Commagene in its Local, Regional and Global Hellenistic Context

Blömer, Michael, Stefan Riedel, Miguel John Versluys & Engelbert Winter (eds.). 2021. Common Dwelling Place of all the Gods: Commagene in its Local, Regional and Global Hellenistic Conte (Oriens et Occidens Band 34). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

The history and archaeology of Hellenistic Commagene is a rich field of study, not in the least because of the remarkable monuments and inscriptions of king Antiochos I (c. 70–36 BC). Over the last decades important new work has been done on Commagene proper, providing novel interpretations of the epigraphical and historical record or the archaeological data and individual sites, like Nemrud Dağ, Samosata or Arsameia. Simultaneously scholars have tried to better understand Hellenistic Commagene by situating the region and its history in a wider Mediterranean and Near Eastern context. This long-awaited book provides a critical evaluation of all these new data and ideas on the basis of a theoretically embedded, state-of-the-art overview for the history and archaeology of Hellenistic Commagene. From this volume a new picture emerges in which Hellenistic Commagene is no longer understood as peripheral and out-of-the-ordinary, but as an important node in a global Hellenistic network, from Ai-Khanoum to Pompeii and from Alexandria to Armawir.

Table of Content

  • Rachel Mairs: ‘Ai Khanoum God with Feet of Marble’ . Reading Ai Khanoum through Commagene
    Stefan R. Hauser: ‘Hellenized Iranians?’ Antiochos I and the Power of Image
  • Matthew P. Canepa: Commagene Before and Beyond Antiochos I. Dynastic Identity, Topographies of Power and Persian Spectacular Religion 71
  • Helen Fragaki: Reversing Points of Reference. Commagene and the Anfushy Necropolis from Alexandria in Modern Scholarship
  • Margherita Facella: Sovereignty and Autonomy in the Hellenistic Coins of Commagene
  • Werner Oenbrink: The Late-Hellenistic Architecture of Commagene
    Lennart Kruijer & Stefan Riedel: Transforming Objectscapes in Samosata
    The Impact of the Palatial Complex
  • Bruno Jacobs: The Syncretistic Episode in Late-Hellenistic Commagene. The Greek-Persian Religious Concept of Antiochos I and the Ethnicity
    of the Local Population
  • Albert de Jong: Dynastic Zoroastrianism in Commagene: The Religion of King Antiochos
  • Rolf Strootman: Orontid Kingship in its Hellenistic Context. The Seleucid Connections of Antiochos I of Commagene
  • Anna Collar:  Time, Echoes and Experience. Perceiving the Landscape in Commagene
  • Giusto Traina: Armenia and the ‘Orontid Connection’. Some Remarks on Strabo, Geography 11,14,15
  • Lara Fabian: Beyond and Yet In-between. The Caucasus and the Hellenistic Oikoumene
  • Vito Messina: Beyond Greece and Babylonia. Global and Local at Seleucia on the Tigris
  • Orit Peleg-Barkat: Herodian Art and Architecture as Reflections of King Herod’s Many Faces
  • Stephan G. Schmid: Was There a Nabataean Identity – And If Yes, How Many?
  • Christoph Michels: ‘Achaemenid’ and ‘Hellenistic’ Strands of Representation in the Minor Kingdoms of Asia Minor
  • Monika Trümper: Delos Beyond East and West. Cultural Choices in Domestic Architecture
  • Annette Haug:  Decoscapes in Hellenistic Italy. Figurative Polychrome Mosaics between Local and Global
  • Achim Lichtenberger: Hellenistic Commagene in Context. Is ‘Global’ the Answer and Do We Have to Overcome Cultural ‘Containers’?

Iranian Diaspora and Persian Heritage in Asia Minor after the Achaemenids

Klingenberg, Andreas. 2021. Die ›Iranische Diaspora‹ in Kleinasien: Kontinuität und Wandel des persischen Erbes nach dem Ende der achaimenidischen Herrschaft (Asia Minor Studien 97). Bonn: Habelt.

Ancient Asia Minor was part of the Persian Empire for more than 200 years under the rule of the Achaimenid dynasty. It was only with the conquest of the Persian Empire by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great that Persian hegemony came to an end, and manifold political and cultural upheavals began in the former Persian territories. But what became of the numerous Persians and other Iranians who had come to Asia Minor in the course of establishing and consolidating their rule? What remained of two centuries of Persian rule? Researchers have long debated whether and in what form an ‘Iranian diaspora’ could survive beyond the fall of the Persian Empire. What previous research has had in common is the restriction to isolated testimonies or a limited selection of source documents. This book is the first comprehensive account of this topic that takes into account all available sources and, on this basis, arrives at a new assessment and reliable results: a notable ‘Iranian diaspora’ survived all the upheavals after the end of the Persian Empire, which in some places held on to its cultural traditions for many centuries afterwards and emerged as an independent group. In almost all parts of Asia Minor, traces of the former Persian presence can be discerned in personal and cultural continuities that prove a lasting, comprehensive “Achaimenid impact”. These traces are particularly evident in place and field names, in the spread of Iranian personal names, in the continued existence of Iranian sanctuaries and the worship of Iranian deities, as well as in the Iranian dynasties of the two kingdoms of Cappadocia and Pontos. An extensive section of material (registers) provides access to the scattered epigraphic findings on Iranian personal names and the religious elements dating back to the Persians, which have never been fully recorded.


