The Iranian Talmud

Secunda, Shai. 2013. The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in its Sasanian context. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

For the book, see here. Short abstract:

Although the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli, has been a text central and vital to the Jewish canon since the Middle Ages, the context in which it was produced has been poorly understood. Delving deep into Sasanian material culture and literary remains, Shai Secunda pieces together the dynamic world of late antique Iran, providing an unprecedented and accessible overview of the world that shaped the Bavli.


A goddess or a queen?

Shenkar, Michael. 2013. A goddess or a queen? On the interpretation of the female figure on the relief of Narseh at Naqš-e Rostam (in Russian). In Scripta Antiqua, vol. 3: Edward Rtveladze felicitation volume. Moscow.

Read there article here. Abstract:

The article offers a reassessment of the identity of the female figure found on the relief of the Sasanian king Narseh at Naqš-e Rostam. Based on iconographic analysis of the relief and discussion of the arguments put forward by A. Sh. Shahbazi and U. Weber, it is concluded that the figure is not a queen but rather a goddess. She is most probably to be identified with the goddess Anāhitā, to whom Narseh was perhaps personally devoted. This discussion is followed by a critical examination of the pictorial representations of Anāhitā in the pre-Islamic Iranian world. It is emphasized that Anāhitā was a western Iranian goddess whose worship was probably imported to Bactria after this part of the eastern Iranian world came under the rule of the Sasanian kings.


Sasanian elites and kinship ties

I found Prof. Macuch’s lecture at the FAMES, entitled Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances in Sasanian Law, very engaging. The lecture was in two parts. First, she gave an overview of the  Sasanian interpretation of kinship and discussed wealth, property management and inheritance. In the clearly structured introduction she defined the various models of matrimony such as fully qualified marriage, proxy, temporary and fictive marriages and their purposes. In the shorter second part she interpreted the social purpose of these legal institutions. She argued that the complex Sasanian legal system was carried by the Zoroastrian clergy and served to protect the elites’ wealth, preventing it from passing to commoners. In her view, the protection of wealth in this manner resulted in a two class society with a severe imbalance of wealth. She closed her lecture with the suggestion that this imbalance of wealth may have contributed to the collapse of the Sasanian Empire in the wake of the Islamic conquests.


Kinship ties and Sasanian law

Professor Maria Macuch to speak on Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances in Sasanian Law at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA on Friday 13 December at 5.30pm.