The Persepolis textual material contains many Aramaic texts, the majority of which belong to the so-called Persepolis Fortification Archive (509 to 493 BCE), an administrative archive consisting of mostly Elamite texts. In this article, the authors examine some specific Aramaic spellings that occur in the Aramaic texts from Persepolis, sic: the Aramaic Persepolis Fortification texts (PFAT) and the Aramaic epigraphs accompanying the Elamite Fortification texts (PFAE). Our interest in these spellings is that they do not respect the phonology, morphology and lexicon of Aramaic. It is argued that these errors have been triggered by the Elamite phonology, morphological and lexical system and that they have been made by scribes whose mother tongue was not Aramaic, but Elamite or Old Iranian.
Aramaic language(s) in its four phases with different scripts on various materials have been found in Iran (mostly from the western part of the land where Aramaic-speaking communities lived). Aramaic language traces in the Iranian world have remained in a large diversity on the coins. Besides some reigns whose coins bear Aramaic phrases, some others just minted coins with Aramaic derived legends and/or used ideograms on their coins. Almost from 3th BC to 10th centuries AD Aramaic words with Aramaic, Pah-lavi, Parthian, Sogdian and Chorasmian legends used as ideograms in the coinage. Due to producing ideograms, it is impossible to read the original pronunciation of the words but this heritage can introduce а concept of a larger Aramaic presence in the Iranian world. The earliest type of ideograms on the coins can be found on Fratarkā’s coinage in the Pārs province roughly from 3th BC and the latest belongs to Būyids’ amir of the 10th century, Rokn al-Dawla, who ruled in Rayy (al-Muḥammadiya). During this period, circa 1300 years, some dynasties struck their own coins with ideograms in a large territory from the Middle East to Transoxania and another one also used these coins in their daily deals as a currency.
Despite the many advances that have taken place in our understanding of the Hebrew Bible’s Old Iranian terminology, the donor terms of several words have remained elusive. Among them is Biblical Aramaic אֲדַרְגָּזַר (Dan. 3:2–3). Proposed Old Iranian etymologies for this word suffer from various phonological and semantic difficulties, rendering them unlikely. This paper proposes that Biblical Aramaic אֲדַרְגָּזַר is best derived from *ādrangāžara- ‘announcer of financial obligation’, a compound of *ādranga- ‘financial obligation’ and *āžara- ‘announcer’. A derivation from Old Iranian *ādrangāžara- adequately explains the form of Biblical Aramaic אֲדַרְגָּזַר. Furthermore, this etymology also suits the context well in that אֲדַרְגָּזַר occurs just prior to גְּדָבַר ‘treasurer’ and therefore falls logically within the progression from political administration to finances to law evident in the lists of Nebuchadnezzar’s officials (Dan. 3:2–3).
Mandaeism, the only surviving Gnostic religion, reflected, recorded, evaluated and thus transformed various religious traditions of different identities. Although a “Mandaean identity” did not develop until after the Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia, one can assume that “Mandaean ideas” were already present in various Aramaic-speaking groups in Mesopotamia.
In his study of the Mandaean religion, Ionuţ Daniel Băncilă asks whether traces of “Mandaic thoughts” can be found in Manichaeism, the second major Gnostic religion in the region. He examines this question in three different methodological approaches: A detailed look at the history of research on the subject shows to what extent previous attempts to explain the relationship between Manichaeism and Mandaeism were subject to the cultural fashions of different epochs; the text-comparative part of the study examines motifs in Manichaeism that can be identified as “Mandaic ideas” on a philological-literary critical basis. In a third part, the Mandaean understanding of history is critically examined and an attempt is made to explain the relations between the two religions geographical and historical vantage point.
The collection of Aramaic magic bowls and related objects in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin is one of the most important in the world. This book presents a description of each object and its contents, including details of users and other names, biblical quotations, parallel texts, and linguistic features. Combined with the detailed indices, the present volume makes the Berlin collection accessible for further research. Furthermore, sixteen texts, which are representative of the whole collection, are edited. This book results from an impressive collaboration between Siam Bhayro, James Nathan Ford, Dan Levene, and Ortal-Paz Saar, with further contributions by Matthew Morgenstern, Marco Moriggi, and Naama Vilozny, and will be of interest for all those engaged in the study of these fascinating objects.
