Tag Archives: History

The Last Empire of Iran

Bonner, Michael Richard Jackson. 2020. The Last Empire of Iran (Gorgias Handbooks). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press LLC.

As part of the Gorgias Handbook Series, this book provides a political and military history of the Sasanian Empire in Late Antiquity (220s to 651 CE). The book takes the form of a narrative, which situates Sasanian Iran as a continental power between Rome and the world of the steppe nomad.

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The end of Middle East history

Bulliet, Richard. 2020. The end of Middle East history and other conjectures (Mizan Series 3). Harvard University Press.

The End of Middle East History and Other Conjectures is an unapologetic collection of imaginative essays from thought-provoking Middle East scholar Richard W. Bulliet. Not your ordinary think pieces, this volume collects for the first time Bulliet’s Big Bang–Big Crunch theory of Islamic history and his illuminating conception of the “Muslim South.” Speculations range from future political events to counterfactual histories of how reversal of the outcome of a 1529 battle might have profoundly altered history. After fifty years of posing and answering daring historical questions, Bulliet happily tackles an array of conjectures on subjects as diverse as the origin of civilization, the end of Middle East history, and future interpretations of the twentieth century.

Source: The End of Middle East History and Other Conjectures — Richard W. Bulliet | Harvard University Press

Music of a Thousand Years

Lucas, Ann. 2019. Music of a thousand years: A new history of Persian musical traditions. Oakland: University of California Press.

Iran’s particular system of traditional Persian art music has been long treated as the product of an ever-evolving, ancient Persian culture. In Music of a Thousand Years, Ann E. Lucas argues that this music is a modern phenomenon indelibly tied to changing notions of Iran’s national history. Rather than considering a single Persian music history, Lucas demonstrates cultural dissimilarity and discontinuity over time, bringing to light two different notions of music-making in relation to premodern and modern musical norms. An important corrective to the history of Persian music, Music of a Thousand Years is the first work to align understandings of Middle Eastern music history with current understandings of the region’s political history.

Source: Music of a Thousand Years by Ann E. Lucas | University of California Press

Ann E. Lucas is Assistant Professor of ethnomusicology in the Department of Music at Boston College, where she also teaches in the Islamic Civilizations and Societies Program. She is recognized for her work on music historiography of the Middle East.

A free open access ebook will be available upon publication of the book. Visit this link to find out more: www.luminosoa.org.

Gewaltsamer Herrschaftsübergang

Börm, Henning. 2019. Fragwürdige Ansprüche: Gewaltsamer Herrschaftsübergang im spätantiken Iran am Beispiel von Narseh und Bahrām Čōbīn. In Tilmann Trausch (ed.), Norm, Normabweichung und Praxis des Herrschaftsübergangs in transkultureller Perspektive (Macht Und Herrschaft 3), 187–224. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

[…] This chapter focuses on two cases in which men violently seized power during civil wars, examining which strategies were used to justify the breach of peace. The first case comes from 293 CE, when the Sasanian prince Narseh rebelled against his great-nephew Bahrām III; after his victory, he erected a monument in Pāikūlı̄ with an inscription in which he presented himself as a champion of the aristocracy who had led the resistance against an unlawful king. Only after the defeat of his opponents did Narseh raise his own claim to the throne. The second example analyzed in this chapter is the case of Bahrām Čōbı̄n, who did not belong to the royal family
and rebelled in 589 CE against King Hormizd IV. […]

The publisher offers a Table of Contents.

Ancient Knowledge Networks

Robson, Eleanor. 2019. Ancient knowledge networks: A social geography of cuneiform scholarship in first-millennium Assyria and Babylonia. London: UCL Press.

This book is currently available as open access from the publisher's website.

Ancient Knowledge Networks is a book about how knowledge travels, in minds and bodies as well as in writings. It explores the forms knowledge takes and the meanings it accrues, and how these meanings are shaped by the peoples who use it.

Addressing the relationships between political power, family ties, religious commitments and literate scholarship in the ancient Middle East of the first millennium BC, Eleanor Robson focuses on two regions where cuneiform script was the predominant writing medium: Assyria in the north of modern-day Syria and Iraq, and Babylonia to the south of modern-day Baghdad. She investigates how networks of knowledge enabled cuneiform intellectual culture to endure and adapt over the course of five world empires until its eventual demise in the mid-first century BC. In doing so, she also studies Assyriological and historical method, both now and over the past two centuries, asking how the field has shaped and been shaped by the academic concerns and fashions of the day. Above all, Ancient Knowledge Networks is an experiment in writing about ‘Mesopotamian science’, as it has often been known, using geographical and social approaches to bring new insights into the intellectual history of the world’s first empires.

