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Eunuchs as guardians of women in Achaemenid Persia

Lenfant, Dominique. 2021. Eunuchs as guardians of women in Achaemenid Persia. Orientalism and occidentalism in modern scholarship. Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 61(4), 456-474.

Ancient Greek authors did not see eunuchs in Persia as servants of the ‘harem’, an image projected onto the past under the influence of a modern Orientalist stereotype.

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Books

William Barker, Xenophon’s ‘Cyropædia’

Grogan, Jane (ed.). 2020. William Barker, Xenophon’s ‘Cyropædia’ (Tudor and Stuart Translation 13). Cambridge: Modern Humanities Research Association.

William Barker’s translation of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia is the first substantial translation from Greek directly to English in Tudor England. It presents to its English readers an extraordinarily important text for humanists across Europe: a semi-fictional biography of the ancient Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great, so generically rich that it became (in England as well as Europe) a popular authority and model in the very different fields of educational, political and literary theory, as well as in literature by Sidney, Spenser and others.

This edition, for the first time, identifies its translator as a hitherto overlooked figure from the circle of Sir John Cheke at St John’s College, Cambridge, locus of an important and influential revival of Greek scholarship. A prolific translator from Greek and Italian, Barker was a Catholic, and spent most of his career working as secretary to Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk. What little notoriety he eventually gained was as the ‘Italianified Englishman’ who told of Howard’s involvement in the Ridolfi plot. But even here, this edition shows, Barker’s intellectual patronage by Cheke and friends, and their enduring support of him, his translations and the Chekeian agenda, can be discerned.

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Books

A Companion to the Achaemenid Persian Empire

Jacobs, Bruno & Robert Rollinger (eds.). 2021. A companion to the Achaemenid Persian empire. 2 vols. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

The Achaemenid Empire is often addressed as the first World Empire. However, its roots are in Near Eastern traditions, some of which have been the subject of recent intensive reevaluation. This book takes a unique and innovative approach to the subject, considering those predecessors to whom the Achaemenid Empire was indebted for its structure, ideology, and self-expression, by examining both written and archaeological sources. It addresses the empire’s legacy, and its contemporary, later, and even modern reception.

A Companion to the Achaemenid Persian Empire takes into account all relevant historical sources, including archaeological ones. It places particular emphasis on looking at the Achaemenid Empire from its different centers, paying just as much attention to the widely neglected eastern parts as to the commonly covered western parts of the empire. The book considers, not only its political history, but also its social, economic, and religious history, institutions, and art and science, in an effort to draw a complete picture of the empire and to foster an appreciation for its lasting reputation.

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Articles

Achaemenid Royal Road in Anatolia

Sadeghipour, Mahnaz & and Farshid Iravani Ghadimi. 2020. An Archaeological Approach to Delineate the Course of the Achaemenid Royal Road in Anatolia. Anatolica 46, 67-101.

The Achaemenid Royal Road was one of the crucial aspects of the Achaemenid imperial governance through which the affairs of this great empire were carried out. This major thoroughfare which on account of Herodotus’ reference extended from Sardis to Susa, was only one component of a more extended route network and allowed the Achaemenids to access and control conquered cities. Anatolia by the greatest number of the satrapies has played an important role in the center of this dominion. So far, determination of the actual course of the ‘Royal Road’ has been subject to much discussion due to ambiguities and discrepancies of historical explanations. Moreover, there has been little focus for archaeological research about the course of the ‘Royal Road’ in Anatolia. The purpose of this article is to reappraise and delineate the course of the ‘Royal Road’ in Anatolia during 550-330 BC concentrating mainly on the archaeological sites. To introduce a model for designating this road, the approach assumes that successive Achaemenid settlements are associated with this road. Therefore, the itinerary is retraced by recording the Achaemenid settlements based on the gamut of archaeological evidence, geographical features, diverse precursors to the ‘Royal Road’, and historical records where available. A new prospect is proposed, according to which the Achaemenid Royal Road extends more westward than what has been assumed before. An appreciation of this trunk line presents not only an invaluable opportunity to identify Achaemenid political and administrative might but also a proper understanding of the Achaemenid settlements in Anatolia.

