[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the sixteenth in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise three-to-four parts, depending on the number of articles included.]

Arabica (Volume 67, Issues 1-3)

Authorship and Unity of the Classical Arabic Poem through the Lens of Collaborative Composition

By: Erez Naaman

Abstract: When a classical Arabic poem lacked a noticeable degree of thematic coherence and formal structure, it was at risk of foreign intervention aiming to improve it. Who was recognized in such a case as the author of the poem and on which grounds? This article looks at the interrelated questions of the poem’s unity and its authorship through the lens of collaborative poetry that was practiced by completing verse composed in the past. It presents an analysis of poetic collaboration cases from the second/eighth century to the Ayyubid era, and discusses different practical approaches of poets to authorship questions related to the earlier source poem and their own later completion. In the third/ninth century, as an expansive reservoir of ancient and modern poems became increasingly available, we occasionally notice the marks of plagiary, rather than forgery, on collaborative poems of this type. At the same time, and based on this very expansion, kinds of legitimate poetic influence can be detected in the completions of the later poets. Remarkably, poetic intervention did not cease and the poem <em>conceptually</em> did not achieve an inviolable status, when the scholars replaced the transmitters as the authorities on poetry around the third/ninth century and throughout the period under study. Nevertheless, the cultural domain for reshaping earlier verse changed, and the repertoire of poetry considered as “fair game” for this practice was narrowed down based on quality considerations.

Ibrāhīm al-Naḫaʿī (Kufan, d. 96/714)

By: Christopher Melchert

Abstract: Ibrāhīm al-Naḫaʿī (d. 96/714) was the most prominent Follower (<em>tābiʿī</em>) in the Kufan legal tradition, also prominent in the areas of hadith transmission, koranic commentary, and piety. Later adherents of both hadith and <em>raʾy</em> cited his opinions as authoritative precedents. Presumptively, most quotations of him give us the gist of what he said, not his very words; an undetermined proportion of quotations represents not recollection of his positions but positions someone thought he surely must have taken, if asked.

The Living City of the Dead: Representation of Life in the Cemeteries in Two Egyptian Novels

By: Tania Al Saadi

Abstract: The City of the Dead is a large area on the periphery of Cairo where people live in house-like tombs. This study focuses on two Egyptian novels <em>Šakāwā l-miṣrī l-faṣīḥ</em> (1981-1985) by Yūsuf al-Qaʿīd and <em>Madad</em> (2014) by Maḥmūd al-Wirwārī, in which living in the cemeteries is portrayed as a paradoxical reality where life and death overlap. Limits between the two are blurred, and this creates a confusing situation where landmarks are lost and moral values are subverted. This situation echoes the characters’ personal dilemmas and the uncertain historical context in which they live. This article sheds light on the representation of life in the cemeteries and the concrete and symbolic function of this space. It also discusses this representation within the portrayal of peripheries and marginal spaces in contemporary Egyptian fiction, and explores the way the two novels—published several decades apart—use this ambivalent space to relate their respective historical realities.

Scents of Space: Early Islamic Pilgrimage, Perfume, and Paradise

By: Adam Bursi

Abstract: Within some of the earliest textual and material evidence for the history of Islam, pilgrimage appears as an important ritual of devotion, identity, and community. Yet modern scholarship has given little attention to early Muslims’ sensory experiences of pilgrimage sites and what they physically encountered while there. This article examines the importance of smell within Islamic pilgrimage practices of the first/seventh and second/eighth centuries. Drawing upon literary and material evidence, I reconstruct several olfactory components of pilgrimage in this period, including intensive usage of perfume and incense at pilgrimage destinations such as the Kaʿba and the Dome of the Rock, as well as pilgrims’ collection and ingestion of scented materials from these locations. I then argue that the prominence of pleasing aromas at these sacred spaces is connecting to early Islamic ideas about the proximity of paradise to these pilgrimage sites.

