»Die Welt von Gestern«

Yesterday, I chanced upon the English translation of Stefan Zweig’s memoirs, The World of Yesterday. Looking through the book, I found Shakespeare’s brilliant words in the epigraph: »Let’s withdraw, and meet the time as it seeks us.« Anyone familiar with Stefan Zweig’s decision to end his life together with his wife will read »let’s withdraw« with a sense of foreboding. However, the German original, at least in the recent printed editions that I know, quote this line from act 4, scene 3 of Cymbeline differently: »Begegnen wir der Zeit, wie sie uns sucht.« What a difference »let’s withdraw« makes here.

Categorised as Blog

Rise of the Sasanian Empire

I don’t know The Collector, having only recently been alerted to it by Google, but their article entitled Rise of the Sasanian Empire: The Persians (205-310 CE) looks interesting. I have not had a chance to read the article in detail, but it looks generally good and offers photos to illustrate the art and archaeology of the empire.

The site brings you ‘Daily Articles on Ancient History, Philosophy, Art & Artists by Leading Authors. Trusted by Scholars, Classrooms & Enthusiasts’. They have articles on the Achaemenid kings, Cyrus The Great, the Parthians , Zoroastrianism and even on The “Communists” of Ancient Iran: Mazdak and the Khurramites.

A Lost Parsi Fire Temple

A short report with some photos in India Times on The Lost Parsi Fire Temple Of Kolkata’s Ezra Street.

The Parsi community’s connection with Kolkata dates back to more than 240 years. Relying on the written records, in 1767, Dadabhai Behramji became the first Parsi who settled in Kolkata. He was friends with John Cartier, who was appointed as the Governor of Bengal back then.

From the article

Interreligious Dialogue in Medieval Bamiyan

This blog first appeared on the website of the Invisible East Programme.

Historical documents, as opposed to narrative and religious primary source material, are an invaluable resource for the historical study of daily life and ordinary people. Micro-historical research, thus moves away from panoptic imperial historiography and often focuses on the history of smaller states, economies and even private lives. In general, and if enough documentary material exists, the micro-histories offer a more singular but perhaps more precise view. Documentary materials abound in some cultures and languages allowing in-depth examinations of various kinds, whereas in some other regions they can be a rarity. Ginzburg (2013), for instance, drew in his classic micro-historical study of the miller Menocchio’s cosmogony on the protocols of the inquisition trials in the sixteenth century Italy1. Ginzburg’s study provides rare insights into the beliefs and the intellectual life of ordinary people. Rose (2021), in another widely recognised examination of ordinary life, queries a vast array of documentary material to understand and approach the intellectual life of the British working classes of the early twentieth century2. Despite the differences in academic discipline—one is a historical study while the other is sociological— both authors draw on material other than narrative, religious or royal sources3. Unfortunately, not every discipline can rely on documentary material that sheds light on to daily life.

Bahari Research Fellow

As of today, I continue my work at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford, as a senior ‘Bahari Research Fellow’. I resume work on my usual research topics: Zoroastrianism in late antiquity and epistolary traditions within the Iranian world. I’m grateful to Yuhan Vevaina for the friendship, opportunity & the exceptionally fruitful collaboration.

Categorised as Blog

Berkeley Working Papers in Middle Iranian Philology

Adam Benkato and I have finally launched our journal, Berkeley Working Papers in Middle Iranian Philology, where we intend to publish short and longer articles or research reports on the philology and epigraphy of the Middle Iranian languages (Middle Persian, Parthian, Bactrian, Sogdian, Chorasmian, Khotanese).

We start the Working Papers with issue 0, Towards a Manifesto for Middle Iranian Philology. As the title suggests, this issue of the journal serves as a manifesto where I show a possible direction for the journal by discussing Nietzsche’s views on philology.

We warmly invite our colleagues to contribute to the journal.

The birth of the abestāg

I am delighted to be giving a lecture as part of the Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series on 11 January 2023. I will talk about the role of the Sasanians and philology in the creation and transmission of the abestāg, which is my preferred term for the collection of the texts we have come to know as the Avesta.

You can register for the lecture here.

Scholars have often discussed Zoroastrianism as an ancient Iranian religion that reaches back thousands of years into the middle of the second millennium BCE. For a long time, the idea of monolithic continuity has dominated the scholarly discourse in the study of this religion. While Boyce preferred a theological continuity, a view mostly rejected today, others have ardently, but to my mind unconvincingly, argued for ritual continuity. Both camps have at some point associated all pre-Islamic empires, but particularly the Achaemenid and Sasanian eras, with the religious system of Zoroastrianism. After a brief examination of these views, I will lay out some methodological concerns as a challenge to the discipline, before turning my attention to the reception of an antique Iranian heritage in the Sasanian era (224–651 CE). I will argue that the late antique response played a major role in forming the heritage it was claiming as its own.

Book Award

I am delighted and honoured to be the recipient of the inaugural AIS Book Prize for Ancient Iranian Studies for my book, Zoroastrian Scholasticism in Late Antiquity: The Pahlavi version of the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti. The prize was announced at the 13th Biennial Iranian Studies Conference, which took place in Salamanca, Spain. As I have said before, I am grateful to the Edinburgh University Press for their support, Prof. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, the series editor, for giving this book a home early on, and to all publishing staff for putting up with my XeLaTeX shenanigans so patiently. I look forward to my forthcoming projects with the EUP.

با کمال خوشحالی به اطلاع دوستان میرسانم که کتابم، با عنوان “اسکولاستیک زرتشتی در دوره پساباستان”، در سیزدهمین کنفرانس دوسالانه‌ی ایران شناسی در سالامانکای اسپانیا موفق به دریافت اولین «جایزه کتاب AIS برای مطالعات ایران باستان» گردید. از حمایتهای انتشارات دانشگاه ادینبورگ و ویراستار محترم، پروفسور لوید لولین جونز برای پذیریش زودهنگام کتاب و دیگر همکاران انتشارات به‌سبب تحمل شیطنتهای XeLaTeX من قدردانی می کنم و مشتاقانه منتظر پروژه های بعدی خود با EUP هستم.