Tag Archives: Sasanian

From Albania to Arrān

Hoyland, Robert (ed.). 2020. From Albania to Arrān: The East Caucasus between the ancient and Islamic worlds (ca. 330 BCE–1000 CE) (Gorgias Studies in Classical and Late Antiquity 25). Georgia Press.

This volume is the first publication in English to discuss the nature and identity of the polity in the East Caucasus referred to by modern scholars as (Caucasian) Albania. The sporadic and fragmentary character of our sources for this polity means that it is difficult to construct a continuous narrative of its history, and so we offer here studies by leading specialists on particular aspects of it: geographical extent, religious and political machinations, material culture, interactions with neighboring states and key historical developments.

A number of contributions in this volume relate to Iran, which is why we announce the book rather than single articles.

Studies on Sasanian Persia

Daryaee, Touraj & Matteo Compareti (eds.). 2019. Studi sulla Persia sasanide e suoi rapporti con le civiltà attigue (Studia Persica 1) [Studies on Sasanian Persia and its relations with neighboring civilizations]. Bologna: Paolo Emilio Persiani.

Studi sulla Persia sasanide – La dinastia dei Sasanidi (224-651 CE) rappresenta a detta di molti studiosi una sorta di “età dell’oro” dell’arte e della civiltà persiana. Nonostante un corposa mole di informazioni su questo popolo si sia conservata grazie all’opera di autori greci e latini a loro contemporanei – nonché successivamente da arabi e persiani – poco resta nelle fonti dirette, rappresentate principalmente da qualche iscrizione ufficiale fatta incidere su pietra dalla numismatica e dalla glittica. Questo volume, nato dagli interventi dei massimi studiosi e conoscitori dell’ambito, raccoglie dieci saggi tratti da due convegni svoltisi in Italia e negli Stati Uniti tra il 2010 e il 2017. In particolare, vengono qui discussi vari aspetti del piano politico, sociale e religioso dell’impero sasanide e delle civiltà ad esso attigue, con lo scopo di far rivivere un’epoca molto feconda per la cultura e l’arte persiana, attribuendo un particolare rilievo a quelle che sono le testimonianze conservate nei testi scritti e nelle opere d’arte figurativa.

Pregnancy in Middle-Persian Zoroastrian Literature

Delaini, Paolo. 2019. Pregnancy in Middle-Persian Zoroastrian Literature: The Exchange of Knowledge between India, Iran, and Greece in Late Antiquity. In Costanza Gislon Dopfel, Alessandra Foscati & Charles Burnett (eds.), Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Premodern World, 29–51. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.

In Late Antiquity Sasanian court patronage attracted philosophers, medical doctors, and teachers from the former Roman Empire. Contemporary observers noted that the court of the Sasanian King Xusraw I (AD 531–79) was a meeting place open to philosophical debates and to the diffusion of medical knowledge. According to tradition, King Xusraw welcomed the Greek philosopher Damascius and the ‘seven sages of Byzantium’ to his ancient capital of Ctesiphon at the time of their expulsion from Athens’s school of philosophy. It seems that this king was deeply interested in medicine; he invited and hosted numerous Byzantine doctors and financially supported Abraham of Beth Rabban, director of the influential Nisibis School, in his endeavour to build a hospital (xenodocheion).

Delaini offers in his article a cross-cultural analysis of pregnancy and childbirth traditions in Middle Persian Zoroastrian Literature.

Menstrual Impurity and Difference in Babylonian Judaism and its Sasanian Context

Secunda, Samuel. 2020. The Talmud’s red fence: Menstrual impurity and difference in Babylonian Judaism and its Sasanian context. New York: Oxford University Press.

The Talmud’s Red Fence explores how rituals and beliefs concerning menstruation in the Babylonian Talmud and neighboring Sasanian religious texts were animated by difference and differentiation. It argues that the practice and development of menstrual rituals in Babylonian Judaism was a product of the religious terrain of the Sasanian Empire, where groups like Syriac Christians, Mandaeans, Zoroastrians, and Jews defined themselves in part based on how they approached menstrual impurity. It demonstrates that menstruation was highly charged in Babylonian Judaism and Sasanian Zoroastrian, where menstrual discharge was conceived of as highly productive female seed yet at the same time as stemming from either primordial sin (Eve eating from the tree) or evil (Ahrimen’s kiss). It argues that competition between rabbis and Zoroastrians concerning menstrual purity put pressure on the Talmudic system, for instance in the unusual development of an expert diagnostic system of discharges. It shows how Babylonian rabbis seriously considered removing women from the home during the menstrual period, as Mandaeans and Zoroastrians did, yet in the end deemed this possibility too “heretical.” Finally, it examines three cases of Babylonian Jewish women initiating menstrual practices that carved out autonomous female space. One of these, the extension of menstrual impurity beyond the biblically mandated seven days, is paralleled in both Zoroastrian Middle Persian and Mandaic texts. Ultimately, Talmudic menstrual purity is shown to be driven by difference in its binary structure of pure and impure; in gendered terms; on a social axis between Jews and Sasanian non-Jewish communities; and textually in the way the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds took shape in late antiquity.

