The Achaemenids, the Black Sea and Beyond

Tsetskhladze, Gosha R. (eds.). 2023. The Achaemenids, the Black Sea and Beyond: New Evidence and Studies (Colloquia Antiqua, 40). Leuven: Peeters.

The Achaemenids, the Black Sea and Beyond, a short and well-illustrated volume, presents some of the papers due to have been presented at a small conference in Constanta in 2020 that became victim to the public policy response to Covid. It is dedicated to Alexandru Avram, one of the intended participants, who died before submitting his paper. The remaining nine papers, with a balance towards the northern and southern Black Sea, are supplemented by an introduction from the editor in the form of a cut and reworked paper of 2019 (the full version appeared in Ancient West and East); he too died before he could complete his proper introduction. Two deaths have given life to this volume. It may appear a little uneven in its coverage of the Black Sea’s four shores, but it is a child of circumstance. The abstracts of some, but not all, of those who did not submit papers are included as an appendix.


Gandharan Art and the Classical World

Stewart, Peter. 2024. Gandharan Art and the Classical World: A Short Introduction. Oxford: Archaeopress.

This book offers an introduction to Gandharan art and the mystery of its relationship with the Graeco-Roman world of the Mediterranean. It presents an accessible explanation of the ancient and modern contexts of Gandharan art, the state of scholarship on the subject, and guidance for further, in-depth study.

In the early centuries AD, the small region of Gandhara (centred on what is now northern Pakistan) produced an extraordinary tradition of Buddhist art which eventually had an immense influence across Asia. Mainly produced to adorn monasteries and shrines, Gandharan sculptures celebrate the Buddha himself, the stories of his life and the many sacred characters of the Buddhist cosmos. Since this imagery was rediscovered in the nineteenth century, one of its most fascinating and puzzling aspects is the extent to which it draws on the conventions of Greek and Roman art, which originated thousands of kilometres to the west.

Inspired by the Gandhara Connections project at Oxford University’s Classical Art Research Centre, this book offers an introduction to Gandharan art and the mystery of its relationship with the Graeco-Roman world of the Mediterranean. It presents an accessible explanation of the ancient and modern contexts of Gandharan art, the state of scholarship on the subject, and guidance for further, in-depth study.


Studies on Persian objects from Greece

Fleischmann, Kristina Esther. 2023. Die Faszination des Orientalischen. Studien zu persischen Objekten aus Griechenland und zum Einfluss der persischen auf die griechische Kultur 550–330 v. Chr. (AOAT 52). Münster: Ugarit.

Online resources

Archaeological Gazetteer of Iran

The Pourdavoud Center at the UCLA operates the Archaeological Gazetteer of Iran, a great resource which we think should be more widely known.

The Archaeological Gazetteer of Iran: An Online Encyclopedia of Iranian Archaeological Sites

The Archaeological Gazetteer of Iran is a research tool for scholars in all branches of humanities, including anthropology, art history, and history, but more specifically for those working on the archaeology of Iran and the ancient Near East. The Gazetteer is a free, open access resource and will be hosted and maintained by the University of California, Los Angeles, which will ensure its up-to-date, long-term use and availability.

From the Introduction

Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies

The latest issue (11/2-3) of Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies is devoted to Phoenician studies. Among other interesting contributions, a handful of papers interest scholars of Iranian history and culture.

  • Ann E. Killebrew: Phoenician Iron Smithing and Cult at Persian-Period Tel Akko
  • Ida Oggiano; Fabio Porzia: The Bearded Man and the Pregnant Woman Terracotta Figurines: A Case of Divine “Open Relationship” in Persian-Period Levant?
  • Meir Edrey: Achaemenid / Early Zoroastrian Influences on Phoenician Cultic Practices during the Persian Period

Iran, Volume 61, Issue 2 (2023)

The table of contents of the latest issue (61/2) of the journal Iran:

  • Nasir Eskandari, François Desset, Mojgan Shafiee, Meysam Shahsavari, Salman Anjamrouz, Irene Caldana, Ali Daneshi, Ali Shahdadi & Massimo Vidale: Preliminary Report on the Survey of Hajjiabad-Varamin, a Site of the Konar Sandal Settlement Network (Jiroft, Kerman, Iran)
  • Salah Salimi, Mostafa Dehpahlavan & John MacGinnis: A Survey on Parthian Pithos Cemeteries on The Western Bank of The Little Zab River, Sardasht Region, Northwest Iran
  • Tobias Jones: The Objects of Loyalty in the Early Mongol Empire (Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries)
  • Sara Mirahmadi: Legitimising the Khan: Rashid al-Din’s Ideological Project from a Literary Aspect
  • Ana Marija Grbanovic: Lost and Found: The Ilkhanid Tiles of the Pir-i Bakran Mausoleum (Linjan, Isfahan)
  • Michael Hope: The Political Configuration of Late Ilkhanid Iran: A Case Study of the Chubanid Amirate (738–758/1337–1357)
  • Shafique N. Virani: An Old Man, a Garden, and an Assembly of Assassins: Legends and Realities of the Nizari Ismaili Muslims
  • Philip Henning Grobien: Modernity, Borders and Maps: Iran’s Ability to Advocate for its Borders During the Reign of Naser al-Din Shah

Excavations and researches at Shahr-i Sokhta 3

Ascalone, Enrico & Seyyed Mansur Seyyed Sajjadi (eds.). 2022. Excavations and researches at Shahr-i Sokhta 3. Tehran: Pishin Pazhuh.

