lack of evidence for this period, filtered through ancient and modern preconceptions about the Persians.

Henry Colburn challenges these views by assembling and analyzing the archaeological remains from this period, including temples, tombs, irrigation works, statues, stelae, sealings, drinking vessels and coins. By looking at the decisions made about material culture – by Egyptians, Persians and others – it becomes possible to see both how the Persians integrated Egypt into their empire and the full range of experiences people had as a result.

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Articles

DPg: Ahuramazdā and the Creation of Water

Delshad, Soheil. 2019. DPg: Ahuramazdā and the creation of water, with a new text edition. Iranian Studies 52(3-4). 575-588.

Among the Achaemenid inscriptions, DPg has been the topic of several studies since the very beginning of cuneiform studies. The photographs prepared by the DARIOSH (Digital Achaemenid Royal Inscription Open Schema Hypertext) project at L’Orientale University of Naples shed light on some ambiguities of this specific inscription and led to the proposal of a new text edition of DPg. The purpose of this article is to follow the whole history of studies on DPg until today and then propose a new reading of the inscription and a discussion of related issues, including its unique creation formula and orthography.