Books

Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity

Author:
Richard E. Payne
Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity
Payne, Richard E. A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and Iranian Political Culture in Late Antiquity. Transformation of the Classical Heritage, LVI. Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2015.
Christian communities flourished during late antiquity in a Zoroastrian political system, as the Iranian Empire integrated culturally and geographically disparate territories from Arabia to Afghanistan into its institutions and networks. Whereas previous studies have regarded Christians as marginal, insular, and often persecuted participants in this empire, Richard Payne demonstrates their integration into elite networks, adoption of Iranian political practices and imaginaries, and participation in imperial institutions.The rise of Christianity in Iran depended on the Zoroastrian theory and practice of hierarchical, differentiated inclusion, according to which Christians, Jews, and others occupied legitimate places in Iranian political culture in positions subordinate to the imperial religion. Christians, for their part, positioned themselves in a political culture not of their own making, with recourse to their own ideological and institutional resources, ranging from the writing of saints’ lives to the judicial arbitration of bishops. In placing the social history of East Syrian Christians at the center of the Iranian imperial story, A State of Mixture helps explain the endurance of a culturally diverse empire across four centuries.
Richard Payne is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Near Eastern History at the University of Chicago.
Table of Contents:
1. The Myth of Zoroastrian Intolerance: Violence and the Terms of Christian Inclusion
2. Belonging to a Land: Christians and Zoroastrians in the Iranian Highlands
3. Christian Law Making and Iranian Political Practice: The Reforms of Mar Aba
4. Creating a Christian Aristocracy: Hagiography and Empire in Northern Mesopotamia
5. The Christian Symbolics of Power in a Zoroastrian Empire

Military Operations of Rome and Sasanian Iran

Author:
Katarzyna Maksymiuk

Military Operations of Rome and Sasanian Iran

Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. Geography of Roman-Iranian Wars. Military Operations of Rome and Sasanian Iran. Siedlce: Instytut Historii i Stosunków Międzynarodowych Uniwersytetu Przyrodniczo-Humanistycznego w Siedlcach, 2015.

Until the second half of the second century AD the border between Rome and Iran was marked by the Euphrates, with Mesopotamia regarded as an integral part of the Parthian state. In 224 AD the power in Iran was taken over by the Sasanians, who sought to regain influence over the territory previously ruled by the Parthians. The change of the dynasty in Iran was perceived as a threat to the position of Rome in the Near East. It has result a series of conflicts resumed shortly after the overthrow of Parthian rule and Ardašīr I’s foundation of the Sassanid Empire, known as Roman–Sasanian Wars.
This book is an expanded english translation of the in 2012 published original Geografia wojen rzymsko-irańskich. Działania Rzymu i Iranu w okresie sasanidzkim in Polish. The present work is primarily addressed to students and scholars of history. It presents a valuable collection of designing maps depicting topography of Roman-Iranian armed conflicts. The maps have been created on the basis of source texts reporting wars waged by Rome against the Sasanian Iran and only the towns and provinces which were mentioned by ancient writers while reporting specific conflicts have been marked. Moreover, the present work contains only maps of military operations in which Roman and Iranian armies directly participated.
The maps have been divided into three categories. The first of them is devoted to military conflicts, the second group concerns territorial changes resulting from the peace treaties while the third collection includes maps depicting changes to the Roman-Iranian border in particular time periods, a map showing territories of the Naṣrids and the Jafnids as well as a map of the Roman defense system in the south, known as Strata Diocletiana. Each of the maps is accompanied by a short description and references to the source texts on the basis of which it has been constructed.
The book is available via the academia personal page of the author.

About the Author:

Katarzyna Maksymiuk is a scholar of History of Ancient Near East and the member of the Department of History and International Relations, University of Natural Sciences and Humanities in Siedlce, Poland.

Sources and Documents for the Reconstruction of the Reign of Husraw I.