Eleanor Robson is Professor of Ancient Middle Eastern History at UCL.

Lucan’s Parthians in Nero’s Rome

Nabel, Jake. 2019. Lucan’s Parthians in Nero’s Rome. Classical Philology 114(4). 604–625.

For an epic that recounts the horrors of civil war, Lucan’s poem refers with surprising frequency to an enemy far removed from the realm of Roman power: the eastern kingdom of the Parthians, a vast empire beyond the Euphrates ruled by the Arsacid royal family. No other foreign polity figures so prominently. The Parthians are said to have unleashed the strife between Caesar and Pompey by killing Crassus, the only man capable of suppressing the rivalry between the two commanders (1.98–108). They escape vengeance …

Empires of the sea

Wijk, Roy van. 2019. Contested hegemonies: Thebes, Athens and Persia in the Aegean of the 360s. In Rolf Strootman, Floris van den Eijnde & Roy van Wijk (eds.), Empires of the sea: Maritime power networks in world history (Cultural Interactions in the Mediterranean 4), 81–112. Leiden: Brill.

Empires of the Sea brings together studies of maritime empires from the Bronze Age to the Eighteenth Century. The volume aims to establish maritime empires as a category for the (comparative) study of premodern empires, and from a partly ‘non-western’ perspective. The book includes contributions on Mycenaean sea power, Classical Athens, the ancient Thebans, Ptolemaic Egypt, The Genoese Empire, power networks of the Vikings, the medieval Danish Empire, the Baltic empire of Ancien Régime Sweden, the early modern Indian Ocean, the Melaka Empire, the (non-European aspects of the) Portuguese Empire and Dutch East India Company, and the Pirates of Caribbean.

Source: Empires of the sea | Brill

Silk Roads

Whitfield, Susan (ed.). 2019. Silk roads: Peoples, cultures, landscapes. California: University of California Press.

The Silk Roads continue to capture the imagination of the public, and, in 2014, a section of the land routes was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Yet there was no single “Silk Road.” Instead, a complex network of trade routes spanned Afro-Eurasia’s mountains, plains, deserts, and seas. From silk to spices, religion to dance, traffic in goods and ideas was crucial to the development of civilizations through rich cultural interactions and economic activity.
Centered around the dramatic landscapes of the Silk Roads, this beautiful volume honors the great diversity of medieval Afro-Eurasian cultures. Each section—from steppe to desert to ocean—includes maps, a historical and archaeological overview and thematic essays by leading historians worldwide, as well as sidebars showcasing objects that exemplify the art, archaeology and architecture of the Silk Roads.


Source: Silk Roads by Susan Whitfield – Hardcover – University of California Press

The author of numerous books and articles on the Silk Roads and China, including Life Along the Silk Road and Silk, Slaves, and Stupas, Susan Whitfield is a scholar, curator, writer, lecturer, and traveler of the Silk Roads.

The Scythians

Cunliffe, Barry. 2019. The Scythians: Nomad warriors of the steppe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Brilliant horsemen and great fighters, the Scythians were nomadic horsemen who ranged wide across the grasslands of the Asian steppe from the Altai mountains in the east to the Great Hungarian Plain in the first millennium BC. Their steppe homeland bordered on a number of sedentary states to the south – the Chinese, the Persians and the Greeks – and there were, inevitably, numerous interactions between the nomads and their neighbours. The Scythians fought the Persians on a number of occasions, in one battle killing their king and on another occasion driving the invading army of Darius the Great from the steppe.
Relations with the Greeks around the shores of the Black Sea were rather different – both communities benefiting from trading with each other. This led to the development of a brilliant art style, often depicting scenes from Scythian mythology and everyday life. It is from the writings of Greeks like the historian Herodotus that we learn of Scythian life: their beliefs, their burial practices, their love of fighting, and their ambivalent attitudes to gender. It is a world that is also brilliantly illuminated by the rich material culture recovered from Scythian burials, from the graves of kings on the Pontic steppe, with their elaborate gold work and vividly coloured fabrics, to the frozen tombs of the Altai mountains, where all the organic material – wooden carvings, carpets, saddles and even tattooed human bodies – is amazingly well preserved.

