Iran and the Transformation of Ancient Near Eastern History

Daryaee, Touraj, Robert Rollinger & Matthew P. Canepa (eds.). Iran and the transformation of ancient Near Eastern history: The Seleucids (ca. 312–150 BCE) (Classica et Orientalia 31). Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz Verlag.

The Seleucid Empire presided over one of the most pivotal and creative periods of Iranian history, a fact that has often been elided or misunderstood in both ancient and modern historiography. Iran and the Transformation of Ancient Near Eastern History examines the Seleucid Empire within the context of ancient Iranian history from an interdisciplinary standpoint and seeks to integrate it more fully into the history of Iranian empires. It brings together a wide variety of perspectives, including landscape archaeology, art history, cuneiform studies, as well as political, economic, maritime and religious history. This volume presents the contributions of the conference on the same topic organized by the editors of this volume, which took place on February 24th–25th 2020 at the University of California Irvine (Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Iranian Studies), the third in the series of the “Payravi Conferences on Ancient Iranian History”.


The reign of the strongest

Coloru, Omar. 2022. Il regno del piú forte: La lunga contesa per l’Impero di Alessandro Magno (IV-III sec. A.C.). Roma: Salerno editrice.

Babilonia, giugno 323 a.C. La morte di Alessandro Magno getta lo scompiglio tra i Macedoni: chi dovrà succedere al trono di uno dei piú vasti imperi della storia se i due eredi legittimi sono un figlio che deve ancora nascere e un fratellastro affetto da un ritardo mentale? Si diffonde addirittura la voce che in punto di morte il sovrano abbia detto che lascerà il suo regno al migliore dei suoi generali. La competizione per l’eredità di Alessandro innesca una lotta di potere senza esclusione di colpi aprendo di fatto l’età dei Diadochi, i Successori di Alessandro che dopo decenni di conflitti daranno vita ai regni ellenistici. L’autore esplora le dinamiche in gioco in questo periodo mostrando come lo scenario geopolitico emerso dalle guerre sia stato plasmato dall’interazione dei fattori di forza e debolezza. Quello dei Diadochi è infatti un mondo precario in cui il potere va continuamente confermato, gli equilibri delle forze e i ruoli sociali si ribaltano in modo improvviso trasformando i forti in deboli e viceversa. Tra signori della guerra, avventurieri e regine combattive, l’età dei Diadochi cambierà per sempre il corso della storia nel Mediterraneo.

Table of contents:


I. Al migliore

1. Il migliore è il piú forte

2. La declinazione della forza

II. I deboli

1. Il problema della successione

2. Filippo Arrideo

3. Alessandro IV

4. Eracle

5. Le donne di Alessandro dopo Alessandro

5.1. Le principesse iraniche: Barsine, Parisatide, Rossane e Statira

5.2. Principesse e regine macedoni: Cinnane, Cleopatra, Euridice, Olimpiade e Tessalonice

6. Eumene di Cardia, un condottiero forte in una posizione debole

6.1. Da segretario a governatore

6.2. Il duello

6.3. Verso est

6.4. La fine

III. Violenza e terrore

1. Il potere della violenza

2. Crimini in famiglia

3. Crudeltà

4. Rex tremendae maiestatis






Indice dei nomi


Women and Monarchy in Ancient Iran

Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly & Sabine Müller (eds.). 2021. The Routledge Companion to Women and Monarchy in the Ancient Mediterranean World. London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Portrait of Shapur III’s Wife. ca. 383-388 C.E. Onyx. BnF – Bibliothèque nationale de France (20.A.1)

This volume offers the first comprehensive look at the role of women in the monarchies of the ancient Mediterranean. It consistently addresses certain issues across all dynasties: title; role in succession; the situation of mothers, wives, and daughters of kings; regnant and co-regnant women; role in cult and in dynastic image; and examines a sampling of the careers of individual women while placing them within broader contexts. Written by an international group of experts, this collection is based on the assumption that women played a fundamental role in ancient monarchy, that they were part of, not apart from it, and that it is necessary to understand their role to understand ancient monarchies. This is a crucial resource for anyone interested in the role of women in antiquity.