Alexander der Große

Müller, Sabine. 2019. Alexander der Große. Eroberungen – Politik – Rezeption. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Alexander III. von Makedonien (356-323 v. Chr.) gilt als einer der größten Eroberer der Antike. Bereits zu seinen Lebzeiten wurden gezielt um seine Person und Politik Mythen gewoben. Seit der Antike polarisieren die schillernd konstruierten Kunstfiguren, zu denen Alexander stilisiert wurde. Fakten wurden dabei von Fiktionen überlagert. Sabine Müller dekonstruiert diese artifiziellen Images und zeichnet die Politik der historischen Person Alexander nach, der in den Traditionen seiner Dynastie, der Argeaden, stand und auf die politischen Zwänge innerhalb seines expandierenden Reichs achten musste.

Professor Dr. Sabine Müller ist Inhaberin des Lehrstuhls für Alte Geschichte an der Universität Marburg.

Source: Alexander der Große, Sabine Müller bei Dienst am Buch Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH


Alexander the Great in Persian Tradition

Manteghi, Haila. 2018. Alexander the Great in Persian tradition: History, myth and legend in medieval Iran. I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd.

Alexander the Great (356-333 BC) was transformed into a legend by all those he met, leaving an enduring tradition of romances across the world. Aside from its penetration into every language of medieval Europe, the Alexander romance arguably had its greatest impact in the Persian language. Haila Manteghi here offers a complete survey of that deep tradition, ranging from analysis of classical Persian poetry to popular romances and medieval Arabic historiography. She explores how the Greek work first entered the Persian literary tradition and traces the development of its influence, before revealing the remarkable way in which Alexander became as central to the Persian tradition as any other hero or king. And, importantly, by focusing on the often-overlooked early medieval Persian period, she also demonstrates that a positive view of Alexander developed in Arabic and Persian literature before the Islamic era. Drawing on an impressive range of sources in various languages – including Persian, Arabic and Greek – Manteghi provides a profound new contribution to the study of the Alexander romances.Beautifully written and with vibrant literary motifs, this book is important reading for all those with an interest in Alexander, classical and medieval Persian history, the early Islamic world and classical reception studies.

About the author:
Haila Manteghi is a lecturer at the University of Munster and recently completed her second PhD on the Persian Alexandrian tradition, at the University of Exeter. Her first PhD, on the same topic, was completed at the University of Alicante, and she has published in peer-reviewed journals and edited collections.


The Hellenistic Court

Erskine, Andrew, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones & Shane Wallace (eds.). 2017. The Hellenistic court: Monarchic power and elite society from Alexander to Cleopatra. Classical Press of Wales.

Hellenistic courts were centres of monarchic power, social prestige and high culture in the kingdoms that emerged after the death of Alexander. They were places of refinement, learning and luxury, and also of corruption, rivalry and murder. Surrounded by courtiers of varying loyalty, Hellenistic royal families played roles in a theatre of spectacle and ceremony. Architecture, art, ritual and scholarship were deployed to defend the existence of their dynasties. The present volume, from a team of international experts, examines royal methods and ideologies. It treats the courts of the Ptolemies, Seleucids, Attalids, Antigonids and of lesser dynasties. It also explores the influence, on Greek-speaking courts, of non- Greek culture, of Achaemenid and other Near Eastern royal institutions. It studies the careers of courtesans, concubines and ‘friends’ of royalty, and the intellectual, ceremonial, and artistic world of the Greek monarchies. The work demonstrates the complexity and motivations of Hellenistic royal civilisation, of courts which governed the transmission of Greek culture to the wider Mediterranean world – and to later ages.


Seleucid Research Bibliography, 1870-2017

Strootman, Rolf. 2018. Seleucid Research Bibliography 1870-2017.


The Portrait of a Hellenistic Ruler in the National Museum of Iran

Lindström, Gunvor. 2017. The Portrait of a Hellenistic Ruler in the National Museum of Iran. In  Daehner, Jens M., Kenneth Lapatin, and Ambra Spinelli (eds.), 198-204, Artistry in Bronze: The Greeks and Their Legacy (XIXth International Congress on Ancient Bronzes). Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum; Getty Conservation Institute.