Why Are You Talking Like That, Sir? Il-Limbi, Phonology and Class in Contemporary Egypt

By: Islam Youssef

Abstract: This article investigates the phonological patternings in the speech of il-Limbi, an immensely popular character in Egyptian comedy; and it stands therefore at a crossroads between cultural studies and linguistics. Il-Limbi represents the urban working classes, and his speech often mocks social conventions through ludicrous parody of educated speech. Masquerading as socially superior personas, his speech highlights the diglossic situation in Egypt as well as the pretentious use of English into the elite register. My examination of il-Limbi’s pronunciation in four movies reveals a number of systematic patterns in both consonants and vowels, which construct a unique code. This code is based partly on exaggerated features of Cairene Arabic and partly on genuine features of illiterate, lower-class vernacular. And it is often the interplay between various registers via correspondence rules that creates humor in the films.

The Qurʾān Commentaries of Šams al-Dīn al-Ḫuwayyī (583/1193-637/1247)

By: Nasr Sarsour, Y. Tzvi Langermann

Abstract: Did Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī complete his great Koranic commentary? Scholars have suggested that al-Rāzī’s disciple Šams al-Dīn al-Ḫuwayyī may have contributed to the final <em>tafsīr</em>, but were unable to come to any definitive conclusions, partly because they had no <em>tafsīr</em> by al-Ḫuwayyī that could be used for comparison. In fact, we know of two commentaries of al-Ḫuwayyī: a section of his encyclopedia which displays explorations into seven selected <em>suwar</em>, and some snippets of a different <em>tafsīr</em> that are preserved by al-Suyūṭī. These two important sources are described in this notice. We also briefly mention some first-hand encounters of al-Ḫuwayyī with his master al-Rāzī, as they are reported in the former’s encyclopedia.

Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Issue 385)

Late Prehistory of the Lower Galilee: Multi-Faceted Investigations of Wadi el-Ashert

By: Yorke M. Rowan, Morag M. Kersel, Austin Chad Hill, Thomas M. Urban

Abstract: In the southern Levant, fundamental changes in economic organization, mortuary practices, and settlement patterns took place during the 5th to early 4th millennium b.c.e., or the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4500–3700/3600 b.c.e.). Our best evidence derives from sites in the Negev, and to a lesser degree, the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights, and the mortuary sites along the coast. The goal of the Galilee Prehistory Project is to examine this period based on information from a different environmental region, by undertaking survey and excavation in the Galilee, a region with virtually no radiocarbon dates or plans derived from Chalcolithic sites. The multi-faceted investigation of the Wadi el-Ashert included unpiloted aerial vehicle fly-overs during different seasons, geophysical and pedestrian survey, and methodical sub-surface test sampling. The comprehensive approach to this prehistoric landscape resulted in a more nuanced understanding of the site.

Middle Bronze Age Zincirli: The Date of “Hilani I” and the End of Middle Bronze II

By: Virginia R. Herrmann, David Schloen

Abstract: Zincirli Höyük in southern Turkey is best known as the Iron Age city of Samʾal, but recent excavations by the Chicago-Tübingen Expedition have discovered important remains of the Middle Bronze Age II, destroyed in a conflagration. This article presents two major interim results for Zincirli’s settlement history that also have implications for the architectural history and chronology of the Northern Levant. In addition to a wealth of material that gives new insight into local administration and production and interregional connections between Syria and Anatolia, the excavations have revealed that the monumental building Hilani I, though long assumed to be the earliest palace of the Iron Age, dates instead to the Middle Bronze Age. Contemporary parallels suggest that it was a broadroom temple rather than a bīt ḫilāni palace. Furthermore, radiocarbon analysis and ceramic evidence date the destruction to the mid- to late 17th century b.c.e. and thus suggest that the agent of the destruction was Ḫattušili I in his campaign against Zalwar (Zalpa), nearby Tilmen Höyük. Future research on the Middle Bronze Age at Zincirli promises to illuminate its connection to a little-known Syro-Anatolian exchange network, probably centered on Aleppo, which the rising Hittite kingdom may have hoped to disrupt or co-opt.