Author:
Christelle Jullien
Sources and Documents for the Reconstruction of the Reign of Husraw I.
Jullien, Christelle, ed. Husraw Ier: Reconstruction D’un Règne. Sources et Documents. Cahiers de Studia Iranica. Paris: Peeters Press, 2015.
The reign of Husraw I Anosirwan / Chosroes (531-579), the most remarkable one during the Sasanian dynasty, was pivotal in the history of Iran. During that period, far-reaching projects to restructure the state affected all strata of society, royal power was strengthened and the country experienced significant cultural development. No major scientific gathering was devoted to this subject, and here are published the proceedings of a symposium organized in Paris. Its aim was to bring together international scholars from various fields who work on often difficult-to-access or hitherto unpublished source material in several languages. The resulting interactions and intersecting perspectives help to piece together many facets of that reign, thus providing a rich contribution to the history of the East in the 6th century.
Table of Contents:
LES SOURCES OFFICIELLES DU RÈGNE DE HUSRAW Ier
  • Rémy BOUCHARLAT: “Monuments et sites archéologiques du « long VIe siècle » en Iran”
  • Andrea GARIBOLDI: “The Great “Restoration” of Husraw I”
  • Rika GYSELEN & Christelle JULLIEN: “Le Sakastān sous Husraw Ier. Approches croisées”
  • Nikolaus SCHINDEL: “The Mint System under Husraw I: Some Preliminary Remarks”
L’AUTORITÉ EN DÉBAT
  • François DE BLOIS: “Mazdak the Ancient and Mazdak the Last. Further Remarks on the
    History and Religious Typology of Mazdakism”
  • Maria MACUCH: “Legal Implications of Mazdakite Teaching According to the
    Dēnkard”
  • Florence JULLIEN: “Contacts et échanges mazdéo-chrétiens sous Husraw Ier. L’apport
    de textes syriaques contemporains”
ÉCHANGES ET INFLUENCES AUX FRONTIÈRES
  • Philip HUYSE: “Le règne de Husraw Ier aux yeux des historiographes
    protobyzantins”
  • Giusto TRAINA: “Husraw Ier et la question arménienne”
L’IMAGE DU ROI
  • Samra AZARNOUCHE: “La geste zoroastrienne de Husraw Ier selon la littérature moyenperse”
  • Michael Richard JACKSON BONNER & Didier MARCOTTE: “Chosroès Ier et Priscien : Entretiens de physique et de météorologie”
  • Michel TARDIEU: “Les curiosités scientifiques des rois : Chosroès Ier et Frédéric II
Christelle Jullien is research fellow of History of the CNRS—”Mondes iranien et indien”, Paris.

Zoroastrians and Christians in the Late Antique Sasanian Period

Author:
Philippe Gignoux
Zoroastrians and Christians in the Late Antique Sasanian Period
Gignoux, Philippe. 2014. Mazdéens et chrétiens en terre d’Iran à l’époque sassanide. (ed.) Matteo De Chiara & Enrico G. Raffaelli. (Serie orientale Roma 3). Roma: Scienze e Lettere.
The volume edited by M.D. Chiara and E.G. Raffaelli brings together forty-two articles by Philippe Gignoux on Zoroastrianism and Christianity in Sasanian Iran. The collection represents the Gignoux’s most important  contributions on those subject, written over a period of more than 40 years. The papers are divided in three cathegories: 1. Epigraphy, Onomastics Toponymy, 2. Comparative history of Zoroastrianism and 3. Syriac Christianity, each include articles with different subjects. This volume is a valuable and important collection for the scholars and students of Zoroastrianism and Chistianity in Sasanian Era as well for the scholars of the Ancient and Late Antique World.
Table of Contents:
I. EPIGRAPHIE, ONOMASTIQUE, TOPONYMIE
  • «Nouveaux toponymes sassanides» (1974).
  • «Notes d’épigraphie et d’histoire sassanides» (1975).
  • «éléments de prosopographie de quelques M?bads sasanides» (1982).
  • en collaboration avec L. Kalus, «Les formules des sceaux sassanides et islamiques: Continuité ou mutation?» (1982)
  • «Eléments de prosopographie: II. Les possesseurs de coupes sasanides» (1984).
  • «Les bulles sassanides de qasr-i Abu Nasr (collection du Musée de Téhéran)» (1974).
  • «Les bulles sasanides de qasr-i Abu Nasr (collection du Metropolitan Museum of Art)» (1985).
  • en collaboration avec R. Gyselen, «Sceaux de femmes à l’époque sassanide» (1989).
  • «Noms d’utensiles (Argenterie et Poterie) en moyen-iranien» (1990)
  • «Les nouvelles monnaies de Shāpūr II» (1990)
  • «D’Abnūn à Mâhân: étude de deux inscriptions sassanides» (1991).
  • «La signification du bas-relief sassanide de Sar-Mašhad» (1993).
  • «Les inscriptions en moyen-perse de Bandiān» (1998).
  • «On the New Pahlavi Documents from Central Asia» (1999).

