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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.

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Early Arsakid Parthia (ca. 250-165 B.C.)

Olbrycht, Marek Jan. 2021. Early Arsakid Parthia (ca. 250-165 B.C.): At the crossroads of Iranian, Hellenistic, and Central Asian history (Mnemosyne, Supplements 4040). Leiden: Brill.

In his new monograph Early Arsakid Parthia (ca. 250-165 B.C.): At the Crossroads of Iranian, Hellenistic, and Central Asian History, Marek Jan Olbrycht explores the early history of the Arsakid Parthian state. Making use of literary and epigraphic evidence as well numismatic and archaeological sources, Olbrycht convincingly depicts how the Arsakid dynasty created a kingdom (248 B.C.-A.D. 226), small at first, which, within a century after its founding, came to dominate the Iranian Plateau and portions of Central Asia as well as Mesopotamia. The “Parthian genius” lay in the Arsakids’ ability to have blended their steppe legacy with that of sedentary Iranians, and to have absorbed post-Achaemenid Iranian and Seleukid socio-economic, political, and cultural traditions.

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The Parthians: The Forgotten Empire

Ellerbrock, Uwe. 2021. The Parthians: The forgotten empire. London & New York: Routledge.

This volume provides a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of the Parthian Empire, which existed for almost 500 years from 247 BC to 224 AD.

The Parthians were Rome’s great opponents in the east, but comparatively little is known about them. The Parthians focuses on the rise, expansion, flowering and decline of the Parthian Empire and covers both the wars with the Romans in the west and the nomads in the east. Sources include the small amount from the Empire itself, as well as those from outside the Parthian world, such as Greek, Roman and Chinese documents. Ellerbrock also explores the Parthian military, social history, religions, art, architecture and numismatics, all supported by a great number of images and maps.

The Parthians is an invaluable resource for those studying the Ancient Near East during the period of the Parthian Empire, as well as for more general readers interested in this era.

Table of Contents:

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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.

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Persia (552 BCE-758 CE). Primary Sources, Old and New

Gyselen, Rika (ed.). 2020. Persia (552 BCE-758 CE). Primary Sources, Old and New (Res Orientales 28). Bures-sur-Yvette: Groupe pour l’Étude de la Civilisation du Moyen-Orient (GECMO).

The articles in this volume present, comment on and interpret primary sources from different eras: Achaemenid, Sasanian and post-Sasanian. While most of these sources were discovered in the 21st century, a few were already known. Recent Iranian surveys and excavations have uncovered: (1) new Sasanian sites in the region of Sar Mashad in the Pars, (2) Sasanian administrative bullae on Tappe Barnakoon, west of Isfahan, (3) a clay sealing with the impression of a royal seal of Peroz in Taxt-e Soleiman. New data for Sasanian numismatics come from unpublished coins in the Johnson collection. Three documents from the “Tabarestan Archive”, published in recent years, have been re-read and interpreted in the context of Zoroastrian law. Also, sources known from much longer have been the subject of new “readings”. They highlight that the message these inscriptions and royal objects convey is strongly conditioned by the type of ‘public’ to which it is addressed.

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Mithradates II

Sinisi, Fabrizio, Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Magub Alexandra, Pendleton Elisabeth Joy & Hopkins Edward C. D. Mithradates II. Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum Vologases I. – Pacorus II. (Denkschriften Der Philosophisch-Historischen Klasse 520).

The second volume of “Sylloge Nummorum Parthicorum” examines the history and culture of the reign of Mithradates II (c. 122/1¬‒91 BC), who consolidated and expanded the Parthian state. In addition to his coinage, the present volume draws on other primary sources, such as cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia, in order to illuminate an otherwise poorly known and documented period of ancient Iranian history. This publication by Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, Alexandra Magub, Elizabeth J. Pendleton and Edward C. D. Hopkins is an essential tool not just for numismatists, but also for historians and art historians, presenting various aspects of Parthian coinage: chronology, mint identification, the iconography within a broader Iranian context, typology and metrology. The catalogue offers a complete record of coin production under Mithradates II, illustrating and describing 1,996 coins from leading international institutions and other sources.

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Methods and models in ancient history

Mæhle, Ingvar, Per Bjarne Ravnå & Eivind Heldaas Seland (eds.). 2020. Methods and models in ancient history: Essays in honor of Jørgen Christian Meyer (Papers and Monographs from the Norwegian Institute at Athens 9). Athens: Norwegian Institute at Athens.

According to the institute, the publications of the Norwegian Institute at Athens are available on-line at the digital collection of the Bergen University Library. However, we have been unable to find a download link for the above volume. Please check the above website for updates.

Two papers of closer interest to scholars of Iranian Studies are available from the authors’ academia.edu pages:

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Rome, Parthia, and the Politics of Peace

Schlude, Jason M. 2020. Rome, Parthia, and the politics of peace: The origins of war in the ancient Middle East. London: Routledge.

This volume offers an informed survey of the problematic relationship between the ancient empires of Rome and Parthia from c. 96/95 BCE to 224 CE. Schlude explores the rhythms of this relationship and invites its readers to reconsider the past and our relationship with it.

Some have looked to this confrontation to help explain the roots of the long-lived conflict between the West and the Middle East. It is a reading symptomatic of most scholarship on the subject, which emphasizes fundamental incompatibility and bellicosity in Roman–Parthian relations. Rather than focusing on the relationship as a series of conflicts, Rome, Parthia, and the Politics of Peace responds to this common misconception by highlighting instead the more cooperative elements in the relationship and shows how a reconciliation of these two perspectives is possible. There was, in fact, a cyclical pattern in the Roman–Parthian interaction, where a reality of peace and collaboration became overshadowed by images of aggressive posturing projected by powerful Roman statesmen and emperors for a domestic population conditioned to expect conflict. The result was the eventual realization of these images by later Roman opportunists who, unsatisfied with imagined war, sought active conflict with Parthia.

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Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan (AMIT): Vol. 48

Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan (AMIT): Vol. 48, 2016 [2019], ed. by German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Tehran Branch of the Eurasia Department

The AMIT is the only German journal for archaeology and history of the Iranian-Middle Asian region; prehistory and early history, archaeology, history and art history of the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian empires as well as the Islamic Middle Ages in Iran and Turan and neighbouring regions. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag.

See here the Table of Content of vol. 48.

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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 …