Middle Bronze Age Zincirli: An Interim Report on Architecture, Small Finds, and Ceramics from a Monumental Complex of the 17th Century

By: Kathryn R. Morgan, Sebastiano Soldi

Abstract: Recent excavations at the site of Zincirli Höyük in southeastern Turkey have revealed significant remains of the Middle Bronze Age II period, with evidence for local food (and probably wine) production and storage, textile production, and administrative activities. Certain cylinder seal and vessel types further indicate that the site was well-integrated into a contemporary exchange network linking the Euphrates, North Syria, and central Anatolia. The newly discovered complex includes the massive Hilani I, heretofore attributed to the Iron Age but now believed to be a Middle Bronze Age temple rather than a bīt ḫilāni palace. This preliminary report presents architecture, ceramics, and small finds associated with this complex, DD, which comprises, in addition to Hilani I, two well-provisioned buildings (DD/I and DD/II), a street, and exterior work spaces, and was destroyed in a conflagration in the mid-17th century b.c.e. Ongoing research by the Chicago-Tübingen Expedition seeks to illuminate the function of Complex DD and Hilani I, as well as the regional significance of the site, including its political relationship to nearby Tilmen Höyük/Zalwar, destroyed in the campaigns of Ḫattušili I, and its role in the trade of luxury commodities such as wine and textiles.

An Anatolian-Style Lead Figurine from the Assyrian Colony Period Found in the Middle Bronze Age Palace of Tel Kabri

By: Assaf Yasur-Landau, Eric H. Cline, Sturt W. Manning, and Gilberto Artioli

Abstract: Excavations during the summer of 2017 in the earlier phases of the courtyard of the palace at Tel Kabri turned up pieces of figurines as well as horn cores within a context of Phase 4 or 5 (late 19th to early 18th centuries b.c.e.). One figurine, portraying two deities, belongs to a type of Anatolian lead figurine known from the Assyrian Colony period. Initial results from Lead Isotope Analysis (LIA) suggest that an Anatolian provenance is indeed a plausible option. This is the first find of its type to be found in the southern Levant.

Phoenician Cedar Oil from Amphoriskoi at Tel Kedesh: Implications Concerning Its Production, Use, and Export during the Hellenistic Age

By: Andrew J. Koh, Andrea M. Berlin, Sharon C. Herbert

Abstract: Archaeologists and historians have routinely attributed “branded” goods to particular regions and cultural groups, often without rigorous analysis. Phoenician cedar oil is perhaps one of the best-known examples from antiquity. Hellenistic Tel Kedesh in the Upper Galilee region of the Levant is particularly relevant for these discussions by virtue of its strategic role as a border settlement in Phoenicia during one of the most dynamic periods in ancient history. As a concise contribution to these discussions, we present here an interdisciplinary analysis of amphoriskoi found with ca. 2,000 impressed sealings from the archive complex of the Persian-Hellenistic Administrative Building. While the building was constructed under the Achaemenids and occupied in both the Ptolemaic and Seleucid eras, the archive was in use only under the Seleucids in the first half of the of the 2nd century b.c.e. Blending organic residue analysis with archaeological and textual data has allowed us to identify with certainty one of the value-added goods most closely attached to ancient Phoenicia, true cedar oil from Cedrus libani. This discovery not only empirically verifies this well-known association for the first time, but also provides a rich context in which to test our assumptions about culturally-branded goods, the role they played in participant societies, and the mechanisms and systems in place that facilitated their production, use, and export.

A Middle Bronze II Cylinder Seal of North Syrian Style from Tel Shimron (Jezreel Valley)

By: Elisa Roßberger

Abstract: The first excavation season at Tel Shimron brought to light a well-preserved hematite cylinder seal of outstanding artistic quality dating to the Middle Bronze IIA–B. The depicted creatures belong to the Egyptian and Syro-Levantine art spheres, but their rendering and the integration of additional pictorial elements conforms more to the latter. Stylistically, the seal relates to the Northern Levantine coastal region, and in particular to a group characterized by its deep and fluid linear carvings and plastic modeling of animal bodies in motion. Together with an example from Tell el-ʿAjjul, its discovery in the Jezreel Plain marks the southern-most secured findspot for a seal of this style, and offers a welcome opportunity for a renewed discussion on processes of artistic interaction and hybridization in the Middle Bronze Age Levant.

