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Books

Waterways of Iraq and Iran in the early Islamic period

The waterways of ancient Iraq were crucial to its prosperity. While they were maintained, Iraq and neighbouring Khuzistan, in southwest Iran, were the richest and most productive agricultural areas of the Middle East, supporting the Sasanian, Umayyad and Abbasid empires. When the waterways changed or fell into decay, both the prosperity and the political role of Iraq largely disappeared. Understanding the course of the rivers and how they changed is therefore pivotal to understanding the history of the region. Peter Verkinderen’s important book provides the first major re-examination of the waterways of early Islamic Iraq in almost seventy years. Presenting a much fuller and more accurate picture than has previously been possible through analysis of modern satellite images, this is a work of the utmost importance, unlikely to be superseded for many years to come.
About the Author:
Peter Verkinderen (PhD) is research associate of Islamic Studies in the ERC Project “The Early Islamic Empire at Work – The View from the Regions Toward the Center”, at the University of Hamburg.
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Books

On Parthian and Sasanian Empires

OxbowSarkhosh Curtis, Vesta, Elizabeth Pendleton, Michael Alram & Touraj Daryaee (eds.). 2016. The Parthian and early Sasanian Empires: Adaptation and expansion (The British Institute of Persian Studies Archaeological Monographs Series V). Oxbow Books: Oxford.

Although much of the primary information about the Parthian period comes from coins, there has been much new research undertaken over the past few decades into wider aspects of both the Parthian and Sasanian Empires including the Arsacid Parthians, and their material culture. Despite a change of ruling dynasty, the two empires were closely connected and cannot be regarded as totally separate entities. The continuation of Parthian influence particularly into the early Sasanian period cannot be disputed. An historic lack of detailed information arose partly through the relative lack of excavated archaeological sites dating to the Parthian period in Iran and western scholars’ lack of knowledge of recent excavations and their results that are usually published in Persian, coupled with the inevitable difficulties for academic research engendered by the recent political situation in the region. Although an attempt has been made by several scholars in the west to place this important Iranian dynasty in its proper cultural context, the traditional GrecoRoman influenced approach is still prevalent. The present volume presents 15 papers covering various aspects of Parthian and early Sasanian history, material culture, linguistics and religion which demonstrate a rich surviving heritage and provide many new insights into ideology, royal genealogy, social organisation, military tactics, linguistic developments and trading contacts.

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Books

Excavating an Empire

Daryaee, Touraj, Ali Mousavi & Khodadad Rezakhani (eds.). 2014. Excavating an Empire:Achaemenid Persia in Longue Durée. Costa Mesa California: Mazda Publisher.

Study of empires and imperial power within the context of world history is a relatively recent subject within a field which itself is quite young. With the ever present discussions on the issue of globalization and increased contact among modern nation-states, a need to understand the long term trends in human and material interaction, and the means of controlling them, is increasingly felt in academia. Empires, as large units of administration which are often posited to have had an abusive relationship with their peripheries, are deemed viable subjects of study and inquiry in the pre-modern, pre-globalized world. On the other hand, the imposed frame work of modern nation-states on historiography, and the long trend in national, and often nationalistic historiography, similarly has encouraged a study of the empires which are thought to be ancestors of modern nations, from Italy and Rome to China and the Qing Empire. Among these, the Achaemenid Empire which ruled the Near East, and occasionally parts of North Africa, for about two centuries (late sixth to late fourth century BCE) is a curious and commonly neglected case. Often fitted within the national historiography of Iran, it is nonetheless acknowledged to have had a wider impact on the region beyond the borders of the modern nation-state.

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Articles

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.

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Articles

Sasanian glassware

Sasanian glassSimpson, St John. 2015. Sasanian glassware from Mesopotamia, Gilan, and the Caucasus. Journal of Glass Studies 57. 77–96.

This paper was presented at The Corning Museum of Glass in March 2014 as part of the symposium dedicated to the memory of the late David Whitehouse and entitled “A Life in Archaeology and Glass: Honoring David Whitehouse (1941-2013)”. It is now published in the Journal of Glass Studies (57), 2015. The subject is a first attempt to understand the role of Sasanian glass in the Caucasus and suggest this is the source of much of the imported Sasanian glass reportedly found in graves in north-west Iran.

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Articles

Approaches to Social Complexity in Kura-Araxes Culture

Alizadeh, Karim, Hamed Eghbal, and Siavash Samei. 2015. Approaches to Social Complexity in Kura-Araxes Culture: A View from Köhne Shahar (Ravaz) in Chaldran, Iranian Azerbaijan, Paléorient. 41(1),37-54.

Due to increasing investigations and studies of the Kura-Araxes cultural communities, our information about this enigmatic
archaeological culture has increased in many respects. Its interactions and regional variations in terms of cultural materials have been analyzed by many scholars. However, our knowledge about its societal variations is still very limited. We do not yet know much about social dynamics behind its material culture that spread out through vast regions in the Caucasus and the Near East. Indeed, there are some fundamental questions about the Kura-Araxes cultural communities that need further investigation. To address these questions, we focus on data collected from Köhne Shahar, a Kura-Araxes site in the Chaldran area of the Iranian Azerbaijan. We concentrate on two major features of the site that we have explored during the past three years: the fortification wall and the stratigraphy. Analysis of the site’s large fortification wall suggests that external threat and conflict could have played a role in the development of political complexity at Köhne Shahar. We further argue that there is a great potential at Köhne Shahar for addressing social complexity and suggest that further investigations at the site may shed more light on social dynamics in the Kura-Araxes cultural communities.