New Perspectives in Seleucid History, Archaeology and Numismatics

Roland, Oetjen (ed.). 2019. New perspectives in Seleucid history, archaeology and numismatics: Studies in honor of Getzel M. Cohen (Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 355). Berlin: De Gruyter.

Dedicated to Getzel M. Cohen, a leading expert in Seleucid history, this volume gathers contributions on Seleucid history, archaeology, numismatics, political relations, policy toward the Jews, Greek cities, non-Greek populations, peripheral and neighboring regions, imperial administration, economy and public finances, and ancient descriptions of the Seleucid Empire. The reader will gain an international perspective on current research.


The Seleukid Empire

Kyle Erickson (ed.). 2018. The Seleukid Empire, 281–222 BC. War within the family. Swansea: Classical Press of Wales.

The Seleukids, the easternmost of the Greekspeaking dynasties which succeeded Alexander the Great, were long portrayed by historians as inherently weak and doomed to decline after the passing of their remarkable first king, Seleukos (died 281 BC). And yet they succeeded in ruling much of the Near and Middle East for over two centuries, overcoming problems of a multi-ethnic empire.

In this book an international team of scholars argues that in the decades after Seleukos the empire developed flexible structures that successfully bound it together in the face of a series of catastrophes. The strength of the Seleukid realm lay not simply in its vast swathes of territory, but more in knowing how to tie the new, frequently non-Greek, nobility to the king through mutual recognition of sovereignty


The Hellenistic Court

Erskine, Andrew, Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones & Shane Wallace (eds.). 2017. The Hellenistic court: Monarchic power and elite society from Alexander to Cleopatra. Classical Press of Wales.

Hellenistic courts were centres of monarchic power, social prestige and high culture in the kingdoms that emerged after the death of Alexander. They were places of refinement, learning and luxury, and also of corruption, rivalry and murder. Surrounded by courtiers of varying loyalty, Hellenistic royal families played roles in a theatre of spectacle and ceremony. Architecture, art, ritual and scholarship were deployed to defend the existence of their dynasties. The present volume, from a team of international experts, examines royal methods and ideologies. It treats the courts of the Ptolemies, Seleucids, Attalids, Antigonids and of lesser dynasties. It also explores the influence, on Greek-speaking courts, of non- Greek culture, of Achaemenid and other Near Eastern royal institutions. It studies the careers of courtesans, concubines and ‘friends’ of royalty, and the intellectual, ceremonial, and artistic world of the Greek monarchies. The work demonstrates the complexity and motivations of Hellenistic royal civilisation, of courts which governed the transmission of Greek culture to the wider Mediterranean world – and to later ages.


Seleucid Research Bibliography, 1870-2017

Strootman, Rolf. 2018. Seleucid Research Bibliography 1870-2017.


Revolt and Resistance in the Ancient Classical World and the Near East

Collins, John & J.G. Manning. 2016. Revolt and Resistance in the Ancient Classical World and the Near East: In the Crucible of Empire. Leiden: Brill.

This collection of essays contains a state of the field discussion about the nature of revolt and resistance in the ancient world. While it does not cover the entire ancient world, it does focus in on the key revolts of the pre-Roman imperial world. Regardless of the exact sequence, it was an undeniable fact that the area we now call the Middle East witnessed a sequence of extensive empires in the second half of the last millennium BCE. At first, these spread from East to West (Assyria, Babylon, Persia). Then after the campaigns of Alexander, the direction of conquest was reversed. Despite the sense of inevitability, or of divinely ordained destiny, that one might get from the passages that speak of a sequence of world-empires, imperial rule was always contested. The essays in this volume consider some of the ways in which imperial rule was resisted and challenged, in the Assyrian, Persian, and Hellenistic (Seleucid and Ptolemaic) empires. Not every uprising considered in this volume would qualify as a revolution by this definition. Revolution indeed was on the far end of a spectrum of social responses to empire building, from resistance to unrest, to grain riots and peasant rebellions. The editors offer the volume as a means of furthering discussions on the nature and the drivers of resistance and revolution, the motivations for them as well as a summary of the events that have left their mark on our historical sources long after the dust had settled.