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The law code of Simeon, Bishop of Rev-Ardashir

Harrak, Amir (ed.). 2020. The law code of Simeon, Bishop of Rev-Ardashir (Texts from Christian Late Antiquity 57). Piscataway: Gorgias Press LLC.

The Law Code of Simeon of Rev-Ardashir, originally written in Persian, was translated into Syriac by an anonymous monk of Bēṭ-Qatrāyē. The Code’s author, possibly to be identified with a rebellious metropolitan mentioned in the letters of Patriarch Īšoʿ-yahb III (the early 7th cuntary), aims to clarify theoretical scriptural law, and to address family matters including inheritance and the role of slave. Presented in the form of questions and answers, the law book consists of 22 chapters and begins with some reflections on the sources of Christian law, for which the author gives priority to the tradition of the Fathers. The new edition is based on a single manuscript housed at the Vatican Library. This Law Code had been previously published by Sachau with German translation and noted and comments (1914). 

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Outline
  • Law of Moses
  • Acts of Synods
  • Code of Īšōʿ-yahb the Catholicos
  • Consensus
  • Equivalent Retaliation (lex talionis)
  • Manuscript
  • Previous Editions and Translations
  • Summary
  • Text and Translation
  • The apology of the One who was Asked by Him (=Bishop Simeon) to Translate this Book from Persian to Syriac
  • Forward of the Book: Justification (of Simeon) Addressed to the One Who Requested from Him to Put in Writing the Book
  • Chapter One: What Goal Does the Teaching of Our Lord Have, and Why He did not Lay Down Any Law Concerning Juridical Decisions?
  • Chapter Two: Why Do We Not Practice Law on the Basis of Mosaic Law?
  • (Chapter Three): Concerning the Origins of Past and Present Laws Practiced in the Church
  • Beginning of All Laws
  • Bibliography of Works Cited

Amir Harrak is full professor at the University of Toronto. His specialty is Aramaic and Syriac languages and literatures. His many publications deal with Syriac epigraphy, chronography, and cataloguing of manuscripts.

This book announcements is prepeared and written by Hossein Sheikh-Bostanabad (independent scholar).

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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Rome, Persia, and Arabia

Fisher, Greg. 2019. Rome, Persia, and Arabia: Shaping the Middle East from Pompey to Muhammad. London and New York: Routledge.

Rome, Persia, and Arabia traces the enormous impact that the Great Powers of antiquity exerted on Arabia and the Arabs, between the arrival of Roman forces in the Middle East in 63 BC and the death of the Prophet Muhammad in AD 632.

Richly illustrated and covering a vast area from the fertile lands of South Arabia to the bleak deserts of Iraq and Syria, this book provides a detailed and captivating narrative of the way that the empires of antiquity affected the politics, culture, and religion of the Arabs. It examines Rome’s first tentative contacts in the Syrian steppe and the controversial mission of Aelius Gallus to Yemen, and takes in the city states, kingdoms, and tribes caught up in the struggle for supremacy between Rome and Persia, including the city state of Hatra, one of the many archaeological sites in the Middle East that have suffered deliberate vandalism at the hands of the ‘Islamic State’. The development of an Arab Christianity spanning the Middle East, the emergence of Arab fiefdoms at the edges of imperial power, and the crucial appearance of strong Arab leadership in the century before Islam provide a clear picture of the importance of pre-Islamic Arabia and the Arabs to understanding world and regional history.

Rome, Persia, and Arabia includes discussions of heritage destruction in the Middle East, the emergence of Islam, and modern research into the anthropology of ancient tribal societies and their relationship with the states around them. This comprehensive and wide-ranging book delivers an authoritative chronicle of a crucial but little known era in world history, and is for any reader with an interest in the ancient Middle East, Arabia, and the Roman and Persian empires.

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.

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.

Sasanian Elements in Byzantine, Caucasian and Islamic Art and Culture

Asutay-Effenberger, Neslihan & Falko Daim (eds.). 2019. Sasanidische Spuren in der byzantinischen, kaukasischen und islamischen Kunst und Kultur | Sasanian Elements in Byzantine, Caucasian and Islamic Art and Culture (Römisch Germanisches Zentralmuseum 15). Bonn: Verlag Schnell & Steiner.

The Sasanian Empire (224-651 AD) spreads over areas of today’s Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Caucasus regions were also under its political influence. Many elements of Sasanian art and culture can be found in neighboring countries and cultures, such as Byzantium or the Christian Caucasus, and continued to live after the Sasanian fall in the Islamic dominions that developed on their former territory. To examine the continuing role and the survival of Sasanian art after the fall of the last Persian Empire, an international conference was held in September 2017 at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum in Mainz. The contributions of scholars from different disciplines are published in this volume.