This book translates the sections on pre-Islamic Persia in three Muslim Arabic chronicles, those of Ahmad al-Ya‘qubi (d. ca. 910), ‘Ali al-Mas‘udi (d. ca. 960) and Hamza al-Isfahani (d. ca. 960s). Their accounts, like those of many other Muslim historians on this topic, draw on texts that were composed in the period 750-850 bearing the title ‘The History of the Kings of the Persians’. These works served a growing audience of well-to-do Muslim bureaucrats and scholars of Persian ancestry, who were interested in their heritage and wished to make it part of the historical outlook of the new civilization that was emerging in the Middle East, namely Islamic civilization. This book explores the question of how knowledge about ancient Iran was transmitted to Muslim historians, in what forms it circulated and how it was shaped and refashioned for the new Perso-Muslim elite that served the early Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad, a city that was built only a short distance away from the old Persian capital of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.
Daryaee. 2018. Kings, Whores and Children: Passing Notes on Ancient Iran & the World that We Live In. Mehri Publication.
These short texts are a collection of notes and commentaries that I have made in the past few years about history and my experience and interaction with some intelligent, and some not so bright people on the social media. I firmly believe that we as historians and university professors must write not only for the few colleagues in esoteric journals to prove our intellectual ability, but also communicate and write for the people who are inquisitive and would like to learn about what we do and its significance. I have written these short pieces to peak the interest of the people in what we do and provide relevance to the present through past events. Many of the essays are in response to events in recent times such as the war in Syria and the destruction of historical sites, or notes on my travels through Iran. A few others are review of important topics and people who have left deep impressions on me and my work.
These are not deep writings with many footnotes and with a heavy dose of theoretical dressing. Rather, they are written from the heart about issues that preoccupy us today, but are also belong to the ancient past. I live in the US, where the past is the past. US is a forward looking nation with little regard anything before the eighteenth century. But even ancient history in the US, mainly deals with Greece and Rome, although beside the Greek columns in the US Congress, there isn’t much real or continuous connections. If one was to talk about ancient history on this content, it must be the history of the Olmecs and the Toltecs and the Mayans and the Incas and the Aztecs. Knowledge about the history of the native inhabitants of the American continent is as important as understanding the history that I present in this little book. The events in the past in the Middle East are as relevant as the events today and tied in many ways to the lives of the people living in the US and Europe and the rest of the world. I hope by reading these short essays which in many ways are meant to entertain and educate, the reader understands the experience of a historian who relates his own experience with texts, monuments, and people who work on the past.
Hameen-Anttila, Jaakko (ed.). 2017. Al-Maqrīzī’s al-Ḫabar ʻan al-bašar. vol. V, section 4: Persia and its kings, part I (Bibliotheca Maqriziana 5). Leiden: Brill.
Al-Maqrīzī’s (d. 845/1442) last work, al-Ḫabar ʿan al-bašar, was completed a year before his death. This volume, edited by Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, covers the history of pre-Islamic Iran from the Creation to the Parthians. Al-Maqrīzī’s work shows how Arab historians integrated Iran into world history and how they harmonized various currents of historiography (Middle Persian historiography, Islamic sacred history, Greek and Latin historiography).
Among al-Ḫabar’s sources is Kitāb Hurūšiyūš, the Arabic translation of Paulus Orosius’ Historiarum adversum paganos libri vii. This source has only been preserved in one defective copy, and al-Maqrīzī’s text helps to fill in some of its lacunae.
Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2017. Keeping and Displaying Royal Tribute Animals in Ancient Persia and the Near East. In Thorsten Fögen & Edmund Thomas (eds.), Interactions between Animals and Humans in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.
The Achaemenid dynasty (559-331 B.C.) ruled the biggest empire the ancient world had ever seen. Commanding lands from India to Ethiopia and Libya to Afghanistan, the Great Kings of Persia demanded loyalty and tribute from the conquered peoples who made up their vast realm, and the walls of their ceremonial capital at Persepolis in the heart of Iran abound with images of foreign delegations carrying tribute to their monarch. Amidst the gold, silver, textiles and precious stones brought to the ruler is a rich abundance of exotic wildlife: Asiatic lions, Bactrian camels, zebu, wild asses, and Arabian horses. Textual evidence alerts us to the presence of parrots, peacocks, and wild jungle fowl at the Iranian court as well as the probability that the Achaemenid Persians were familiar with rhinoceroses, tigers, and even okapi. The exotic fauna were living offerings from the four quarters of the empire, breathing symbols of the Great King’s power and his control of his vast dominions. By examining a variety of Near Eastern and Greek sources, this paper explores the rich variety of exotic species imported into Persia to satisfy the monarch’s pleasure and his public image; it explores evidence for royal menageries in the Near East, as well as offering some cross-temporal comparisons with the Chinese Ming Dynasty, in order to question how the ancient Iranians interacted with exotic animals and to question how they were displayed and treated by their human captors and owners.
Dan, Anca. 2017. “The Sarmatians: Some thoughts on the historiographical invention of a West Iranian migration“. In Felix Wiedemann, Kerstin P. Hofmann and Hans-Joachim Gehrke (eds.), Vom Wandern der Völker. Migrationserzählungen in den Altertumswissenschaften. 97-134. Berlin: Edition Topoi.