The Space Syntax of Canaanite Cultic Spaces: A Unique Category of Spatial Configuration within the Bronze Age Southern Levant

By: Matthew Susnow

Abstract: The existence of temples within urban, rural, and extramural settings in the Middle and Late Bronze Age southern Levant is well documented. However, defining what qualifies these spaces as “cultic” is significantly less clear. Accordingly, in this paper I utilize access analysis to define sacred space as a unique category of spatial configuration within the region, one that contrasts with other types of public and domestic spaces. As such, the trajectory and evolution of Canaanite temples and cultic architecture diverge in a number of ways from other types of spaces. I demonstrate this visually by supplying justified gamma maps for cultic and non-cultic architecture, underscoring the contrasting nature between the access to, movement through, and control of Canaanite temples and that of their domestic and palatial counterparts. The implications of this are remarkable. What emerges from this study is that Canaanite temples were unique not only in terms of the role they played within their surrounding landscapes and region, but also in how they were differentiated from temples and temple institutions of the surrounding ancient Near East, with relation to the rise of urbanization, social complexity, and elite control of religious institutions.

Was a “Gate Shrine” Built at the Level III Inner City Gate of Lachish? A Response to Ganor and Kreimerman

By: David Ussishkin

Abstract: The city gate of Level III at biblical Lachish dates to the Iron Age IIB period and was destroyed in the Assyrian conquest in 701 b.c.e. In 2015–2016, Saar Ganor and Igor Kreimerman excavated the southern wing of the inner gate. In a recent issue of this journal, Ganor and Kreimerman (2019) suggested that the innermost, southern chamber of the gatehouse was a “gate shrine,” that the “gate shrine” was desecrated during the reform of Hezekiah, that it was turned into a symbolic toilet, and then sealed. The present paper has four aims. First, it presents an integral picture of the inner gatehouse based on all the excavations which took place there. Second, it argues that there was no gate shrine in the gatehouse. Third, it argues that the assumed gate shrine was not desecrated during the time of Hezekiah’s reform. Fourth, it shows that the innermost, southern chamber contained an installation of secular nature that parallels that in the innermost northern side of the gatehouse.

The Sidon’s/Ṣaydā Northern Hinterland during the Early Byzantine–Early Islamic Transition

By: Mariusz Gwiazda, Joanna Piątkowska-Małecka, Urszula Wicenciak, Piotr Makowski, Tomasz Barański

Abstract: The paper focuses on the archaeological evidence for settlement, cultural, and economic change in the Sidon’s (Ṣaydā) northern hinterland in the period of transition from early Byzantine to early Islamic times (7th–8th century c.e.). The changes were reconstructed based on the outcome of archaeological research at the sites of Porphyreon (modern Jiyeh) and Chhîm in the Sidon’s/Ṣaydā economic hinterland. The evidence confirms a continuity, although in reduced form, of occupation after the Arab conquest and a complete abandonment in the second half of the 7th or the beginning of the 8th century. The situation here bears similarity to other parts of Phoenicia, struck at the time with a settlement crisis that resulted in both a reduction of the population and a decline in the importance of cities, among others. These events were not sudden; they resulted from a process lasting several decades and impacting mainly the coastal area.

Ancient Pot-Bellows: A Review Forty Years On

By: Christopher John Davey

Abstract: After a brief introduction to pot-bellows, their corpus is reviewed, identifying objects and evidence that have emerged since the first paper about them was published by the author (Davey 1979). The propositions made in that paper are assessed and most are found to have stood the test of time. If anything, the new evidence has added complexity to this field of study, especially where the origin of the technology is concerned.

Intermediate Bronze Age Crescent-Headed Figures in the Negev Highlands

By: Lior Schwimer, Yuval Yekutieli

Abstract: This paper presents the discovery of a unique and widespread type of petroglyphs in the Western Negev Highlands, depicting human figures with crescent-shaped headgear, knee-high garments, and crescent pommel daggers. It proposes a methodology for dating this style and its historical context by: (1) analysis of presence or absence of specific animal species in the engraved scenes; (2) examination of the occurrence of particular attributes that appear in the scenes within dated contexts across the ancient Near East; and (3) study of the fit between the incised panels’ locations and the distribution of dated archaeological sites in the region and the routes connecting them. Based on this composite analysis, it is proposed that these petroglyphs are associated with groups participating in the copper trade that operated in the Sinai-Negev-Edom region during the Intermediate Bronze Age (ca. 2500–2000 b.c.e.).

