Iranian in Wusun?

de la Vaissière, Etienne. 2013. Iranian in Wusun? A tentative reinterpretation of the Kultobe inscriptions. In Sergei Tokhtasev & Pavel Lurje (eds.), Commentationes Iranicae. Vladimiro f. Aaron Livschits nonagenario donum natalicium, 320–325. St. Petersburg: Nestor-Historia.

Read the article here.

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.

Perceptions of Iran

Ansari, Ali (ed.). 2013. Perceptions of Iran: History, myths and nationalism from medieval Persia to the Islamic Republic. London: I.B. Tauris.
For the book, see here. Abstract:
From the Sasanian to the Safavid Empire, and from Qajar Iran to the current Islamic Republic, the history of Iran is one which has been colored by a rich tradition of myths and narratives and shaped by its wealth of philosophers, cultural theorists and political thinkers. Perceptions of Iran dissects the construction of Iranian identity, to reveal how nationalism has been continually re-formulated and how self-perceptions have been carried by Iran’s literary past, in particular the mystical love poetry of Rumi, Sa’adi and Hafez. It traces a long history of encounters with the Western world and tracks Iranian thought from Herodotus’ representation of Cyrus to the Constitutional Movement of the early twentieth century. This book ties together the diverse threads of Iranian intellectual activity that have underpinned social and political movements, spanning Kermani’s writing on ancient Persian history and liberal nationalism, through to the strident anti-Westernism of figures such as Sayed Jamal Al-Afghani and Ayatollah Khomeini.

The fractious eye

Secunda, Shai. 2014. The fractious eye: On the evil eye of menstruants in Zoroastrian tradition. Numen 61(1). 83–108.

Read the article here. Abstract:

Like all religions, Zoroastrianism evolved, and its rich textual record provides us with the material to trace some of its developments across the centuries. This article attempts to reconstruct an ancient Iranian myth preserved in Zoroastrian tradition about the dangerous powers of the gaze of menstruating women, and traces its development as it grows out of the Avesta and interacts with Western philosophical traditions in the Middle Persian writings of late antiquity and the early middle ages.


Mousavi, Ali. 2012. Persepolis: Discovery and afterlife of a world wonder. Boston/Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Persepolis was recently chosen for the 21st “world prize for the book of the year” of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For an interview with the author, see here.

For more on the book, see here. Abstract:

Persepolis: Discovery and Afterlife of a World Wonder presents the first full study of the history of archaeological exploration at Persepolis after its destruction in 330 BC. Based in part on archival evidence, anecdotal information, and unpublished documents, this book describes in detail the history of archaeological exploration, visual documentation, and excavations at one of the most celebrated sites of the ancient world. The book addresses a broad audience of readers ranging from students of the archaeology, history, and art history of ancient, medieval, and modern Iran to scholars in Classical Studies and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.


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.

The Everlasting Flame

Sogdian Ashem VohuThe study of Zoroastrianism is nothing new to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. A number of formative figures in Iranian Studies have taught at SOAS: W. Henning, M. Boyce, D. N. MacKenzie, J. Hinnells, N. Sims-Williams, F. de Blois. And it houses the only endowed chair in Zoroastrian studies (A. Hintze). The Brunei Gallery at SOAS has been the home of ‘The Everlasting Flame‘ for the past three months, which is even by the standards of SOAS a unique event. See my interview with Sarah Stewart.

Further engaging the paradigm of Late Antiquity

Pourshariati, Parvaneh. 2013. Introduction: Further engaging the paradigm of Late Antiquity. Journal of Persianate Studies 6. 1–14.

In her excellent introduction to the latest volume of Journal of Persianate Studies, a special issue, Pourshariati discusses the problem of periodisation in the study of Iranian history. Read the article here.