Iranica Antiqua, Volume 58

The table of contents of the latest issue (58) of the journal Iranica Antiqua:

  • Enrico ASCALONE, Pierfrancesco VECCHIO: Shahr-i Sokhta New Revised Sequence
  • Roberto DAN, Annarita S. BONFANTI: Seals and Sealing in Bia/Urartu. The Inscribed Seal
  • Hanna VERTIIENKO: A ‘Rooster-Man’ on the Gold Plate from Soboleva Mohyla
  • Eduard RUNG: On Metonomasia in the Achaemenid Dynasty
  • Marco FERRARIO: Just Send me Words. The Imperial Political Economies of Ancient Bactria
  • Rika GYSELEN, Hamid ZOHOORIAN: Deux sceaux sassanides avec le motif de l’autel du feu et la formule ātaxš … deh nišāst
  • D.T. Potts: The Antiquity and Nature of Horseshoeing in Iran
  • Clélia PALADRE: Rediscovering Mudbrick Architecture in Susa Fantasy or Reality?

The Oxford Handbook of Palmyra

Raja, Rubina (ed.). 2024. The Oxford handbook of Palmyra. New York: Oxford University Press.

The monumental remains of Palmyra (also known as Tadmor) have fascinated travelers and scholars for centuries. The Oxford Handbook of Palmyra gives a detailed analysis of the archaeology and history of this ancient oasis city in the Syrian Desert, spanning evidence from several millennia. With contributions from thirty archaeologists, epigraphists, historians, and philologists, this book covers the city’s archaeological findings and history from its earliest mentions in the pre-Roman era to the destruction of many of its monuments during the Syrian Civil War and the subsequent looting. The authors recap evidence and present significant new findings and analyses from fieldwork they or others undertook in Palmyra prior to the 2011 conflict and discuss the recent occupation by ISIS and calls to defend the site’s remains from current and future threats.


Caspian: Volume 1, Issue 1

Caspian is an international, peer reviewed journal, publishing high-quality, original research. Caspian is a journal devoted to archaeology, anthropology, history, art, linguistics, religion, epigraphy, and numismatics of the Caspian Sea region, encompassing both prehistoric and historic periods. The journal’s geographic range spans Caspian Sea Region, Caucasus, and Transoxiana.

Table of contents:

  • Shahin Aryamanesh: Introduction to the Inaugural Issue of Caspian
  • Shahin Aryamanesh: Obituary: Philippe Gignoux
  • Mehdi Rahbar: Miniature Motifs on the Ossuaries of the Bandian Dargaz Fire Temple
  • Seyed Rasoul Mousavi Haji; Mohammad Hasan Zaal; Mona Mousavi: The Study of the Factors Considered in Locating Eastern Guilan Castles (Case Study: Amlash Castles)
  • Arshak Iravanian: Archaeology and History of Nowshahr, Iran
  • Ajdar Mehriban Xosbext: Middle Persian Inscriptions of the Era of Khosrow Anushirvan in Darband, Caucasus (Dagestan)

Painting Materials in the Sasanian City of Ardaxšīr Khwarrah

Amadori, Maria Letizia, Valeria Mengacci Pierfrancesco Callieri, Alireza Askari Chaverdi, Matteo Bartolucci, Negar Eftekhari, Alessia Andreotti and Parviz Holakooei. 2024. Integrated investigations of painting materials in the Sasanian city of Ardaxšīr Khwarrah, near Firuzabad (Southern Iran). Heritage 7, 1202-1220.

Ancient Ardaxšīr Khwarrah, today known as Shahr-e Gur, situated near the modern town of Firuzabad in Fars, Iran, holds historical significance as the inaugural capital city of the Sasanian Empire. During archaeological excavations conducted in 2005 by an Iranian–German team directed by Mas‘oud Azarnoush and Dietrich Huff, a mud-brick complex was uncovered, revealing a remarkably well-preserved stretch of wall painting and a polychrome painted floor. The discovery prompted the hypothesis of a potential funerary context dating back to the Sasanian period. Both the wall painting and painted floor have suffered extensive deterioration attributed to the environmental conditions of the archaeological site, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2020. To address the urgent need for preservation and further understanding of the site’s artistic and structural elements, an emergency diagnostic project was initiated. Non-invasive investigations were carried out on the wall and floor by optical digital microscopy and portable energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence. Additionally, representative minute samples underwent analysis through various techniques, including micro-X-ray fluorescence, polarised light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, micro-Raman spectroscopy, micro-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and pyrolysis coupled with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The palette of the floor and mural paintings were identified to contain red and yellow ochres, lead-based pigments, carbon black and bone white. The unexpected presence of Egyptian blue mixed with green earth was recognised in the green hues of the wall painting. The detection of protein material in both the wall painting and polychrome floor indicates the use of “a secco” technique, thereby shedding light on the artistic practices employed in Ardaxšīr Khwarrah.


Studies in Silk Road Archaeology

Xia, Nai. 2024. Studies in Silk Road Archaeology. Wiesbaden: Springer.

This book is a collection of Nai Xia’s quintessential works on Silk Road studies. A key resource in the field of Silk Road Archaeology, it features in-depth content, a broad range of material, careful textual research, and meticulous analysis. With thorough investigations of foreign coinage, silk textiles, and artifacts with foreign styles excavated in different parts of China, it explores the exchange between ancient China and Central Asia, Western Asia, and Europe. In particular, this book provides detailed descriptions of the economic and cultural ties between ancient China, Pre-Islamic Arabia, the Sasanian Empire, and the Byzantine Empire. The research propounds innovative theories on the history and evolution of East-West transportation routes, i.e., the overland Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road. Based on the study of ancient relics and excavated artifacts, it points out that cultural exchange along the Silk Road was never unilateral, but instead, mutual influence and cooperation were obvious. Since ancient times, countries along the Silk Road have had a tradition of amicable foreign relations and the promotion of common interests. The book is intended for academics, scholars and researchers.


‘Emārat-e Kosrow on the High Road

Moradi, Yousef. 2023. ‘Emārat-e Kosrow on the High Road: Recent Archaeological Excavations. Ancient Near Eastern Studies 60: 93-147.

The question of how Perso-Sasanian traditions of palatial architecture developed over time, and to what degree these ideas and traditions influenced the Islamic conceptualisation of a royal space, remains a hotly contested topic. Part of the problem in answering these questions lies with the fragmented and often erroneous corpus of available data. European scholarship going back to the Victorian era has been laced with orientalist assumptions and strained reconstructions, and this bias has been allowed to continue to inform analyses up until this day. Another great problem has been the dissemination of results from archaeological work conducted by Iranian scholars, which has not attained the platform necessary to be widely read and used (perhaps, in part, due to language). This article endeavours to begin remedying these long-standing problems by providing the most comprehensive reassessment to date of the monumental late Sasanian complex known as the ‘Emārat-e Kosrow. The article challenges the established tropes by juxtaposing the extant scholarship with the comprehensive dataset produced by completely new archaeological investigations at the site. It is the author’s aim that the data provided by these excavations and the analysis of their results presented here will allow us to reconceptualise not only how this iconic Sasanian palace was actually constructed, but also to use this reconceptualisation as an empirical basis for rethinking the influence of Sasanian kingship theatres of power on those of the leadership of the early umma, and on the protocol carried out in them.


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