Reception of Islam in Iran

Crone, Patricia. 2016. The Iranian reception of Islam: The non-traditionalist strands (Islamic History and Civilization 130). Collected Studies in Three Volumes. Vol. 2 edited by Hanna Siurua. Leiden; Boston: Brill.

Sasanian royalist ideology

Sasanian royalist ideology and Zoroastrian millennialism

Lecture by François de Blois, University College London, at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge, Friday 06March, 5.30pm.

A hoard from the time of Yazdgard III in Kirmān

coinAn important article by Heidemann, Riederer and Weber on a hoard of coins from the final years of the empire. I personally find the dipinti on the coins very interesting. Heidemann’s discussion of the hoard, his conclusions and Dieter Weber’s decipherment of the graffito are fascinating:

Heidemann, Stefan, Hosef Riederer and Dieter Weber. 2014. A hoard from the time of Yazdgard III in Kirmān. Iran 52. 79–124.

The analysis of a hoard from the time of the collapse of the Sasanian Empire offers new insights into the administrative situation within the realm of Yazdgard III during his presence in Kirmān. Interpreting die chains using old or newly engraved dies with the then anachronistic name of the previous shāhānshāh Khusrō II, and finding an unlikely variety of mint abbreviations and dates within one workshop, allows us to infer the processing of huge amounts of silver in an unregulated way, compared with the orderly mint administration before the battle of al-Qādisiyya. A rigorous numismatic conclusion makes the change to a centralised minting in Kirmān likely where coins, rather than the dies, were sent to the districts. The key dates of the hoard coincide with the battle of Nihāvand 642 and the beginning of the invasion of Kirmān. Many of the coins bear dipinti with legible Pahlavī inscriptions, highlighting a cultural way of marking coins at the end of the Sasanian Empire.

Read the article here.

Inside and out

Dijkstra, Jitse & Greg Fisher (eds.). 2014. Inside and Out: Interactions between Rome and the peoples on the Arabian and Egyptian frontiers in late antiquity (Late Antique History and Religion 8). Leuven: Peeters Publishers.
In recent years, exciting new discoveries of inscriptions and archaeological remains on the Arabian Peninsula have led to a re-evaluation of the peoples on the Arabian frontier, which through their extensive contacts with Rome and Persia are now seen as dynamic participants in the Late Antique world. The present volume contributes to this recent trend by focusing on the contrast between the ‘outside’ sources on the peoples of the frontier – the Roman view – and the ‘inside’ sources, that is, the precious material produced by the Arabs themselves, and by approaching these sources within an anthropological framework of how peripheral peoples face larger powers. For the first time, the situation on the Arabian frontier is also compared with that on the southern Egyptian frontier, where similar sources have been found of peoples such as the Blemmyes and Noubades. Thus, the volume offers a richly-documented examination of the frontier interactions in these two vibrant and critically-important areas of the Late Antique East.
 For more information, see the publisher’s website.

Mani at the court of the Persian kings

Gardner, Iain, Jason BeDuhn & Paul Dilley. 2014. Mani at the court of the Persian kings. Leiden: Brill.

For more information, see here.

The archaeology of Sasanian politics

The proceedings of the workshop The Archaeology of Sasanian Politics, organized by Richard Payne and Mehrnoush Soroush at ISAW, have now been published:

Payne, Richard & Mehrnoush Soroush (eds.). 2014. The archaeology of Sasanian politics. Journal of Ancient History 2(2).

For this issue of the journal, see here. Richard’s introductory notes to the volume are available as a free PDF. Karim Alizadeh’s Borderland projects of Sasanian Empire: Intersection of domestic and foreign policies can be found here.

Two reviews

Brody, Robert . 2014. Review of Shai Secunda: The Iranian Talmud. University of Pennsylvania Press. Zion 79(3). 435–437.

See also here for another review of Shai’s book.

Mokhtarian, Jason. 2014. Review of Shai Secunda & Steven Fine (eds.): Shoshannat Yaakov, Jewish and Iranian studies in honor of Yaakov Elman. Zion 79(3). 438–442.

Women in the Hērbedestān

Strauch Schick, Shana. 2014. Women in the Hērbedestān: A re-examination of the Bavli’s Beruriah narratives in light of Middle Persian literature. Zion 79(3). 407–424.

The Babylonian Talmud contains a number of dicta which unambiguously exclude women from the study of Torah. Yet the narratives concerning Beruriah, supposedly the daughter of R. Hanina b. Teradyon and wife of R. Meir, suggest otherwise. She is depicted as having received formal instruction at the same level as rabbinic sages. Yet, these traditions appear only in the Babylonian Talmud, a few centuries after she would have lived, and contain a number of common literary motifs. This and other factors indicate the constructed nature of these stories, as David Goodblatt and Tal Ilan have noted. While it is possible to explain the local function of these narratives on literary and didactic grounds, given the Babylonian Talmud’s general stance regarding women and Torah study, the figure of a woman well-versed in Torah learning is indeed surprising.
This paper proposes that the appearance of the character of Beruriah is best understood within the Middle Persian milieu when the late Talmudic narratives arose. It is clear from Zoroastrian texts that religious study was a possibility open to men and women and that both were equally viable candidates to leave their home in order to engage in religious training at the Hērbedestān. A passage from Mādayān ī Hazār Dādestān, for example, depicts women who are well versed in jurisprudence and shares other significant parallels with the Beruriah narratives. By turning to relevant Middle Persian sources it thus becomes clear that the idea of the scholarly woman was not simply a literary motif called into existence, but was in fact a real possibility that Jews of Babylonia had to confront—a novel phenomenon unknown (or perhaps suppressed) in earlier Palestinian sources. Within a larger culture in which women participated in religious scholarly pursuits, the exclusion of women from Torah study and the community of scholars was addressed by the creation of Beruriah. Although the existence of a woman of Beruriah’s erudition within an elite rabbinic family could now be presented as a plausible historical persona, her existence served as a cautionary tale to justify the importance of keeping Torah study exclusively male.