The Persian World and Beyond

Garrison, Mark B. & Wouter F.M. Henkelman (eds.). The Persian world and beyond. Achaemenid and Arsacid studies in honor of Bruno Jacobs (Melammu Workshops and Monographs 6). Münster: Zaphon.

The 17 essays gathered in this festschrift celebrate the scholarship of Bruno Jacobs. While the range of topics in these essays is extensive, most relate to the Achaemenid world. They represent the diversity of Achaemenid studies as a discipline that Bruno Jacobs enriched with his many contributions and sparkling ideas. Some papers move beyond the Achaemenid period, notably the contribution on Parthian and Elymaean countermarks (S.R. Hauser), and acknowledge the breadth of Bruno Jacob’s research interests, which extend from Greece to eastern Iran, span the Mediterranean Bronze Age to the Roman period, and concern the disciplines of history, archaeology, art history, religion, and Iranology. Among others, M.C. Root examines “Medes and Iranian identity in the Achaemenid social imaginary” as represented in the Persepolis Apadana, while J. Wiesehöfer focusses on “Greek exiles in the Achaemenid Empire” and Chr. J. Tuplin on “The place of Cyropaedia in Xenophon’s oeuvre”. The “winged symbol in Persepolitan glyptic” is debated by M.B. Garrison and the roles of gold and wine in Herodotus’ depiction of the Persians by R. Bichler and K. Ruffing.


The Roman-Parthian border area as a conflict and contact zone

Hartmann, Udo, Frank Schleicher & Timo Stickler (eds.), Imperia sine fine? Der römisch-parthische Grenzraum als Konflikt- und Kontaktzone vom späten 1. bis zum frühen 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer.

Wenn Vergil Rom als ein “Reich ohne Grenzen” (Aen. 1, 279) bezeichnet, mag dies im übertragenen Sinn zutreffen, tatsächlich verfügte das Imperium jedoch über lange und tief gestaffelte Festlandgrenzen auf allen drei Kontinenten. Dabei kam der Orientgrenze besondere Bedeutung zu, da den Römern hier mit dem Reich der Parther eine ebenbürtige Gesellschaft entgegentrat. Allerdings stießen die beiden Großreiche nur selten unmittelbar aufeinander, da sich zwischen ihnen ein Saum von Kleinstaaten erstreckte. In diesem Grenzraum trafen nicht nur zwei große Reiche mit ihren jeweiligen Sprachen und Organisationsstrukturen, sondern auch Ackerbau und nomadische Weidewirtschaft, unterschiedliche religiöse Vorstellungen und verschiedene Rechtsauffassungen aufeinander.Der Band versammelt Beiträge der Jenaer Tagung “Imperia sine fine?”, die eine Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Aspekte des Grenzraums zwischen Rom und Parthien als Konflikt- und Kontaktzone vom 1. bis zum 3. Jh. n. Chr. darstellen.


Parthica (vol. 22)

Volume 22 of the journal Parthica (2020) contains several contributions of relevance to Iranian Studies.

  • Henri-Paul Francfort: Nisa Parthica rhyton nr. 76 : a note on images of hunt and deities in Central Asia : Saiga tatarica and steppe connection
  • Antonio Invernizzi: On the post-Achaemenid rock reliefs at Bisutun
  • Torben Schreiber: In the name of the King? : New considerations on the classification of seals from Hellenistic archive contexts
  • Alexander B. Nikitin & Vasif A. Gaibov: Sealings of the Parthian frontier
  • Vito Messina & Lucinda Dirven: Reproducing divine images in Hellenized Mesopotamia : the case of Nabu of Hierapolis at Hatra
  • Wathiq Al-Salihi: Architecture and layout of the ‘North Palace’ at Hatra

The Arsacids

Payravi Conference on Ancient Iranian History IV: Contextualizing Iranian History: The Arsacids (ca. 250 BC – 224 AD)

Poster © Kourosh Beigpour

Payravi Conference on Ancient Iranian History IV: “Contextualizing Iranian History: The Arsacids” organized by Touraj Daryaee, Matthew Canepa, and Robert Rollinger, will take place Feb. 28-March 2, 2022 and focus on the archaeology, history, numismatics, and religions of the Arsacid Empire. The event will be held in-person at the University of California, Irvine’s Jordan Center for Persian Studies with several options to participate remotely, either through the livestream on the UCI Jordan Center for Persian Studies & Culture‘s FB page or through the webinar:

Conference Program


Handbook of Ancient Afro-Eurasian Economies

Reden, Sitta von (ed.). 2021. Handbook of ancient Afro-Eurasian economies. Volume 2: Local, Regional, and Imperial Economies. Berlin: De Gruyter.

