Meetings between ancient empires

JRoseThe ever active and innovative Jordan Center for Persian Studies of the University of California, Irvine, has announced a new book series, of which the second volume is known to us:

Rose, Jenny. 2015. From Behistun to Bamiyan: Meetings between ancient empires (Jordan Center for Persian Studies 2).

We will update this space as soon as we have further information about the series.


Parthian Cities and Strongholds in Turkmenistan

Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2015. Parthian cities and strongholds in TurkmenistanInternational Journal of Eurasian Studies 2. 117–125.

The Arsacid empire (247 BC – AD 226) emerged as the result of a nomadic invasion in northeastern Iran and in southern Turkmenistan. The Arsacids attached great importance to the erection of fortifications and strongholds. Justin’s account on Arsaces I (247-211/210 BC) shows the unexpected triumph of a leader from the steppes in northeastern Iran and focuses on two aspects: that Arsaces raised a large army (41.4.8) and that he built fortresses and strengthened the cities (41.5.1). No less emphatic about it is Ammianus Marcellinus 23.6.4 who relates that Arsaces “filled Persia with cities, with fortified camps, and with strongholds”. Fortified centers made the dynasty’s basis in the course of internal consolidation of the kingdom, at the same time having become the elements of a defense system against the aggression of the neighboring powers, including the Seleucid monarchy, Graeco-Bactria, and some nomadic tribes of Central Asia. This paper shall point to some questions concerning cities and strongholds in Parthia proper, including the location of Dara, Nisaia, Asaak, Alexandropolis, and the development of Old Nisa as well as New Nisa.


The Many Faces of War in the Ancient World

Heckel, Waldemar, Sabine Müller & Graham Wrightson (eds.). 2015. The Many Faces of War in the Ancient World. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

This volume on different aspects of warfare and its political implications in the ancient world brings together the works of both established and younger scholars working on a historical period that stretches from the archaic period of Greece to the late Roman Empire. With its focus on cultural and social history, it presents an overview of several current issues concerning the “new” military history.

The book contains papers that can be conveniently divided into three parts. Part I is composed of three papers primarily concerned with archaic and classical Greece, though the third covers a wide range and relates the experience of the ancient Greeks to that of soldiers in the modern world – one might even argue that the comparison works in reverse. Part II comprises five papers on warfare in the age of Alexander the Great and on its reception early in the Hellenistic period. These demonstrate that the study of Alexander as a military figure is hardly a well-worn theme, but rather in its relative infancy, whether the approach is the tried and true (and wrongly disparaged) method of Quellenforschung or that of “experiencing war,” something that has recently come into fashion. Part III offers three papers on war in the time of Imperial Rome, particularly on the fringes of the Empire.

Covering a wide chronological span, Greek, Macedonian and Roman cultures and various topics, this volume shows the importance and actuality of research on the history of war and the diversity of the approaches to this task, as well as the different angles from which it can be analysed.

Table of Contents


Military Integration in Late Archaic Arkadia:
New Evidence from a Bronze Pinax (ca. 500 BC) of the Lykaion Johannes Heinrichs

Early Greek Citizen-Soldiers: Connections between the Citizens’ Social, Economic, Military, and Political Status in Archaic Polis States
Kurt A. Raaflaub

Laughter in Battle
Lawrence Tritle

Poseidippos of Pella and the Memory of Alexander’s Campaigns at the Ptolemaic Court
Sabine Müller

Introducing Ptolemy: Alexander and the Persian Gates
Timothy Howe

The Epigonoi – the Iranian phalanx of Alexander the Great
Marek Jan Olbrycht

“Shock and Awe” à la Alexander the Great
Edward M. Anson

Alexander the Great and the Fate of the Enemy: Quantifying, Qualifying, and Categorizing Atrocities
Waldemar Heckel and J. L. McLeod

Jovian and the Exodus from Nisibis: criticism and gratitude
John Vanderspoel

Soldiers and Their Families on the Late Roman Frontier in Central Jordan Alexander’s Campaign against the Autonomous Thracians
Conor Whately

A New Military Inscription from Numidia, Moesiaci Milites at Lambaesis , and Some Observations on the Phrase Desideratus in Acie
Riccardo Bertolazzi

About the Editors:

Waldemar Heckel is a Research Fellow of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

Sabine Müller is Professor of Ancient History at Marburg University.

Graham Wrightson is Assistant Professor of History at South Dakota State University. His research focuses primarily on Macedonian military history.


Roman ‘Soldatenkaiser’ on the Triumphal Rock Reliefs of Shāpūr I

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2015. Roman ‘Soldatenkaiser’ on the Triumphal Rock Reliefs of Shāpūr I – A ReassessmentHISTORIA I ŚWIAT 4, 47-63.