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Books

Studies on the Pre-Islamic Iranian World

Krasnowolska, Anna & Renata Rusek-Kowalska (eds.). 2015. Studies on the Iranian World I. Before Islam. Krakow: Jagiellonian University Press.
This volume is the proceedings of the Seventh Conference of Iranian Studies of the Societas Iranologica Europaea (ECIS7), organized by Societas Iranologica Europaea (SIE), which took place in Cracow, September 7-10, 2011. The first of the two volumes of the ECIS7 proceedings is dedicated to the pre-Islamic Iranian studies.
Table of Contents
Linguistics:
  • Maria Carmela Benvenuto, Flavia Pompeo: “The Old Persian Genetive. A Study of a Syncretic Case
  • Saloumeh Gholami: “Nominal Compound Strategies in Middle Iranian Languages”
  • Paolo Ognibene: “Alan Place-names in Western Europe”
  • Christiane Reck: “Work in Progress: The Catalogue of the Buddhist Sogdian Fragments of the Berlin Turgan Collection”
  • Arash Zeini: “Preliminary Remarks on Middle Persian <nc> in the Pahlavi Documents”
Literature:
  • Elham Afzalian: “Autoritäten im Mādayānī Hazār Dādestān”
  • Iris Colditz: “Two Snake-Brothers on their Way — Mani’s Scripture as a Source of Manichaean Central Asian Parabels?”
  • Seyyedeh Fatemeh Musavi: “Fictional Structure of the Middle Persian Ayādgār ī Zarērān
Religion:
  • Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst: “Aspects of Hymnology in Manichaean Community in Turfan”
  • Raffaella Frascarelli: “Arǝdvī Sūrā Anāhitā: Considerations on the Greek ἀρχἡ”
  • Judith Josephson: “Ohrmazd’s Plan for Creation according to Book Three of the Denkard”
  • Götz König: “The Pahlavi Translation of Yašt 3″
  • Kianosh Rezania: “On the Old Iranian Social Space and its Relation to the Time Ordering System”
History:
Archaeology:
  • Alireza Askari Chaversi: “In Search of the Elusive Town of Persepolis”
  • Jukian Bogdani, Luca Colliva, Sven Stefano Tilia: “The Citadel of Erbil. The Italian Archaeological and Topographic Activities”
  • Carlo G. Cereti, Gianfilippo Terribili, Alessandro Tilia: “Pāikūlī in its Geographical Context”
  • Niccolò Manassero: “New Sealings from Old Nisa”
  • Vito Messina, Jafar Mehr Kian: “The Hong-e Azhdar Parthian Rock Relief Reconsidered”
 About the Editors:

Anna Krasnowolska is a professor at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Jagiellonian University.

Renata Rusek-Kowalska is an assistant professor at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Jagiellonian University.

Categories
Articles

Merv, an archaeological case-study from the northeastern frontier of the Sasanian Empire

Simpson, St John. 2014. Merv, an archaeological case-study from the northeastern frontier of the Sasanian EmpireJournal of Ancient History. 2(2), 1-28.

This paper re-examines some of the latest archaeological evidence from Merv, beginning with the oasis, followed by the city and finally with aspects of the urban economy. It concludes with a brief exploration of how this cumulative evidence matches that from some other regions of the Sasanian Empire, including frontier regions such as Gorgan, and the Mesopotamian heartlands, and argues that cross-regional archaeological comparison throws new light on how the
Sasanian state effectively managed its resources.

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Books

The Historiography of Persian Architecture

Gharipour, Mohammad (ed.). 2015. The Historiography of Persian Architecture. (Iranian Studies 29). New York, NY: Routledge.

Historiography is the study of the methodology of writing history, the development of the discipline of history, and the changing interpretations of historical events in the works of individual historians. Exploring the historiography of Persian art and architecture requires a closer look at a diverse range of sources, including chronicles, historical accounts, travelogues, and material evidence coming from archaeological excavations.

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Books

The archaeology of Elam

Potts, D. T., 2015. The archaeology of Elam: Formation and transformation of an ancient Iranian state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Second edition.

Elam was an important state in southwestern Iran from the third millennium BC to the appearance of the Persian Empire and beyond. Less well-known than its neighbors in Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Levant or Egypt, it was nonetheless a region of extraordinary cultural vitality. This book examines the formation and transformation of Elam’s many identities through both archaeological and written evidence, and brings to life one of the most important regions of Western Asia, re-evaluates its significance, and places it in the context of the most recent archaeological and historical scholarship. The new edition includes material from over 800 additional sources, reflecting the enormous amount of fieldwork and scholarship on Iran since 1999. Every chapter contains new insights and material that have been seamlessly integrated into the text in order to give the reader an up-to-date understanding of ancient Elam.