II. HISTOIRE DU MAZDÉISME ET RELIGIONS COMPARÉES

  • «La signification du voyage extra-terrestre dans l’eschatologie mazdéenne» (1974).
  • «‘Corps osseux et âme osseuse’: Essai sur le chamanisme dans l’Iran ancien» (1979).
  • «Les voyages chamaniques dans le monde iranien» (1981).
  • «Une ordalie par les lances en Iran » (1983).
  • «Un témoin du syncrétisme mazdéen tardif: Le traité pehlevi des ‘Sélections de Zādsparam’» (1987).
  • «Dietary Laws in pre-Islamic and post-Sasanian Iran», (1994).
  • «La controverse dans le mazdéisme tardif» (1994).
  • «La doctrine du macrocosme-microcosme et ses origines gréco-gnostiques» (1994).
  • «The Notion of Soul (ruwān) in the Sasanian Mazdaeism» (1996).
  • «quelques réflexions sur la représentation du paradis» (1996).
  • «L’identité zoroastrienne et le problème de la conversion» (1997).
  • «On the Notion of Good Measure (paymān) and Other Related Philoso phical Concepts from the Dēnkard III » (2001).
  • «La continuité de la conduite morale dans le Zoroastrisme» (2000-2001).
  • «Les bases de la philosophie mazdéenne » (2001).
  • «Zamān ou le temps philosophique dans le Dēnkard III» (2003).
  • «L’eau et le feu dans le zoroastrisme» (2004).
  • «Ancient Iranian Religions and Shamanism» (2004).

III. LE CHRISTIANISME SYRIAQUE

  • «Sur quelques noms propres iraniens transcrits en syriaque» (1975).
  • «Titres et fonctions religieuses sasanides d’après les sources syriaques hagiographiques» (1980).
  • «Les noms des signes du zodiaque en syriaque et leurs correspondants en moyen-perse et en mandéen» (1988).
  • «Imago Dei: De la théologie nestorienne à Ibn Al ‘Arab?» (1992).
  • «Le traité syriaque anonyme sur les médications» (1988).
  • «Anatomie et physiologie humaine chez un auteur syriaque, Ahūhdemmeh» (1998).
  • «Sur quelques relations entre chrétiens et mazdéens d’après des sources syriaques» (1999).
  • «Une typologie des miracles des saints et martyrs perses dans l’Iran sassanide» (2000).
  • «Une croix de procession de Hérat inscrite en pehlevi» (2001).
  • «L’apport scientifique des chrétiens syriaques à l’Iran sassanide» (2001).
  • «La transmission de l’héritage grec aux Arabes par les Syriaques» (2005).

Talmud and the Sasanian: The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran

Author:
Jason Sion Mokhtarian

Mokhtarian, Jason Sion. 2015. Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests: The Culture of the Talmud in Ancient Iran. Berkeley. University of California Press.

Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests examines the impact of the Persian Sasanian context on the Babylonian Talmud, perhaps the most important corpus in the Jewish sacred canon. What impact did the Persian Zoroastrian Empire, as both a real historical force and an imaginary interlocutor, have on rabbinic identity and authority as expressed in the Talmud? Drawing from the field of comparative religion, Jason Sion Mokhtarian addresses this question by bringing into mutual fruition Talmudic studies and ancient Iranology, two historically distinct disciplines. Whereas most research on the Talmud assumes that the rabbis were an insular group isolated from the cultural horizon outside their academies, this book contextualizes the rabbis and the Talmud within a broader sociocultural orbit by drawing from a wide range of sources from Sasanian Iran, including Middle Persian Zoroastrian literature, archaeological data such as seals and inscriptions, and the Aramaic magical bowl spells. Mokhtarian also includes a detailed examination of the Talmud’s dozens of texts that portray three Persian “others”: the Persians, the Sasanian kings, and the Zoroastrian priests. This book skillfully engages and demonstrates the rich penetration of Persian imperial society and culture on the jews

TOC:

-List of Abbreviations
-Note on Translations, Transcriptions, and Manuscripts
-Acknowledgments
-Introduction
-1. The Sources and Methods of Talmudic and Iranian Studies
-2. Comparing Sasanian Religions
-3. Rabbinic Portrayals of Persians as Others
-4. Rabbis and Sasanian Kings in Dialogue
-5. Rabbis and Zoroastrian Priests in Judicial Settings
-6. Rabbis, Sorcerers, and Priests
-Conclusion: Rabbis, Sorcerers, Kings, and Priests in Sasanian Iran
About the Author:

Jason Sion Mokhtarian is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Khusro I and the martyrs of the Church of the East

Author:
Florence Jullien

Jullien, Florence. 2015. Histoire de Mar Abba, Catholicos de l’Orient. Martyres de Mar Grigor, Général en Chef du Roi Khusro Ier et de Mar Yazd-panah, Juge et Gouverneur (2Vols.), Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores Syri, 254 (Syriac Edition) & Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, Scriptores Syri, 255 (French Translation). Peeters.

The reign of Khusro I (531-579) was a key-period for the history of the Sasanian Empire. Nevertheless, sporadic persecutions of Christians converted from Zoroastrianism are attested. Among these martyrs, there were famous people of civil society such as Grigor Piran-Gusnasp, general-in-chief of the king’s armies, Yazd-panah, a high dignitary and judge, and ‘Awira, a courtier. The most famous was the Catholicos Mar Abba (540-552), who reunified the Church of the East after nearly twenty-five years of schism; canonist and exegete, he also restored ecclesiastical discipline which had been significantly weakened since 484. He is known to have been involved in Mazdeo-Christian controversies and polemical debates with West-Syrian Christians. These narratives written by contemporaries to the events are the only East-Syrian hagiographies of that time in Syriac; they provide valuable informations regarding socio-religious and political situation of the sixth century Orient. A critical edition based on manuscripts from the London, Berlin and Vatican Libraries, including a translation in French with a commentary, is presented for the first time.

An historiographical Study of Sasanian Iran

Author:
Jackson Bonner and Michael Richard
Jackson Bonner, Michael Richard, Al-Dinawari’s Kitab Al-Ahbar Al-Tiwal: An Historiographical Study of Sasanian Iran, Res Orientales, 23 (Bures-sur-Yvette: Peeters Press, 2015)
This book is a study of the pre-Islamic passages of Abu Hanifa Ahmad ibn Dawud ibn Wanand Dinawari’s Kitab al-Akhbar al-Tiwal. It is intended for scholars of Late Antiquity. Special emphasis is placed on Dinawari’s exposition of the rule of the Sasanian dynasty and questions relating to the mysterious Khudaynama tradition which are intimately connected with it. Beginning with a discussion of Dinawari and his work, the book moves into a discussion of indigenous Iranian historiography. Speculation on the sources of Kitab al-Akhbar al-Tiwal follows, and the historiographical investigation of the most substantial portion of Kitab al-Akhbar al-Tiwal‘s notices on the Sasanian dynasty comes next. The findings of the book are set out in a narrative of Sasanian history at the end.
This book was written with one main question in mind: what does Dinawari’s Kitab al-Akhbar al-Tiwal have to say about pre-Islamic Iranian history? A host of other questions arose immediately: who was Dinawari; when did he live; what did he do; how was his work perceived by others; where did Dinawari get his information and how did he present it; is Dinawari’s information reliable?
For more information, see the ToC of this volume.