Five rock reliefs surviving in Persis/Fārs province in southern Iran represent the victories of Shāpūr I (241–272 AD), the second Sasanian King of Kings (Šāhānšāh), over the Roman Empire. The three Roman Emperors depicted on these reliefs have traditionally been identified as Gordian III (238–244), Philip I – known as ‘the Arab’ – (244–249) and Valerian I (253–260). From the 1960s onward, new interpretations are presented. In the most recent of these, Uranius Antoninus (253/254) is recognised on three of Shāpūr’s triumphal reliefs. The present paper aims to re-examine these new hypotheses by considering numismatic materials, including a unique gold coin of Shāpūr which bears an image of the same topic accompanying a legend on its reverse.


Arabs before Islam

Fisher, Greg (ed.). 2015. Arabs and empires before Islam. Oxford University Press.

Arabs and Empires before Islam collates nearly 250 translated extracts from an extensive array of ancient sources which, from a variety of different perspectives, illuminate the history of the Arabs before the emergence of Islam. Drawn from a broad period between the eighth century BC and the Middle Ages, the sources include texts written in Greek, Latin, Syriac, Persian, and Arabic, inscriptions in a variety of languages and alphabets, and discussions of archaeological sites from across the Near East. More than 20 international experts from the fields of archaeology, classics and ancient history, linguistics and philology, epigraphy, and art history, provide detailed commentary and analysis on this diverse selection of material.

About the author: Greg Fisher is Associate Professor in the College of the Humanities and the Department of History at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.


Continuity and Change in Late Antique Iran: An Economic View of the Sasanians

Rezakhani, Khodadad. 2015. Continuity and Change in Late Antique Iran: An Economic View of the Sasanians. International Journal of the Society of Iranian Archaeologists. 1 (2), 95-108.

Ancient economy has commonly been studied in the context of commerce and trade, less attention being paid to the production side of the economy. Additionally, artificial periodizations based on political change, including the division of Near Eastern history to the pre-Islam and Islamic periods, has prevented historians from considering issues such as economic growth in the long term. The present paper, focusing on the production side of the Sasanian economy, tries to establish certain principles and introduce possible criteria to study the economic history of the Sasanians. Regions of Khuzistan and Tokharistan/Bactria provide useful examples and comparisons for illustrating some of the points.


Ethnicity in the ancient world

McInerney, Jeremy (ed.). 2014. A companion to ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean. Wiley-Blackwell.

A Companion to Ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean presents a comprehensive collection of essays contributed by Classical Studies scholars that explore questions relating to ethnicity in the ancient Mediterranean world.

  • Covers topics of ethnicity in civilizations ranging from ancient Egypt and Israel, to Greece and Rome, and into Late Antiquity
  • Features cutting-edge research on ethnicity relating to Philistine, Etruscan, and Phoenician identities
  • Reveals the explicit relationships between ancient and modern ethnicities
  • Introduces an interpretation of ethnicity as an active component of social identity
  • Represents a fundamental questioning of formally accepted and fixed categories in the field

This volume contains an article by Jennifer Gates-Foster  entitled Achaemenids, royal power, and Persian ethnicity.


Parthian History

Die Parther - die vergessene GroßmachtEllerbrock, Uwe & Sylvia Winkelmann. 2015. Die Parther: Die vergessene Großmacht. 2 rev. ed. Darmstadt: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.
Uwe Ellerbrock and Sylvia Winkelmann convey in this book a comprehensive overview of the historical and cultural development of the Parthian EmpireVery detailed and comprehensive is the presentation of the entire culture of the Parthians, particularly the different aspects of the Parthian kingship as well as arts and religions of the empire which provides the reader an extensive understanding of life of the Parthians and their embedding within the ancient world.
About the Autors:
Uwe Ellerbrock is a specialist in anesthesia. For over 15 years he is a collector of Parthian coins and deals intensively with the history of the Parthian Empire.
Sylvia Winkelmann received her doctorate in Oriental Archeology at the University of Halle, specializing in Central Asia.

Susa and Elam

International conference: Susa and Elam: History, Language, Religion and Culture

6-9 July 2015, Université catholique de Louvain


Monday 6 July

 Opening lecture: Elizabeth Carter: Reassessing the Elamite contribution to the Luristan Bronzes


Xerxes: A Persian life

Stoneman, Richard. 2015. Xerxes: A Persian life. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Xerxes, Great King of the Persian Empire from 486–465 B.C., has gone down in history as an angry tyrant full of insane ambition. The stand of Leonidas and the 300 against his army at Thermopylae is a byword for courage, while the failure of Xerxes’ expedition has overshadowed all the other achievements of his twenty-two-year reign.In this lively and comprehensive new biography, Richard Stoneman shows how Xerxes, despite sympathetic treatment by the contemporary Greek writers Aeschylus and Herodotus, had his reputation destroyed by later Greek writers and by the propaganda of Alexander the Great. Stoneman draws on the latest research in Achaemenid studies and archaeology to present the ruler from the Persian perspective. This illuminating volume does not whitewash Xerxes’ failings but sets against them such triumphs as the architectural splendor of Persepolis and a consideration of Xerxes’ religious commitments. What emerges is a nuanced portrait of a man who ruled a vast and multicultural empire which the Greek communities of the West saw as the antithesis of their own values.

About the author:
Richard Stoneman is Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Exeter, and the author of numerous books. He lives in Devon, UK.