Table of contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction. John J. Collins and J. G. Manning
When is a Revolt not a Revolt? A Case for Contingency. Erich S. Gruen
Assyria and Babylonia
Revolts in the Assyrian Empire. Succession Wars, Rebellions against a False King, and Independence Movements. Karen Radner
Assyria’s Demise as Recompense: A Note on Narratives of Resistance in Babylonia and Judah Peter R. Bedford
Revolts in the Neo-Assyrian Empire: A Preliminary Discourse Analysis. Eckart Frahm
The Persian Empire
Xerxes and the Oathbreakers: Empire and Rebellion on the Northwestern Front. Matt Waters
Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes II, 401 BC. An Achaemenid Civil War Reconsidered. John Lee
Resistance, Revolt and Revolution in Achaemenid Persia. A Response. E. R. M. Dusinberre
The Ptolemaic Kingdom
Revolting Subjects. Empires and Insurrection, Ancient and Modern. Brian McGing
Revolts under the Ptolemies. A Paleoclimatological Perspective. Francis Ludlow and J. G. Manning
The Seleucid Empire
Resistance and Revolt. The Case of the Maccabees. Robert Doran
Temple or Taxes? What Sparked the Maccabean Revolt? John J. Collins
The Roman Empire
The Importance of Perspective. The Jewish-Roman Conflict of 66-70 CE as a Revolution James McLaren and Martin Goodman
Josephus, Jewish Resistance and the Masada Myth. Tessa Rajak
The Impact of the Jewish Rebellions, 66 – 135 CE. Destruction or Provincialization? Seth Schwartz


Studies on the Seleukid Empire between East and West

Engels, David. 2017. Benefactors, Kings, Rulers. Studies on the Seleukid Empire between East and West (Studia Hellenistica 57). Leuven: Peeters.

The present volume contains a series of critical studies devoted to the political, institutional and ideological construction of the Seleukid empire, with particular focus on the complex interplay between the Seleukids’ Graeco-Macedonian background and their Achaimenid heritage. In order to explore to what extent the Seleukids can be considered heirs to the Achaimenids and precursors of the Parthians, and to what extent they simply ‘imported’ cultural and political behavioural patterns developed in Greece and Macedonia, the studies collected here adopt a decidedly interdisciplinary and diachronic approach. They investigate diverse fields, including the construction of the Seleukid royal court; the title of ‘Great King’; the prosopography of early Seleukid Iran; the integration of the ‘Upper Satrapies’ into the new Seleukid empire; the continued importance of the Iranian religions under the early Seleukids; the reign of the Persian Frataraka; the ‘feudalisation’ of the Seleukid empire under Antiochos III; the construction of a Hellenistic gymnasion in Seleukid Jerusalem; the importance of the Seleukid kingdom as a model for Eunous’ Sicilian slave-state; the evolution of the Syrian civic elite; and the potential influence of Seleukos’ royal propaganda on the religious self-legitimation of Augustus. Finally, a general comparison is proposed between the Seleukid empire and 19th century European colonialism.


The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia

Pirngruber, Reinhard. 2017. The economy of late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. Cambridge University Press.

In this book Reinhard Pirngruber provides a full reassessment of the economic structures and market performance in Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia. His approach is informed by the theoretical insights of New Institutional Economics and draws heavily on archival cuneiform documents as well as providing the first exhaustive contextualisation of the price data contained in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. Historical information gleaned from the accounts of both Babylonian scholars and Greek authors shows the impact of imperial politics on prices in form of exogenous shocks affecting supply and demand. Attention is also paid to the amount of money in circulation. Moreover, the use of regression analysis in modelling historical events breaks new ground in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and gives new impetus to the use of modern economic theory. The book explains the theoretical and statistical methods used so that it is accessible to the full range of historians.

Source: The Economy of Late Achaemenid and Seleucid Babylonia | Reinhard Pirngruber