The continuous migration of the Sarmatians from East to West is still considered an historical fact. The fundaments of this theory, however, are tricky: the Iranian tie of all the populations on the northeastern edge of the ancient world is too weak to support the existence of one ancient ethnos; our current image of the Sarmatians is the result of loose readings of texts and archaeological evidence, nourished by nationalistic convictions. This paper de-constructs the currently accepted Sarmatian migrations and proposes a new history of the invention of the Sarmatians, through the critical re-examination of the linguistic and archaeological data as well as of the historiographical theses of the last years.
Canepa, Matthew P. 2017. “Cross-Cultural Communication in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, and Western and South Asia,” In Richard J. A. Talbert & Fred S. Naiden (eds.), Mercury’s Wings: Exploring Modes of Communication in the Ancient World, 249-272, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
This chapter explores the dynamics of cross-cultural communication, primarily among the kingdoms and empires of Western and South Asia after Alexander the Great. This period witnessed the rise, conflict, coexistence and fall of a succession of cross-continental empires, including that of the Seleucids (312-64 BCE) and Mauryas (321-185), as well as powerful regional powers with larger ambitions such as the Ptolemies of Egypt, the Diodotids and Euthymids of Bactria (ca. 25o–ca. 145), Sungas (185-73), and a variety of Indo-Greek kingdoms (ca. 185 BCE–ca. 10 CE). Several new Iranian-speaking elites, including the Parni, Saka, and Yuezhi, descended from the Central Asian steppes and eventually formed the Arsacid, Indo-Scythian, and Kusana empires, respectively. These Macedonian, Indian, and Iranian powers engendered an intensive period of diplomatic interaction and cultural exchange. While this chapter focuses first on peer-polity diplomatic communication, it also explores the relationship between direct, intentional communicative acts and the wider contexts of cross-cultural interaction in which they took place and to which they often contributed.
Patel, Alka & Touraj Daryaee (eds.). 2017. India and Iran in the Longue Durée. UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies.
This book is the result of a conference held at the University of California, Irvine, covering the contacts between Iran and India from antiquity to the modern period. The papers include historical, archeological and artistic aspects and influences between the two civiluzations.
Table of Contents:
- Alka Patel & Touraj Daryaee: India and Iran in the Longue Durée
- Osmund Bopearachchi: Achaemenids and Mauryans: Emergence of Coins and Plastic Arts in India
- Grant Parker: Nested Histories:Alexander in Iran and India
- Touraj Daryaee & Soodabeh Malekzadeh: The White Elephant: Notions of Kingship and Zoroastrian Demonology
- Frantz Grenet: In Search of Missing Links: Iranian Royal Protocol from the Achaemenids to the Mughals
- Ali Anooshahr: The Shaykh and the Shah: On the Five levels of Muhammad Ghaws Gwaliori
- Sudipta Sen: Historian as Witness: Ghulam Husain Tabatabi and the Dawning of British Rule in India
- Afshin Marashi: Parsi Textual Philianthropy: Print Commerce and the Revival of Zoroastrianism in Early 20th-Century Iran
- Alka Patel: Text as Nationalist Object: Modern Persian-Language Historiography on the Ghurids (c. 1150-1215)
Issue seven of “Anabasis“, edited by Marek Jan Olbrycht is out now. Several papers and reviews of this issue are related to ancient Iran:
- Marek Jan Olbrycht: The Sacral Kingship of the Early Arsacids I. Fire Cult and Kingly Glory
- Nikolaus L. Overtoom: The Rivalry of Rome and Parthia in the Sources from the Augustan Age to Late Antiquity
- Martin Schottky: Vorarbeiten zu einer Königsliste Kaukasisch-Iberiens. 5. Im Schatten Schapurs II
- Xiaoyan Qi: Elspeth R. M. Dusinberre, Empire, Authority, and Autonomy in Achaemenid Anatolia, Cam-bridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013
- Jeffrey D. Lerner: Robert Rollinger, Alexander und die großen Ströme. Die Flussüberquerungen im Lichte altorientalischer Pioniertechniken (Schwimmschläuche, Keleks und Pontonbrücken), Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz Verlag, 2013
- Erich Kettenhofen: Rabbo l‘olmyn «Maître pour l‘Éternité». Florilège offert à Philippe Gignoux pour son 80e anniversaire. Textes réunis par Rika Gyselen et Christelle Jullien, Paris: Association pour l’avancement des Études Iraniennes, 2011
Strootman, Rolf & Miguel John Versluys (eds.). 2017. Persianism in antiquity (Oriens et Occidens 25). Franz Steiner Verlag.
The socio-political and cultural memory of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire played a very important role in Antiquity and later ages. This book is the first to systematically chart these multiform ideas and associations over time and to define them in relation to one another, as Persianism. Hellenistic kings, Parthian monarchs, Romans and Sasanians: they all made a lot of meaning through the evolving concept of “Persia”, as the twenty-one papers in this rich volume illustrate at length.
Persianism underlies the notion of an East-West dichotomy that still pervades modern political rhetoric. In Antiquity and beyond, however, it also functioned in rather different ways, sometimes even as an alternative to Hellenism.
For the contributions, see the Table of Contents. The introductory essay to Persianism in Antiquity, entitled From culture to concept: The reception and appropriation of Persia in antiquity, is available through Rolf Strootman’s Academia page.