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Books

The Herodotus Encyclopedia

Baron, Christopher (Ed.). 2021. The Herodotus Encyclopedia, 3 Volume Set. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

The first work of its kind, this book offers students and faculty of all levels an easy-to-use, up-to-date reference tool on Herodotus of Halicarnassus (the “Father of History”) and provides Herodotean scholars with a collection of important strands of recent work. Topics include the debt of Greek historical writing to epic poetry (and other genres); narratological analysis of the text; Herodotus’ position vis-à-vis his predecessors and contemporaries; his use of sources; his notion of Greekness; and the growing body of Persian and other Near Eastern evidence for sixth- and fifth century events.

Spanning three volumes, The Herodotus Encyclopedia surveys the current state of knowledge and understanding of Herodotus’ work, and discusses past, current, and emerging approaches to the text. Featuring contributions from an international team of more than 150 scholars, it offers more than 2,500 entries which cover the individuals, peoples, and places Herodotus names in his Histories; the composition and central themes in his work; and the historical, social, intellectual, and literary context of the period. Many entries also explore the text’s scholarship and reception from antiquity up to the present day.  Offers entries for every proper name, group, and region mentioned in Herodotus’ Histories Provides discussions of the history of Herodotean studies and scholarship Considers the historical and cultural contexts within which Herodotus wrote and lived Addresses the reception of Herodotus during antiquity and beyond Incorporates the methods and findings of several different disciplines in the humanities Features maps and illustrations, a user guide, an index, and full bibliographical information in each entry The Herodotus Encyclopedia is an indispensable text for scholars in classics and related fields, instructors who cover Herodotus or Greek history in their courses, research libraries, and students of ancient Greek history and literature.

* Offers entries for every proper name, group, and region mentioned in Herodotus’ Histories

* Provides discussions of the history of Herodotean studies and scholarship

*Considers the historical and cultural contexts within which Herodotus wrote and lived

*Addresses the reception of Herodotus during antiquity and beyond *Incorporates the methods and findings of several different disciplines in the humanities

* Features maps and illustrations, a user guide, an index, and full bibliographical information in each entry

The Herodotus Encyclopedia is an indispensable text for scholars in classics and related fields, instructors who cover Herodotus or Greek history in their courses, research libraries, and students of ancient Greek history and literature.

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Articles

The Notion of Harem and its Irrelevance to Women of the Persian Court

Lenfant, Dominique. 2020. The Notion of Harem and its Irrelevance to Women of the Persian Court. Ancient Society 50, 13-27.

It has become controversial to use the word ‘harem’ to designate the wives and concubines of the Great King of the Persian Empire, but differing attitudes may be observed among scholars, from rejecting this term to claiming it for use, most often without a detailed justification. Although it seems at first sight to be helpful, the present paper argues against using the word ‘harem’ by highlighting its major interpretative drawbacks: (1) its definition is unstable and unclear; (2) it creates confusion between the different categories of women who are distinguished in our evidence; (3) it is misleading, since it imposes on antiquity western representations mainly linked with Ottoman sultans; (4) it has strong modern connotations, and implies value judgments which are not suitable for a sound historical analysis; (5) it feeds a form of orientalism, since it fosters the idea that the Orient does exist, that it is the opposite of the Occident of the western speaker, and that it has not changed for more than two thousand years. It is lastly argued that this notion of a Persian ‘harem’ does not date back to the Greeks, who had neither a similar word nor similar representations and value judgments, nor the same feeling of otherness in respect to the Persians.

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Deportations in the Persian Empire

Matarese, Chiara. 2021. Deportationen im Perserreich in teispidisch-achaimenidischer Zeit (Classica et Orientalia, 27). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Die Studie beleuchtet das Phänomen von Deportationen in Persien in der Zeit vor Alexander dem Großen. Das Sujet ist aus mehreren Gründen herausfordernd und anspruchsvoll und entbehrte deshalb lange der wissenschaftlichen Aufarbeitung. Zum einen ist die Quellenlage problematisch: Neben dem Mangel an indigenen Überlieferungen sind die zur Verfügung stehenden gräko-römischen Quellen von zahlreichen Klischees geprägt, die es zunächst auszuräumen gilt. Zum anderen muss das Phänomen der Deportation theoretisch erfasst und von anderen Migrationsprozessen unterschieden werden.

