Les Céramiques Buff de Nishapur

Samavaki, Sheila. 2021. Les Céramiques Buff de Nishapur: L’étude iconographique des céramiques polychromes à décor figuratif, IXe-Xe siècles. Editions KPD.

En 1935, les fouilles entreprises par les chercheurs du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York ont révélé une série de céramiques très caractéristiques dans les ruines de la ville médiévale de Nishapur au nord-est de l’Iran. Ces céramiques étaient particulièrement distinctives pour leur représentation de scènes à figures humaines, animales et d’oiseaux, souvent sur un fond jaune vif, agrémenté des couleurs vert, noir et parfois rouge. Du fait de la couleur beige-jaunâtre de leur pâte, elles ont été appelées céramiques animate buff ware ou céramiques polychromes (rangârang en persan) pour la variété des couleurs. Elles ont été attribuées à Nishapur aux IXe-Xe siècle.


The Image of the Zoroastrian God Srōsh

Grenet, Frantz & Michele Minardi. 2021. The image of the Zoroastrian god Srōsh: New elements. Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia 27, 154-173.

Sogdian ossuary from Samarkand, ca. 7th century AD photo: F. Grenet

This paper presents new and decisive evidence relative to the identification of one of the colossal depictions of deities discovered by the Karakalpak-Australian Expedition (KAE) at Akchakhan-kala with the Avestan yazata Sraosha. Besides the therianthropic Sraošāvarez, the explicit Zoroastrian symbol that decorates the tunic of this god, new iconographic details are seen. One is the sraošō.caranā, which is a whip, “the instrument of Srōsh”, held in the hands of one of these “bird-priests” instead of the customary barsom. The symbols are presented and discussed in their historical context.


Religious Imagery in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia

Shenkar, Michael. 2019. Religious imagery and image-making in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia. In Christiane Gruber (ed.), The image debate: Figural representation in Islam and across the world. London: Gingko.

The Image Debate: Figural Representation in Islam and Across the World is a collection of thirteen essays which examine the controversy surrounding the use of images in Islamic and other religious cultures and seek to redress some of the misunderstandings that have arisen. Written by leading academics from the United States, Australia, Turkey, Israel and the United Kingdom, the book opens with an introduction by the editor Christiane Gruber, who sets the subject in context with a detailed examination of the debates over idols and the production of figural images in Islamic traditions. Twelve further articles are divided into three sections: the first deals with pre-modern Islamic practices and anxieties with image-making; the second addresses similar issues in Judaism, in Christianity during the Byzantine period, in pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia, and in Hindu and Buddhist contexts in South Asia; and the third brings the reader back to Islamic lands with five articles examining traditions of figural representation in the modern and contemporary periods.


Wēś in Early Kushan Coinage

Taasob, Razieh. 2020. Representation of Wēś in early Kushan coinage: Royal or local cult? Afghanistan 3(1). 83–106.

Wēś on a coin of Huvishka (© American Numismatic Society, 1944.100.63654)

The religious significance of Wēś is a widely debated topic in the historical and numismatic study of Central Asia, including contributions from several scholars who claimed that the representation of Wēś in early Kushan coinage, particularly in the coins of Vima Kadphises (ca. ce 113–127), was an allusion to the conversion of the king to Shivaism. This paper contests the claim that the certain attributes depicted with Wēś should not be construed as belonging to the Indian god Śiva or the Greek god Heracles. The royal portrait on the obverse of the coinage of Vima Kadphises shows the king taking part in the Iranian practice of sacrificing at a fire altar, which further supports the claim that the depiction on the reverse is of the Iranian god Wēś. This paper also challenges recent studies, which suggest that the representation of Wēś may have served only as a royal cult or merely to announce the personal faith of the king. Therefore, this account seeks to remedy this misconception by pointing to the absence of other types of coins used for normal transactions by ordinary people which could have likewise represented their religious cults. Consequently, this article shows that Wēś was a religiously syncretic phenomenon that displays the religious practice of all levels of Kushan society including both the king and the locals who were mostly Bactrian-Iranian during the early Kushan period rather than Indian.


Not the Queen Šābuhrduxtag but the Goddess Anāhitā

Goddess Anāhitā at the investiture of Narseh (c. 293-303), Naqš-e Rostam, Fārs, Iran

Tanabe, Katsumi. 2018. Not the Queen Šābuhrduxtag but the goddess Anāhitā: Identification of the female figure in the investiture scene of Narseh at Naqsh-i Rustam. Japan Society for Hellnistic-Islam Archaeological Studies 25. 9–26.

The rock-cut relief depicting the investiture scene of the Sasanian King of Kings, Narseh (293-302) at Naqsh-i Rustam in southern Iran has been investigated by many scholars since the beginning of the twentieth century CE . As regards the iconography of this relief, one of a few problems that have not yet gained scholarly consensus is the identification of the female figure depicted on the viewer’s rightmost side of the relief.

Currently there are two major hypotheses as regards the identification. One of them is to identify the female figure as the Zoroastrian goddess of water, Anāhitā (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā). The other is to identify it as the queen of Narseh, Šābuhrduxtag (Shāpuhrdukhtak).


The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands

Javier Álvarez-Mon. 2019. The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands: A Complete Inventory and Analysis (from the Seventeenth to the Sixth Century BC). Eisenbrauns.