The portrait of a Hellenistic ruler in the National Museum of Iran (inv. 2477) is the most prominent archaeological testimony of the Hellenistic presence in Iran. It shows the spread of Hellenistic largescale sculpture in the regions east of the Tigris River, of which there is otherwise very little evidence. Furthermore, it is one of the few preserved original Hellenistic large-scale bronzes. Nevertheless, this extraordinary piece of art is rarely illustrated in handbooks on Hellenistic sculpture or ruler portraits, and only a few specialists are familiar with this bronze. The head represents a ruler, likely a king of the Seleucid dynasty, which ruled Iran in the third and second centuries BC. But due to the portrait’s intense deformation, the ruler represented could not be identified until now. In August 2015 a project was started with the aim of reconstructing the original facial features. Although this aim has not been achieved, the investigations at the National Museum of Iran have already yielded extraordinary results.




The sixth issue of Historia i Świat (2017) has been published. Many papers of this issue are related to our interest:

  • Svyatoslav V. SMIRNOV: Notes on Timarchos’ Iconography: Dioscuri Type
  • Mozhgan KHANMORADI & Kamal Aldin NIKNAMI: An Analytical Approach to Investigate the Parthians Painted Stuccoes from Qal‘eh-i Yazdigird, Western Iran
  • Ilkka SYVÄNNE: Parthian Cataphract vs. the Roman Army 53 BC-AD 224
  • Morteza KHANIPOOR, Hosseinali KAVOSH & Reza NASERI: The reliefs of Naqš-e Rostam and a reflection on a forgotten relief, Iran
  • Gholamreza KARAMIAN & Kaveh FARROKH: Sassanian stucco decorations from the Ramavand (Barz Qawaleh) excavations in the Lorestan Province of Iran
  • Katarzyna MAKSYMIUK: The capture Ḥaṭrā in light of military and political activities of Ardašīr I
  • Michael Richard JACKSON BONNER: A Brief Military History of the Later Reign of Šapur II
  • Patryk SKUPNIEWICZ: The bullae of the spahbedan. Some iconographic remarks
  • Joan ZOUBERI: The role of religion in the foreign affairs of Sasanian Iran and the Later Roman Empire (330-630 A.D.)
  • Tomasz SIŃCZAK: New Russian view on Sassanid Empire. Polemic with book: М. Мочалов, Д. Полежаев, Держава Сасанидов 224 – 653 годы, Москва 2016

Cross-Cultural Communication in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, and Western and South Asia

Canepa, Matthew P. 2017. “Cross-Cultural Communication in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, and Western and South Asia,” In Richard J. A. Talbert & Fred S. Naiden (eds.), Mercury’s Wings: Exploring Modes of Communication in the Ancient World, 249-272, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This chapter explores the dynamics of cross-cultural communication, primarily among the kingdoms and empires of Western and South Asia after Alexander the Great. This period witnessed the rise, conflict, coexistence and fall of a succession of cross-continental empires, including that of the Seleucids (312-64 BCE) and Mauryas (321-185), as well as powerful regional powers with larger ambitions such as the Ptolemies of Egypt, the Diodotids and Euthymids of Bactria (ca. 25o–ca. 145), Sungas (185-73), and a variety of Indo-Greek kingdoms (ca. 185 BCE–ca. 10 CE). Several new Iranian-speaking elites, including the Parni, Saka, and Yuezhi, descended from the Central Asian steppes and eventually formed the Arsacid, Indo-Scythian, and Kusana empires, respectively. These Macedonian, Indian, and Iranian powers engendered an intensive period of diplomatic interaction and cultural exchange. While this chapter focuses first on peer-polity diplomatic communication, it also explores the relationship between direct, intentional communicative acts and the wider contexts of cross-cultural interaction in which they took place and to which they often contributed.


The Hellenistic Worlds

Michel Balard, Philippe Clancier, Omar Coloru & Gilles Gorre. 2017. Les mondes hellénistiques. Du Nil à l’Indus, Paris: Hachette.


The Hellenistic Worlds (323-31 BC) stretch from Anatolia to Indus and from Armenia to Egypt. These territories share the common feature of not belonging to the Greek cultural area and of hosting populations of different origins and cultures. The study of the societies pre-existing the Macedonian conquest provide an important element for the comprehension of the functioning of the new powers, of their structure and administration, and the creation of cultural transfers between communities. The sources corresponding to the area of expertise of each author, and the historiographical debate they engender are at the heart of this manual. After a chronological table, the chapters address issues concerning the administration of these territories, their economy, the role played by local shrines, and cultural aspects.

To see table of contents click here.