Chiara Matarese gelingt es durch eine detaillierte und kritische Analyse der Quellen, die Auslöser und die Ziele der persischen Deportationen deutlich zu machen und die Komplexität dieses vielfältigen Phänomens darzustellen. Die Autorin beantwortet zusätzlich entscheidende Fragen beispielsweise danach, ob die Deportierten zu Sklaven gemacht wurden, oder zu ihrem Identitätsverständnis nach der Umsiedlung. Dabei wird deutlich dass sich die Perser in Praxis und Herrschaftsauffassung in vielem als gelehrige Nachfolger der Herrscher des Neuassyrischen und des Neubabylonischen Reiches zeigten. Die Deportationspraxis stellte hier keine Ausnahme dar.

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Journal

Iranica Antiqua, Volume 55

The table of contents of the latest issue (55) of the journal Iranica Antiqua:

  • ESKANDARI, N., DESSET, F., HESSARI, M., SHAHSAVARI, M., SHAFIEE, M., VIDALE, M.: A Late 4th to Early 3rd Millennium BC Grave in Hajjiabad-Varamin (Jiroft, South-Eastern Iran): Defining a New Period of the Halil Rud Archaeological Sequence
  • NIKZAD, Meisam, REZAIE, Iraj, KHALILI, Mehdi: Dog Burials in Ancient Iran
  • WICKS, Yasmina, DADFAR, Faezeh: An Axe to Grind? Another Look at the So-called ‘Atta-hushu’ Axes
  • BASAFA, Hassan, HEDAYATI, Zahra: The Iron Age in the Dargaz Plain (Northeast Khorasan): The Site of Kohne Ghale, a Case Study
  • DAN, Roberto: Tille Höyük Level X: A ‘Median’ or Achaemenid Period Citadel in the Euphrates Valley?
  • KHOSROWZADEH, Alireza, NOROUZI, Aliashgar, GYSELEN, Rika, HABIBI, Hossein: Administrative Bullae from Tappe Bardnakoon, a Newly Found Late Sasanian Administrative Centre
  • RASOULI, Arezoo, ABAI, Andia: Darius a-t-il dit la vérité à Behistun?
  • IRANNEJAD, A. Mani: Kavis in the Ancient National Iranian Tradition
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Books

The Greco-Persian Wars

Jensen, Erik. 2021. The Greco-Persian Wars: A Short History with Documents. Cambridge: Hackett Publishing.

Hackett’s Passages: Key Moments in History series titles include original-source documents in accessible editions, intended for the student-user or general audience. This edition, The Greco-Persian Wars, taps our knowledge of the Persian Empire and its interactions with the Greek world. The sources examined were created in different times and places, for different purposes, and with different intended audiences. Using these sources effectively requires recognizing their distinct characteristics. A general introduction about the Greco-Persian wars is included to provide historical background and an overview of the information contained in the original-source documents. Also included are a glossary of terms, a chronology, insightful headnotes to each document, and an index.

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Articles

Weather and the Greek–Persian “Naval Battle of Salamis”

Zerefos, Christos, Stavros Solomos, Dimitris Melas, John Kapsomenakis and Christos Repapis. 2020. The Role of Weather during the Greek–Persian “Naval Battle of Salamis” in 480 B.C. Atmosphere 11, 838.

The Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. is one of the most important naval battles of all times. This work examines in detail the climatically prevailing weather conditions during the Persian invasion in Greece. We perform a climatological analysis of the wind regime in the narrow straits of Salamis, where this historic battle took place, based on available station measurements, reanalysis and modeling simulations (ERA5, WRF) spanning through the period of 1960–2019. Our results are compared to ancient sources before and during the course of the conflict and can be summarized as follows: (i) Our climatological station measurements and model runs describing the prevailing winds in the area of interest are consistent with the eyewitness descriptions reported by ancient historians and (ii) The ancient Greeks and particularly Themistocles must have been aware of the local wind climatology since their strategic plan was carefully designed and implemented to take advantage of the diurnal wind variation. The combination of northwest wind during the night and early morning, converging with a south sea breeze after 10:00 A.M., formed a “pincer” that aided the Greeks at the beginning of the clash in the morning, while it brought turmoil to the Persian fleet and prevented them to escape to the open sea in the early afternoon hours. View Full-Text.