The Iranian-Italian collaboration initiated with the 2016 agreement has, to date, allowed for a deeper understanding of the main historical dynamics of Shahr-i Sokhta, adding new knowledge to the extensive and fruitful excavation campaigns carried out by the Iranian mission between 1997 and 2015. The collaboration has resulted in the publication of three volumes in the series Excavations and Researches at Shahr-i Sokhta that are the fruit of the studies carried out to date.

This third volume presents the excavation and research activities carried out in Shahr-i Sokhta in 2018 and 2019, with contributions from researchers in the fields that make up the MAIPS core (archaeology, palaeoenvironmental studies, bioarchaeology and topography).

To see the table of contents, visit this page.


Sangtarashan, the Iron Age at the Pish Kuh of Luristan

Hashemi, Zahra, Mehrdad Malekzadeh & Ata Hasanpour. 2023. Sangtarashan, l’Âge du Fer au Pish Kuh du Luristan. Avec une étude “L’assemblage lithique de Sangtarashan” par Francesca Manclossi (Acta Iranica 62). Leuven: Peeters.

Le site archéologique de Sangtarashan est situé à l’ouest de l’Iran, dans la province du Luristan, au cœur de la chaîne montagneuse du Zagros. Découvert en 2002, il a fait l’objet de six campagnes de fouilles entre 2005 et 2011.

Dès les premières recherches, il est apparu que le site présentait des caractéristiques exceptionnelles. Au sein d’une structure circulaire en pierre, chevauchée par plusieurs autres constructions, les fouilles ont mis au jour plus de deux mille objets. Parmi eux, des centaines d’objets métalliques connus sous le nom de Bronzes du Luristan. Ces bronzes étaient enterrés par lot, insérés dans les murs ou éparpillés sur toute la surface du site.

L’étude architecturale et l’examen de la nature et de la distribution des objets conduisent à penser que le site de Sangtarashan serait un sanctuaire ayant connu deux phases d’occupation. Les dépôts de la première phase sont constitués d’armes et de vases enfouis dans le sol. Ceux de la seconde phase sont constitués d’objets isolés, de taille plus petite et de nature plus variée, déposés dans la maçonnerie des bâtiments. La première occupation daterait de l’Âge du Fer I-II, la seconde de l’Âge du Fer II-III (et peut-être même IV). L’hypothèse d’une fonction non cultuelle pendant la seconde phase n’est pas totalement écartée au regard de la prolongation des structures architecturales vers l’ouest et de la position des objets éparpillés sur toute la surface du site.

Avec Sorkhdom-i Lori, Sangtarashan est le deuxième sanctuaire de l’Âge du Fer de la région du Zagros central où les fidèles déposaient des objets dans le sol ou dans la maçonnerie des bâtiments. La richesse des objets métalliques découverts fait de Sangtarashan un site de référence pour l’étude des Bronzes du Luristan. L’analyse du matériel archéologique permet désormais de proposer une datation pour des objets jusqu’alors connus uniquement par des exemplaires issus de fouilles clandestines.


Sasanian and Islamic Settlement and Ceramics in Southern Iran

Priestman, Seth M. N. & Derek Kennet. 2023. Sasanian and Islamic settlement and ceramics in Southern Iran (4th to 17th century AD): The Williamson Collection Project (British Institute of Persian Studies Archaeological Monograph Series 8). Oxford: Oxbow Books.

This monograph comprises the final publication of a study supported by the British Institute of Persian Studies and undertaken by Seth Priestman and Derek Kennet at the University of Durham. The work presents and analyses an assemblage of just under 17,000 sherds of pottery and associated paper archives resulting from one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys ever undertaken on the historic archaeology of southern Iran. The survey was undertaken by Andrew George Williamson (1945–1975), a doctoral student at Oxford University between 1968 and 1971, at a time of great progress and rapid advance in the archaeological exploration of Iran.

The monograph provides new archaeological evidence on the long-term development of settlement in Southern Iran, in particular the coastal region, from the Sasanian period to around the 17th century. The work provides new insights into regional settlement patterns and changing ceramic distribution, trade and use. A large amount of primary data is presented covering an extensive area from Minab to Bushehr along the coast and inland as far as Sirjan. This includes information on a number of previously undocumented archaeological sites, as well as a detailed description and analysis of the ceramic finds, which underpin the settlement evidence and provide a wider source of reference.

By collecting carefully controlled archaeological evidence related to the size, distribution and period of occupation of urban and rural settlements distributed across southern Iran, Williamson aimed to reconstruct the broader historical development of the region. Due to his early death the work was never completed. The key aims of the authors of this volume were to do justice to Williamson’s remarkable vision and efforts on the one hand, and at the same time to bring this important new evidence to ongoing discussions about the development of southern Iran through the Sasanian and Islamic periods.

From the Oxbow website

NeHeT  7 

The issue 7 of the NeHeT journal is now available. The latest issue of this Egyptological journal is dedicated to reports of current research about Tell el-Herr and North Sinai under the direction of Catherine Defernz.

The following papers contribute to our understanding of the Achaemenid Egypt: