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Books

Studies on the History of Rationality in Ancient Iran. Vol. 2

König, Götz. 2022. Studien zur Rationalitätsgeschichte im älteren Iran. Band II (Iranica 28). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

While the first volume of A History of Rationality in Ancient Iran aims both to determine the significance of ancient Iran within the framework of the theory of the Axial Age (German Achsenzeit) and to point to some of the basic figures of a history of rationality that can be recognised in the Iranian materials and still extends to the present day, the second volume shown here serves above all to extend this analysis of figures into thematic fields that are essential for the understanding of Iran.

In three sections – “Substance and Spirit”, “Explorations of the World. The Becoming of History”, “The Path to Truth” – a total of 16 texts are brought together which, on the one hand, outline basic constellations and concepts of thought, as they characterise the (older and younger) Avesta in particular, and, on the other hand, trace the movements which emanate from precisely these formations of thought.

The second volume is preceded, as it were, by a counterpoint to the discussion of the axial perspective in the first volume, by a critique of the historical-philosophical definition and classification of Iran and Zoroastrianism, as developed by Hegel in his various series of lectures and as it has since then sustainably guided the view of Iran in ancient studies.

Table of Contents (PDF)

A Zu Hegels Sicht auf den Iran im Rahmen seiner Vorlesungen über Geschichte, Philosophie, Religion und Kunst

I Stoff und Geist

  • Notizen zur begrifflichen Entwicklung einer konstitutiven Dichotomie des Zoroastrismus: Geist und Stoff
  • Feuer und Wasser: Auskonstruktion eines Schein-Begriffs im altiranischen Dualismus
  • Avestische Elementenlehre
  • Natürliche und rituelle Elementenordnung im Avesta
  • Zur Frage einer antiken und spätantiken Vier-Elementen-Lehre in Iran
  • Natur und Naturgeschichte in Yašt 13

II Welterkundungen: Das Werden von Geschichte

  • Die Erschließung eines historisch-geographisch-politischen Raumes im Jungavesta
  • Ereignis und Ereigniszusammenhang im Jungavesta
  • Geschichte als Heil(ung)sprozess
  • Zaraθuštra und Geschichte
  • Anhang

III Der Weg zur Wahrheit

  • Der eine Weg der Wahrheit
  • Miθra und das Kriterium der Wahrheit
  • Zum Verhältnis von Ritus und Reflexion im Zoroastrismus
  • Das Potential der Freiheit im Zoroastrismus
  • Zum Stand der Sternenlehre im Jungavesta
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Events

The birth of the abestāg

Lecture by Arash Zeini: The birth of the abestāg from the spirit of philology. Please register online for Zoom participation.

زایش «اَبِستاگ» از روح فقه اللغة. سخنران: آرش زینی. برای شرکت در زوم لطفا آنلاین ثبت نام کنید.

Date: 11 January 2023; Time: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm Pacific time.

تاریخ و زمان: ۱۱ ژانویه ۲۰۲۳، ساعت ۲۲:۳۰ به وقت ایران

Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series

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Books

Sasanian Archaeology

Simpson, St John. 2022. Sasanian Archaeology: Settlements, Environment and Material Culture. Oxford: Archaeopress.

The Sasanian empire was one of the great powers of Late Antiquity, and for four centuries ruled the vast region stretching from Syria and the Caucasus to Central Asia. Classical, Armenian, Jewish and Arab written sources throw light on its history, and studies of its rock reliefs, stuccoes, silver, silks, coins and glyptic have created a picture of a rich courtly culture with a strong Iranian character. However, the everyday material culture is much less understood, as is the economy which sustained and supported the Sasanian empire and underpinned its consistent military superiority over its western rivals. This collection of essays looks at these aspects and offers an approach based almost entirely on archaeological and scientific research, much presented here for the first time. This book is divided into three parts which in turn examine evidence for Sasanian sites, settlements and landscapes, their complex agricultural resources, and their crafts and industries. Each section is preceded by an essay setting out the wider research questions and current state of knowledge. The book begins and ends with a general introduction and conclusion setting out why this new approach is necessary, and how it helps change our perceptions of the complexity and power of the Sasanian empire.

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Books

A New Translation of al-Balādhurī’s Futūh al-Buldān

Kennedy, Hugh (ed.). 2022. History of the Arab Invasions: The Conquest of the Lands -A New Translation of al-Balādhurī’s Futūh al-Buldān. London: Bloomsbury.

Ahmad bin Yahuya al-Baladhuri’s History of the Arab Invasions is perhaps the most important single source for the history of the great Arab conquests of the Middle East in the sixth and early seventh centuries. The author, who died in 892, was a historian working at court of the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad. He had access to a wide variety of earlier writings on the conquests and has preserved accounts that are not found anywhere else. But the book is much more than a series of accounts of battles. Baladhuri was very interested in the origins of the Islamic state and its institutions. His work contains a wealth of information about government, land-holding and economic developments. It is, in short, a key text for anyone interested in the formation of the Islamic world.

In this new modern translation, fully annotated with a scholarly apparatus and commentary on the places, events and individuals mentioned, a key source on the Arab conquests is made available in English. It will be essential reading for scholars and students of Islamic Studies and Middle East history.

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Books

The Parallel Lives of Ardashir I and Constantine the Great

O’Farrell, Matthew. 2023. Legendary Patterns in Late Antique Biography: The Parallel Lives of Ardashir I and Constantine the Great (Iran Studies, 23). Leiden: Brill.

A Memorial in the World offers a new appraisal of the reception and role of Constantine the Great and Ardashir I (the founder of the Sasanian Empire c.224-651), in their respective cultural spheres. Concentrating on marked parallels in the legendary material attached to both men it argues that the memories of both were reshaped by processes referencing the same deep literary heritage.

What is more, as “founders” of imperial systems that identified with a particular religious community, the literature that developed around these late antique figures applied these ancient tropes in a startlingly parallel direction. This parallel offers a new angle on the Kārnāmag tradition, an originally Middle Persian biographical tradition of Ardashir I.

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Books

The Sasanian Empire at War

Decker, Michael J. 2022. The Sasanian Empire at War. Persia, Rome, and the Rise of Islam, 224–651. Yardley: Westholme Publishing.

The Sasanian Empire at War: Persia, Rome, and the Rise of Islam, 224–651 is the first comprehensive study in English examining war and society in one of the most important empires in world history: the Persian Empire of 224-651 AD, ruled by the Sasanian clan. At its height the Sasanians governed lands from the Indus River in the east to Egypt and the Mediterranean in the west. Adversaries of Rome, they also faced grave challenges from nomadic powers from Central Asia, notably the Huns and Turks. The Sasanians were able to maintain their empire for hundreds of years through nearly constant warfare, but when their expansion was checked in the north by the Byzantines at Constantinople in 626, and with the Muslim invasions to their south and west beginning in the 630s, the empire could no longer be sustained, and it finally collapsed.

In this book, Michael J. Decker examines Sasanian warfare, including military capabilities, major confrontations, organization and weapons of the Persian army. In addition to providing a comprehensive overview of the conflicts that marked this vital period in the history of Eurasia, The Sasanian Empire at War challenges long cherished notions of the inferiority of Sasanian military capabilities and renders a new image of a sophisticated, confident culture astride the heart of Eurasia at the end of the ancient world and birth of the Silk Road. Persian arms were among the many features of their culture that drew widespread admiration and was one of the keys to the survival of Iranian culture beyond the Arab Conquest and into the present day.

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Books

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.

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Books

Mélanges: James Howard-Johnston

Booth, Phil & Mary Whitby (eds.). 2022. Mélanges: James Howard-Johnston (Travaux et mémoires 26). Paris: Association des Amis du centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance.

Apart from a brief stint as a Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, in 1968-9, James Howard-Johnston spent his entire academic career at Oxford University. After a period as Junior Research Lecturer at Christ Church from 1966-71, he was then University Lecturer in Byzantine Studies and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College until his retirement almost forty years later in 2009. In the mid-2000s he served briefly as interim president of Corpus. From 1972 to 1987 he was also passionately involved in local politics, serving as an Oxford City Councillor and Oxfordshire County Councillor. His retirement from politics was accompanied by a stream of publications that has continued to the present day.

Throughout his career, James cultivated a number of interests, for example, the political and military history of Byzantium, the Eurasian steppe, and the Sassanid empire; Byzantine historiography; medieval law and commerce; and, perhaps most importantly, the history of warfare, and in particular the “world crisis” that dramatically and permanently reorganized the Middle East during the seventh century. Readers of James’s bibliography through 2022, which we include at the beginning of this volume, will perceive the simultaneous cultivation of all these interests, but also a growing preoccupation with the seventh century, which intensified from the 1990s onward and culminated in two masterpieces of scholarship produced during his retirement-or, as James would put it in his typical self-deprecating style, his “defuncation.” The first, Witnesses to a world crisis, represents the distillation of many years of deep reflection on the various sources of seventh-century political history, as well as a profound reflection on the rise of Islam and the Arab conquests. The second (of which Witnesses is in many ways the prequel), The Last Great War of Antiquity, is now the first comprehensive history of the final conflict between the Roman and Iranian empires, a great subject of which James has long been the acknowledged master.

Some related contributions to the Iranian Studies in this volume:

Ainslie, Roger, Mohammad Arman Ershadi & Davit Naskidashvili: Qalʿeh Kharabeh in northern Iran: a Sasanian military tent city for ten thousand mounted soldiers?

Booth, Phil: Egypt under the Sasanians (619–29): “stability, continuity, and tolerance”?

Greenwood, Tim: Adontz, Armenia and Iran in late antiquity.

Gyselen, Rika: La géographie administrative de l’Empire sassanide: ce que le Šahrestānīha-ye Ērānšahr ne dit pas.

McLynn, Neil: Ammianus Marcellinus and the making of Persian strategy.

Taylor, David G. K.: The Syriac version of Strategios’ History of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem.

Vevaina, Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw: The Coals Which Were His Guardians…’: The Hermeneutics of Heraclius’ Persian Campaign and a Faint Trace of the ‘Last Great War’ in Zoroastrian Literature.

Wiesehöfer, Josef: Alfred von Gutschmid, Theodor Nöldeke and the beginnings of the Sasanian Empire.

Zychowicz-Coghill, Edward: The Byzantinist of Isfahan: Ḥamza ibn al-Ḥasan on Greek and Roman history.

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Books

A Universal History from the Late Sasanian Empire

Häberl, Charles G. 2022. The book of kings and the explanations of this world. A universal history from the late Sasanian Empire. Liverpool University Press.

The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran are adherents of the last surviving Gnostic tradition from the period of Late Antiquity, and the Book of Kings is the capstone to one of their most sacred scriptures. A universal history in four parts, it concisely outlines the entire 480,000 year span of the material world, from its creation to its destruction in the maw of the great Leviathan, with details including a succession of antediluvian cataclysms that have previously wiped out all human life, the reigns of the kings who have reigned over humanity and are still yet to reign, a lament on the end of pagan antiquity under the reign of the Arabs, and the apocalyptic drama attending those who have the misfortune to live at the end of the world era. For the first time ever, this work appears in English in its entirety, complete and unabridged, and directly translated from original Mandaic manuscripts, with the events mentioned within it coordinated with our calendar. It also includes an extensive commentary illustrating its relationship to contemporary historical writing and with the sacred literature of Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and other neighbouring religious communities living under Sasanian rule.

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Books

A Companion to Procopius of Caesarea

Meier, Mischa & Federico Montinaro (eds.). 2021. A companion to Procopius of Caesarea (Brill’s Companions to the Byzantine World 11). Leiden: Brill.

This volume offers an extensive introduction to 6th-century Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea, widely regarded as one of the last great historians of Antiquity. Procopius’ monumental oeuvre is our main contemporary source for an array of highly significant historical developments during the reign of Justinian I (527-565), ranging from warfare with Persia in the East and the reconquest of large parts of the Western Empire from the Goths and Vandals to aspects of social and economic history.

From the publisher website

Henning Börm has made the uncorrected proof of his article, Procopius and the East, available.