Sunday, February 26, 2012

Open Access Journal: e-Sasanika: Original Articles

 [First posted 7/26/10, most recently updated 11 June 2013]

e-Sasanika: Original Articles

Should Sasanian Iran be Included in Late Antiquity?

Michael G. Morony, University of California, Los Angeles
Red-King-headWhen Peter Brown published The World of Late Antiquity, AD 150-750 in 1971 he included the Sasanians. That seems to have been the first time that happened in English, although Franz Altheim and Ruth Stiehl had entitled their study of Sasanian taxation Finanzgeschichte der Spätantike in 1957. However the latter was only about Sasanian Iran and not a general treatment of finance in Late Antiquity that included the Sasanians. ... READ MORE

The Romance of Artaban and Artašir in Agathangelos’ History

Gohar Muradyan, Matenadaran Institute, Yerevan; Aram Topchyan, Matenadaran Institute, Yerevan
defaultThe Armenian History by Agathangelos written in the mid‐5th century and nar‐rating about the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in the early fourth century was soon translated into Greek and other languages: Arabic, Old Russian, and Georgian. There also exist shorter re¬cen¬sions (known as The Life of St. Gregory) in Karshuni, Ethio‐pian, Coptic, Greek, Georgian, Latin, and Arabic. The Greek version of the History is extant in nine manuscripts dating from the 8th‐12th cc. Only one of them, kept in the Laurentian library of Florence, Plut. VII, cod. Gr. 25 (12th c.), contains nine initial para‐graphs absent from the Armenian original and from the other recensions. ... READ MORE

Sasanian Reflections in Armenian Sources

Tim Greenwood, University of St Andrews
defaultThe deep impression of Iran upon all aspects of early mediaeval Armenia has long been recognized. Although linguists may have taken the lead in tracing this influence, scholars in all disciplines, particularly historians and theologians, have unearthed multiple parallels and connections between the two cultures. The penetrating studies by Garsoïan and Russell over the past four decades have proved to be particularly influential, to the extent that no scholar today would seriously contemplate studying early mediaeval Armenia without acknowledging its Iranian heritage.1 Indeed such is the degree of unanimity over the level of Iranian influence upon all aspects of Armenian society and culture that the contention has begun to operate in the opposite direction. Armenian sources have been exploited to shed light upon Iranian, and specifically Sasanian, history. ... READ MORE

An Exceptional Gold Coin of Shapur I

Armine Zohrabyan, History Museum of Armenia
ShapurCoinRecently we have had a chance to see a unique gold coin of Shapur I. Unfortunately the location of this coin today is unknown to us. At first sight, the coin looks like the usual issues of Shapur I (particularly the iconography in obverse), but exploration of some details in reverse give us cause to suppose that it was minted for a certain occasion. Shapur I continued the regional policy of his predecessor, Artashir I, from the beginning of his reign. A series of victories against the Roman Empire opened the way to conquer Armenia, which was the main success of Sasanian Iran in the West. Shapur I represented his glorious victories against Roman Empire in rock sculpture and took a new title, king of kings Iran and non‐Iran, as a result of his successful policy. ... READ MORE

Like Father, Like Daughter: Late Sasanian Imperial Ideology & the Rise of Bōrān to Power

Haleh Emrani, University of California, Los Angeles
BoranGoldCoinI-smThe reign of Bōrān and, afterwards that of her sister Āzarmīgduxt, although short‐lived, were historically significant. No other woman ascended the Sasanian throne, in her own rights, before or after them. The significance is even greater in view of the social and cultural limitations placed on women in Sasanian Iran, as discussed in the studies presented by scholars such as Jamsheed K. Choksy, Albert De Jong, and Mansour Shaki. This paper investigates the factors that legitimized the rise of these women to the throne through the examination of the ideas of Iranian kingship in general and Sasanian imperial ideology in particular. ... READ MORE

Historical Geography of Fars during the Sasanian Period

Negin Miri, University of Sydney
Miri-map-smThere are few studies in existence which explore the Sasanian historical geography. The pioneering work of Marquart on the historical geography of the Sasanian Empire in the book of Ps.- Moses of Chorene is one of the earliest studies of its kind. Later discoveries of numismatic and sigillographic finds, as well as publications on and editions of literary and material evidence, relevant to the historical geography and administrative organization of the Sasanian Empire did not change things dramatically, but did help to complete and in some cases correct early impressions. During the last decades R. Gyselen and Ph. Gignoux have significantly contributed to the field of Sasanian historical and administrative geography through their publications and scrutiny of the sigillographic, numismatic and written sources. ... READ MORE

Spāhbed Bullae: The Barakat Collection

Touraj Daryaee, University of California, Irvine; Keyvan Safdari, University of California, Irvine
esasanika-12-fimageThis article brings to light some ten Spāhbed bullae which are housed at the Barakat Gallery in London. Their provenance is unknown, but they are dominantly (seven) from the kust ī nēmrōz “Southeastern Quarter” of the Sasanian Empire. There is also a bulla from kust ī xwarōfrān “Southwestern Quarter,” another from the kust ī xwarāsān “Northeastern Quarter,” and a unique, mostly illegible and unpublished bulla among the collection as well. Before dealing with the Barakat collection it is important to provide a historiography of the study of the Spāhbed bullae and its significance for Sasanian history and civilization. ... READ MORE

The State of Research on Sasanian Painting

Matteo Compareti, Venice, Italy
Compareti-smDespite very recent discoveries – which are, however mainly fortuitous ones – the archaeology of pre-Islamic Iran is still badly known. This is particularly true for the Sasanian period (224-651), a kind of “golden age” for Persian art and culture that is remembered in later Islamic sources as the apogee of the Persian Empire. It is a well-known fact that written sources are practically absent in pre-Islamic Iran if one excludes official inscriptions in Pahlavi on rock reliefs and the coinage. For this reason, the archaeological investigation should have an important role in the reconstruction of the Sasanian past. ... READ MORE

Sasanian Law

Jany Janos, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary
defaultThe proper term for law is the Middle Persian dād although the meaning of dād is more complex than the Western concept of law. In fact, several texts attest to the dual meaning of dād as both law and religion, sometimes understood as a religious law, sometimes as a synonym of religion, sometimes as a secular law or the king’s command. It is only the context of the text which is helpful to decide which meaning was referred to. In the Pahlawi Riwāyat Accompanying the Dādestān ī Dēnīg dād has the dual meaning of religion and law: ’when someone goes over from the (religious) law to which he belongs to another law he is margarzān, because he is deserting the Good Religion, and he is taking up this bad law’. ... READ MORE

The Coins of 3rd Century Sasanian Iran and the Formation of Historical Criteria

Rika Gyselen, C.N.R.S. France
gyselen-smThis paper aims to show how a numismatist can isolate a coin type that provides evidence about a particular political situation, whose real nature has to be discovered by the historian. We show first how, from a corpus of more or less representative coinage (A), the numismatic scholar can identify a series of coinage (B). If the scholar believes that the series has a sufficient number of typological and stylistic characteristics that distinguish it from general coinage production, he/she will attribute it to a specific source, that is, to a specific mint (C1). ... READ MORE

A Strange Date on Sasanian Drachms of Kavad I

François Gurnet
Gurnet-coin-smThe reign of Kavad the first is probably the most interesting in Sasanian history. The chaos caused by Mazdakism during his reign lead to a restored, strong, monarchy under his son and successor. Kavad I had two reigns, 488 to 496 and 499 to 531 AD. He succeeded Valkash (484-488) but was soon deposed by his brother Zamasp (496-499). Three years in exile Kavad recovered his throne and was eventually succeeded by his son, one of the most remarkable Sasanian kings, Khusro I (531-579). Kavad had numerous coin types. The one that interests us here is his first type. It was used during his first reign, showing no date, and was then used during the first two years of his second reign, being known for years 11 and 12. A new type was introduced in year 13. ... READ MORE

Inscribed Sasanian Bullae at the National Museum of Iran

Daryoush Akbarzadeh, National Museum of Iran; Touraj Daryaee, University of California, Irvine
Akbarzadeh-bulla-smSasanian bullae are important objects in understanding the economic and administrative history Ērānšahr. The bulla which is a seal impression onto clay was used as a signatory device for commodities and letters. Until now a large number of collections from both museums and private collectors have been published, and with each publication our knowledge of economic, social and administrative history of Ērānšahr deepens. The collection under study here provide further evidence to different localities, some known and others of unknown provenance. However, these collections provide a microcosm of economic history of several provinces of the Iranian Plateau. By studying these collections one is able to gather detailed information on the administrative function of the specific Zoroastrian priests, religious endowments, accountants and other personalities who were traders and businessmen. ... READ MORE

The Bactrian Collection: an Important Source for Sasanian Economic History

Khodadad Rezakhani, University of California, Los Angeles
esasanika-03-fimageThe recently discovered and published Bactrian documents are a series of 150 land-sale contracts, legal judgments, deeds of manumission, sales receipts, tax-lists, and letters regarding commercial matters. These have been found, since 1990, in various markets in northern Pakistan and have found their way into the collections of antique dealers in Europe. The vast majority of the documents are now in possession of Dr. David Naser Khalili of London, with a few pieces in the collection of antique dealers in Europe and the Middle East. With the exception of a few, the documents are written on leather, both tanned and un-tanned. ... READ MORE

The Northernmost Zoroastrian Fire-Temple in the World

Touraj Daryaee, University of California, Irvine
AtashKadehThe Caucasus is a land of diverse population and beliefs. Today, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Yazidis live in cities and villages in the valleys and gorges of the region. One religion that had a strong impact on ancient Armenia, Georgia, and the Republic of Azerbijan was Zoroastrianism. While the sources and views of Zoroastrianism are mainly from its homeland, Iran, Zoroastrianism also flourished in the Caucasus in conjunction with the local, native religions of the region. Kartveli or Georgia was converted to Christianity in the fourth century CE. The traditional date given for this momentous event in the history of Georgia is 337 CE. According to Christian sources, King Mirian (Mihran) converted from “paganism,” but a closer look at the sources suggests that the king and the people of ancient Georgia were worshipers of Ohrmazd (Ahura Mazda). ... READ MORE

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