Source: The Scythians – Barry Cunliffe – Oxford University Press

Barry Cunliffe is Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology, University of Oxford.

Studies on Pre-Islamic Iran and on Historical Linguistics

Lurje, Pavel (Ed.). 2019. Proceedings of the 8th European Conference of Iranian Studies. Held on 14–19 Sep. 2015 at the State Hermitage Museum and Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences, in St Petersburg. Vol. 1: Studies on Pre-Islamic Iran and on Historical Linguistics. St. Petersburg: The State Hermitage Publishers.

The volume incorporates articles presented by the participants of the Eighth European Conference of Iranian Studies (in St Petersburg 14–19 September 2015) which werefocused on Pre-Islamic Iran and on historical linguistics. The collected papers mirrorthe wide scope of Iranian studies of the present day: from business documents of Tumshuqin Xinjiangto those of the Syrian wars of the early Sasanians, from the etymology ofthe place-name Sudakto the pottery assemblages of Sistan of the Achaemenian period.The volume is addressedto Iranologists and specialists in neighbouring fields.

Table of Contents
  • Agustí ALEMANY: “Alans and Sogdians in the Crimea: on nomads, traders and Namengeschichten”
  • Pooriya ALIMORADI: “Zand-i Wahman Yašt: the New Persian version”
  • Pavel BASHARIN: “Proto-Indo-Iranian and Proto‑Iranian language contacts with Proto-North Caucasian”
  • Julian BOGDANI and Luca COLLIVA: “Activities of the Italian archaeological mission in Iraqi Kurdistan: a preliminary report”
  • CHING Chao-jung: “The four cardinal directions in Tumshuqese”
  • Emily J. COTTRELL, Micah T. ROSS: “Persian astrology: Dorotheus and Zoroaster, according to the medieval Arabic sources (8th – 11th century)”
  • Iris COLDITZ: “Women without guardianship”
  • Matteo COMPARETI: “The ‘eight divinities’ in Khotanese paintings: local deities or Sogdian importation”
  • Maryam DARA: “The comparison between the subjects and written patterns of Urartian and Old Persian royal inscriptions”
  • Matteo DE CHIARA: “Describing Pashto verbal morphology”
  • Bruno GENITO: “Building no 3 in Dahāne-ye Gholāmān, Eastern Iran (Sistan): an Achaemenid religious puzzle”
  • Sebastian HEINE: “Anmerkungen zur historischen Phonologie und Lexik des Kurdischen (Kurmanji)”
  • Camilla INSOM: “Reshaping sacred landscape: notes on Sufi cult in Sangaw village shrines”
  • Thomas JÜGEL: “The development of the object marker in Middle Persian”
  • Nargis J. KHOJAEVA: “Again to the question of localization of Avestan Airiianəm-Vaējō”
  • Mateusz M. KŁAGISZ: “Middle Persian Yōšt ī Fr(i)yān as Proppʼs folk-tale”
  • Jiulio MARESCA: “The pottery from Dahane-ye Gholaman (Sistan): the state of art”
  • Jafar MEHR KIAN, Vito MESSINA: “The sanctuary and cemetery of Shami: research of the Iranian-Italian joint expedition in Khuzistan at Kal-e Chendar”
  • S. Fatemeh MUSAVI: “Pahlavi and Sanskrit interpretations of Gāϑā 31, an analysis”
  • OGIHARA Hirotoshi: “Tumshuqese imperfect and its related forms”
  • Filip PALUNČIĆ: “Ossetic historical phonology and North-Eastern Iranian anthroponomastics from the North Pontic region 1st – 5th c. CE”
  • Gabriele PUSCHNIGG: “Functional variation in pottery repertoires from the Parthian and Sasanian period”
  • Chiara RIMINUCCI: “Parokṣakámá hi devàh „denn die Götter lieben das Mysteriöse“. Zur Komposition des Bahrām-Yašt”
  • Ehsan SHAVAREBI: “Sasanians, Arsacids, Aramaeans: Ibn al-Kalbī’s account of Ardashīr’s Western campaign”
  • Fahimeh TASALLI BAKHSH: “Speech representation in Yashts; a narratological approach”