The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands documents and analyzes for the first time a corpus of eighteen monumental highland reliefs from the Elamite civilization in ancient Iran, which—hitherto preserved by their remote location and anonymous existence—have recently become imperiled by an influx of tourists and the development of the surrounding landscapes. With this book, Javier Álvarez-Mon aims to safeguard this important part of Iran’s cultural heritage.
The eighteen reliefs presented in this volume are spread across the valley of Izeh/Malamir (Xong-e Azdhar, Shah Savar, Shekaft-e Salman, and Kul-e Farah), the Ghale Tol plain (Qal-e Tul), the Mamasani Fahliyan river region (Kurangun), and the Marvdasht plain (Naqsh-e Rustam). In his analysis of these reliefs, Álvarez-Mon draws from the complementary disciplines of art history and archaeology, giving equal weight to the archaeological context of these artifacts and traditional methods of artistic analysis in order to determine the nature and significance of each artifact’s form and theme. At the same time, the book’s dual emphases on ritual-religious and aesthetic-ecological phenomena respond to the contemporary challenges of the dissociation of human existence from nature and the commodification of the environment on an unsustainable scale, presenting the preservation of this remarkable corpus of monumental art as a matter of urgency.

Richly illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and line drawings, The Monumental Reliefs of the Elamite Highlands is sure to become an invaluable reference to scholars who study the Elamite and other ancient civilizations.



The table of contents of the latest issue (53) of the journal Iranica Antiqua:


A Seal Imprint from Old Nisa and the Iconography of Mithra

Sinisi, Fabrizio. 2017. A seal imprint from Old Nisa and the (Apollonian) iconography of Mithra. Studia Iranica 46(1). 9–30.

A seal impression from Old Nisa / Mithradatkart bearing the image of a deity is reexamined. It is suggested that the figure is depicted in the guise of Apollo in order to portray the Zoroastrian god Mithra. Other images of Apollonian derivation are discussed to track the iconographic development of the solar traits of Mithra.


Figures of two kings on a late Sasanian coin

Shavarebi, Ehsan. 2016. “Eine spätsasanidische Münze mit zwei Prägeherren“, Schweizer Münzblätter (Gazette numismatique suisse/Gazzetta numismatica svizzera) 66 (263), 63-66.


Religion, History and Art of Ancient Iran

Farridnejad et al. Faszination Iran — Cover 2015Farridnejad, Shervin, Anke Joisten-Pruschke & Rika Gyselen (eds.). 2015. Faszination Iran. Beiträge zur Religion, Geschichte und Kunst des Alten Iran. Gedenkschrift für Klaus Schippmann. (Göttinger Orientforschungen. III. Reihe: Iranica, Neue Folge 13). Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.

This Memorial Volume is dedicated to one of the most prolific and renowned scholars in the field of Ancient Iranian Archaeology and History, the late Professor Klaus Schippmann (1924-2010), who held the chair of “Near Eastern Archaeology with special reference to Iran” at Georg-August University of Göttingen until his retirement in 1990.

The volume consists of eleven papers, written by some of the foremost scholars in the field of Iranian Studies as well as some of his lifetime friends and colleagues. The articles are essentially concerned with different aspects of Ancient Iranian Art, Archaeology, History, Numismatics and Religion, reflecting the scholarly interests of Klaus Schippmann. The volume is accompanied also by parts of his unpublished private diary (1959) from his Nachlass, reflecting his ideas, visions and memories of his excavations as well as one report of his last trip to his favourable archaeological site of taḫt-e soleymān (Iran), written by his personal tour leader. The book is illustrated by numerous plates.

This volume could be of interest for scholars and students of Ancient Iranian Art, Archaeology, History, Religion and other neighbour disciplines.

Table of Contents (PDF):
  • In Memoriam Klaus Schippmann
  • Anke Joisten-Pruschke: „Ich muss irgendwie sehen, dass es für mich einen Weg gibt Archäologie zu studieren“ – Klaus Schippmanns Tagebuch einer Reise in den Vorderen Orient (1959)
  • Oric Basirov: “Proselytisation” and “Exposure of the Dead”:
    Two Christian Calumnies Commonly raised against the Sasanians
  • Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis: “Observations on some coins of Persis”
  • Touraj Daryaee: “The Xwarrah and the Sēnmurv: Zoroastrian Iconography on Seventh Century Copper Coinage
  • Shervin Farridnejad: “Das zoroastrische mār-nāme „Schlangenbuch“. Zur zoroastrischen Volksreligion und Ophiomantik”
  • Rika Gyselen: “Some Thoughts on Sasanian mgwh-Seals”
  • Bruno Jacobs: “Zur bildlichen Repräsentation iranischer Eliten
    im achämenidenzeitlichen Kleinasien”
  • Anke Joisten-Pruschke: “Feudalismus im Sasanidenreich?”
  • Wolfram Kleiss: “Hochterrassen – Zikkurati – Stufenpyramiden”
  • Karin Mosig-Walburg: “Herrscherpropaganda der Nachfolger Shapurs I. (Ohrmazd I. – Narse) – Ein Beitrag zum Verhältnis von König und Adel im Sasanidenreich in der zweiten Hälfte des 3. Jh. n. Chr.”
  • Michael Shenkar: “Aspects of Iconography of Ahura Mazdā: Origins and Significance”
  • Dieter Weber: “Spätsasanidische Preislisten im frühislamischen Iran”
  • Hartmut Niemann: “Der Kreis schließt sich – Klaus Schippmanns letzte Reise zum ‘Takht’ “