This book is a product of the project entitled «Indios y Griegos en la corte de los Aquemenidas. Analisis de un contacto cultural (IGCA) – Indians and Greeks in the Achaemenid Court. A Cross-cultural Analysis (IGAC)», coordinated by Juan Antonio Álvarez-Pedrosa Núñez (referentia FFI2013-41023-P, sponsored as part of the ‘Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación 2013-2016’).
Here is the Spanish abstract:
Los estudios que conforman este volumen abarcan un rango muy variado de contactos culturales y lingüísticos que se produjeron en el interior del Imperio aqueménida. La estructura descentralizada de su administración favoreció todo tipo de contactos. Igualmente lo hizo el reconocimiento por sus gobernantes de su carácter multilingüe, multinacional y multirreligioso y la flexibilidad con la que gobernaron todas estas complejas realidades.
El Imperio aqueménida contaba con núcleos particularmente activos en su vida cultural. Uno estaba constituido por las capitales del Imperio: Susa, Ecbátana, Persépolis, Pasargadas y Babilonia, donde radicaban la lengua propia de la realeza y la aristocracia, el antiguo persa, que coexistía con lenguas como el acadio. En Anatolia, se configura un núcleo cultural importante en las capitales de las satrapías más occidentales, Sardes y Dascilio, con una influencia fuerte de la cultura griega. Parece claro que al Oriente se va creando un núcleo bactro-céntrico, con una importancia especial de la ciudad de Bactra.
También es cierto que el uso del arameo como lengua franca de la administración y el comercio facilitó enormemente el cáracter descentralizado y flexible del gobierno aqueménida y, sin duda, pavimentó el camino para la difusión del griego en el periodo helenístico.
En definitiva, se trata de in mundo cultural de una riqueza y complejidad sin parangón, que puede dar lugar a sucesivos hallazgos científicos que nos permitirán conocerlo más y mejor.
This trilingual plant list in Greek, Aramaic, and Middle Persian (Pahlavi) is a late copy in the Aramaic square script from the Cairo Genizah of the ninth or tenth centuries with randomly applied Palestinian vocalisation (T-S K14.22). It is the second example of a trilingual lexical list, containing plant names after Barhebraeus’ plant list in the Menārath Kudhshē. The origin of the Vorlage speaks for Jundishapur as its place of completion, and Syriac used for the Aramaic glosses, since this fragment shows a number of Syriac calques, especially particles, which came in through the translation from one Aramaic dialect into another. This unique text source demonstrates again how closely interlinked Greek, Aramaic, and Middle Iranian were in Late Antiquity, despite the loss of most of the text material from this famous academy of medical studies. What this list makes also so valuable is the application of the grades of the plants’ effect that go back to Galen, as can be found in the remnant Syriac manuscript Mingana Syr. 661.
Christa Müller-Kessler is an scholar of Syriac and Aramaic Studies at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena.
The Arshama Project is not new, but since it is a valuable resource for the study of Achaemenid history, we would like to introduce it briefly.
The parchment letters of the Persian prince Arshama to Nakhthor, the steward of his estates in Egypt, are rare survivors from the ancient Achaemenid empire. These fascinating documents offer a vivid snapshot of linguistic, social, economic, cultural, organisational and political aspects of the Achaemenid empire as lived by a member of the elite and his entourage. The letters give unique insight into cultivation and administration, unrest and control, privileged lifestyles and long-distance travel. Arshama’s letters to Nakhthor, two leather bags and clay sealings, entered the Bodleian Library in 1944. These pages are a result of a collaboration between the Bodleian Libraries and scholars from the AHRC funded project Communication, Language and Power in the Achaemenid Empire: The correspondence of the satrap Arshama.
The result of the project, a volume entitled The Arshama Letters from the Bodleian Library, is openly accessible on the Publications tab.
The book argues that the Aramaic documents from Elephantine dating to the Achaemenid period offer not only important glimpses of Judaean religion in the Persian period but that the religion of the Judaeans in Elephantine is among the best historically verifiable cases of Persian period Yahwism. The documents have the potential of functioning as an archive that can revise the canonised image of the Judaean religion in the Persian period.