The second volume of the Handbook describes different extractive economies in the world regions that have been outlined in the first volume. A wide range of economic actors – from kings and armies to cities and producers – are discussed within different imperial settings as well as the tools, which enabled and constrained economic outcomes. A central focus are nodes of consumption that are visible in the archaeological and textual records of royal capitals, cities, religious centers, and armies that were stationed, in some cases permanently, in imperial frontier zones. Complementary to the multipolar concentrations of consumption are the fiscal-tributary structures of the empires vis-à-vis other institutions that had the capacity to extract, mobilize, and concentrate resources and wealth. Larger volumes of state-issued coinage in various metals show the new role of coinage in taxation, local economic activities, and social practices, even where textual evidence is absent. Given the overwhelming importance of agriculture, the volume also analyses forms of agrarian development, especially around cities and in imperial frontier zones. Special consideration is given to road- and water-management systems for which there is now sufficient archaeological and documentary evidence to enable cross-disciplinary comparative research.

This is an open-access volume. For information on the first volume, see here.

Articles Online resources

Orodes II

Olbrycht, Marek. 2021. Orodes II. In Encyclopædia Iranica Online, edited by Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York.

ORODES II (r. 58/57-37 BCE), king of Parthia, son of Phraates III (r. 70-57 BCE), and father of Phraates IV (q.v.). During his reign, the empire of the Arsacids (q.v.) reached the zenith of its power and scored significant victories against Rome.

From the entry

The Arsakid World (Anabasis, 10)

Volume 10 (2019) of Anabasis. Studia Classica et Orientalia is now out. This is a special volume, entitled “The Arsakid World: Studies on the History and Culture of Western and Central Asia” edited by Marek Jan Olbrycht and Jeffrey D. Lerner.


Parthian Coins and Culture

Curtis, Vesta Sarkhosh & Alexandra Magub. 2020. Rivalling Rome: Parthian coins and culture. London: Spink Books.

One hundred years after the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander of Macedon a new Iranian dynasty emerged that by 140 BC had extended its rule to Western Iran and Mesopotamia. The Arsacid Parthians, famous for their riding and archery skills, became Rome’s most dangerous enemies east of the River Euphrates. Encounters between Rome and Parthia are vividly described in classical accounts, but these are biased in their nature and, unfortunately, no equivalent sources are available from the Parthian side. Here, the most important primary source is the coinage of the period c. 248 BC – AD 224. 
These coins reveal important information about the development and expansion of the Parthian state, as well as the all-important role of the king, with the ancient Persian title King of Kings adopted under Mithradates II. Rome’s involvement in the region began during this reign and culminated in the devastating defeat of the Roman army under the general Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. Over the next 300 years these superpowers fought for territorial control in the region, particularly over Mesopotamia and Armenia.

Spink Books website

Women and Monarchy in Ancient Iran

Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly & Sabine Müller (eds.). 2021. The Routledge Companion to Women and Monarchy in the Ancient Mediterranean World. London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Portrait of Shapur III’s Wife. ca. 383-388 C.E. Onyx. BnF – Bibliothèque nationale de France (20.A.1)

This volume offers the first comprehensive look at the role of women in the monarchies of the ancient Mediterranean. It consistently addresses certain issues across all dynasties: title; role in succession; the situation of mothers, wives, and daughters of kings; regnant and co-regnant women; role in cult and in dynastic image; and examines a sampling of the careers of individual women while placing them within broader contexts. Written by an international group of experts, this collection is based on the assumption that women played a fundamental role in ancient monarchy, that they were part of, not apart from it, and that it is necessary to understand their role to understand ancient monarchies. This is a crucial resource for anyone interested in the role of women in antiquity.


Parthica (VOL. 21)

Volume 21 of the journal “Parthica” (2019) contains several contributions of relevance to Iranian Studies.

Table of contents:

  • K. ABDULLAEV: Symbols associated with temples and altars in the Middle East and Iran
  • L. OVERTOOM: A Reconsideration of Mithridates II’s Early Reign: A “Savior” Restores the Eastern Frontier of the Parthian Empire
  • R. MENEGAZZI: Beyond terracotta: observations on the bone and stone figurines from Seleucia on the Tigris
  • E. PAPPALARDO, V. MESSINA: The Maenad and the muse connectivity and appropriation of models in Hellenizing Mesopotamia and Parthia. Two case-studies from Seleucia on the Tigris and Old Nisa
  • W. AL-SALIHI: Remarks on the plan of the Temple of the Triad at Hatra
  • C. LIPPOLIS: Le acque di Nisa – Mitridatocerta (Turkmenistan)
  • C. LIPPOLIS, M. MAMEDOV, J. BRUNO, G. PATRUCCO: Preliminary note on the 2019 archaeological campaign of the Italian-Turkmen archaeological expedition to Old Nisa (Turkmenistan)
  • E. PAPPALARDO Il viaggio del Centauro. Arcesilao e la circolazione di modelli fra oriente e occidente
  • Y. MORADI Epigraphical and iconographical analysis of a Parthian bas-relief from Javanroud, Western Iran (with a note on the inscription by Seiro Haruta)
  • S. STARK, D. MIRZAAKHMEDOV, F. KIDD, S. MIRZAAKHMEDOV: New finds of terracotta figurines from Western (Bukharan) Sogdiana
  • Y. MORADI, M. COMPARETI: A Sasanian figured relief plaque from Taq-e Bostan