Samarkand the Center of the World

Author:
Matteo Compareti

Compareti, Matteo. 2016. Samarkand the center of the world: proposals for the identification of the Afrasyab paintings. (Sasanika Series 5). Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers.

In antiquity Samarkand was the capital of the Persian province of Sogdiana. Its language, culture, and “Zoroastrian” religion closely approximated those of the Persians. Following its conquest by Alexander, its strategic position and fertile soil made Sogdiana a coveted prize for Late Antique invaders of Central Asia. Around 660 CE — at the dawn of Arab invasion — local king Varkhuman promoted the execution of a unique painted program in one of his private rooms. Each wall was dedicated to a specific population: the north wall, the Chinese; the west, the Sogdians themselves; the east, the Indians and possibly the Turks. The south wall is probably the continuation of the scene on the west wall. In Chinese written sources, some support for this concept of the “division of the world” can be found. Accidentally discovered during Soviet times, the room was named “Hall of the Ambassadors” due to the representations of different peoples. However, many aspects of its painted program remain obscure. This study offers new ideas for better identifications of the rituals celebrated by the people on the different walls during precise moments of the year.

Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran: From Gaumāta to Wahnām

Author:
Rahim M. Shayegan

Shayegan, M. Rahim. Aspects of History and Epic in Ancient Iran: From Gaumāta to Wahnām. Hellenic Studies Series 52. Washington, D.C./Cambridge, Mass.: Center for Hellenic Studies – Harvard University Press, 2012.

The purpose of the study is twofold. In the first part, it examines the content of one the most important inscriptions of the Ancient Near East: the Bisotun inscription of the Achaemenid king Darius I (6th century BCE), which in essence reports on a suspicious fratricide and subsequent coup-d’état. The study shows how the inscription’s narrative would decisively influence the Iranian epic, epigraphic, and historiographical traditions well into the Sasanian and early Islamic periods. Intriguingly, the author’s assessment of the impact of the Bisotun narrative on later literary traditions—in particular, on the inscription of the Sasanian king Narseh at Paikuli (3rd–4th centuries CE)—relies on the reception of the oral rendition of the Bisotun story captured by Greek historians.

In the second part of the study, Shayegan investigates how this originally oral narrative, preserved by Herodotus and other Greek and Latin authors, could impact the “historiographical” writings and epic compositions of later Iranian empires, such as the Sasanians, over nine centuries later. Not only do Sasanian inscriptions, especially the inscription of king Narseh at Paikuli, make use of the same story pattern that one encounters in the accounts of Greek and Latin authors describing Bardiya’s murder, especially with regard to the theme of two evil usurpers (called here Warahrān and Wahnām), but also the epic tradition, as reflected in the “Book of the Kings” (Šāhnāme), and the medieval romances called the “Book of Darius” (Dārābnāme), and “Samak, the ʿayyār” (Samak-e ʿAyyār) shows that the story of Bardiya’s murder had penetrated epic composition and had become part of the epic canon.

Finally, the study seeks to demonstrate that in Ancient, Late Antique, and Medieval Iran the interaction between epic and historiographical practices were varied and intricate. “Historical records” could be generated in conformity with the ideals of epic, or composed by being cast into the mold of the oral epic tradition, thereby losing their individual “historical” tenor to conform to the normative frame of the epic. An example in case is the (Indo)-Iranian epic theme of the Twins that decisively shaped the oral composition of the murder story of Bardiya and Gaumāta. However, the prestige of the oral rendition of the Bisotun must have been such that the theme of the two evil brothers was projected back (under new guise) into the oral epic tradition and replaced the older Iranian theme of the Twins, thus re-juvenating the thematic inventory of the epic tradition.
This study in conjunction with Shayegan’s recently published Arsacids and Sasanians: Political ideology in Post-Hellenistic and Late Antique Persia (Cambridge University Press, 2011) form the Vorarbeiten for a new history of the Sasanian empire, on which Shayegan is presently working.