Dead Sea Discoveries (Volume 28, Issue 1)

A Farewell to the Hodayot of the Community

By: Carol A. Newsom

Abstract: Since the 1960s, most scholars have distinguished between two types of compositions in the Hodayot, those that represent the persona of the Teacher of Righteousness and those that represent the spiritual experience of the Community in general. This theory, however, was developed before scholars had access to a reliable reconstruction of 1QHa or to the fragmentary manuscripts of the Hodayot from Cave 4. While that evidence largely confirms the distinctiveness of the group of compositions associated with the Teacher, which are clustered in cols. 10–17, the evidence undermines the cogency of a category of “Community” hodayot. The presence of lmśkyl headings in several compositions, claims to leadership by the speaker, the appearance of an expression that implicitly compares the speaker to Moses, and other factors make it more likely that the non-Teacher hodayot should be associated with the Maśkîl rather than with ordinary sectarians.

More Dubious Dead Sea Scrolls: Four Pre-2002 Fragments in the Schøyen Collection

By: Årstein Justnes, Josephine Munch Rasmussen

Abstract: In the course of the last eighteen years more than 75 new “Dead Sea Scrolls” fragments have surfaced on the antiquities market. These are commonly referred to as post-2002 Dead Sea Scrolls-like fragments. A growing number of scholars regard a substantial part of them as forgeries. In this article, we will discuss four more dubious fragments, but this time from the 20th Century—or at least from pre-2002. Two of the fragments have been known since the late nineties and are published in the DJD series. One was published in Revue de Qumran (2003), and one in Gleanings from the Caves (2016). All four are today accepted as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls dataset even though they are unprovenanced and have made-up—or at least very adaptable—lists of previous owners. In this article, we will critically review their provenance and discuss the lack of proper interest in provenance on the part of the collector who owns them and the scholars who published them.

Bitenosh’s Orgasm, Galen’s Two Seeds and Conception Theory in the Hebrew Bible

By: Laura Quick

Abstract: In the Genesis Apocryphon, Lamech worries that his son is illegitimate and accordingly confronts his wife about her fidelity. Bitenosh answers these accusations with a surprising response: she asks her husband to recall the sexual pleasure that she experienced during their intercourse. Scholars have clarified this rhetorical strategy by connecting the episode to Greco-Roman theories of embryogenesis, in which a woman’s pleasure during intercourse was taken to indicate conception. While this provides a convincing explanation for Bitenosh’s argumentation, in this essay I argue that rather than deriving these ideas from the Greco-Roman world, the conception theory which informed the Genesis Apocryphon is in fact consistent with notions that can already be found in the Hebrew Bible and the wider ancient Near East. By exploring the concept of conception in biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts, I uncover a belief in the necessity for female pleasure during intercourse as well as the existence of female “seed.” These ancient authors were able to develop and promote significant reflections upon medical issues such as conception, and this is recalled in Bitenosh’s speech. This essay therefore has significant implications for understanding concepts of sex and conception in the Genesis Apocryphon, as well as in the Hebrew Bible and the wider ancient Near East more generally.

Two Damascus Document Fragments and Mistaken Identities: The Mingling of Some Qumran Cave 4 and Cave 6 Fragments

By: Eibert Tigchelaar

Abstract: Two of the unidentified Cave 4 fragments preserving text of the Damascus Document which were mistakenly associated with 4Q269 should instead be assigned to 6Q15, since they join to 6Q15 fragment 1. This is the first case of a join between fragments claimed to have come from different caves. Also PAM 41.734 does not clearly distinguish between all Cave 4 and Cave 6 fragments.

The Cairo Genizah Fragment of the Visions of Levi from the University of Manchester Library

By: Henryk Drawnel

Abstract: Although the Visions of Levi (so-called Aramaic Levi Document) is a Jewish priestly composition written in the second or third century BCE, the largest part of its text comes from the trove of Jewish medieval manuscripts found in the Genizah of the Ezra synagogue in Old Cairo. Among the Genizah scrolls housed at the University of Manchester Library, Gideon Bohak found a new fragment (P 1185) of the pseudepigraphic document dedicated to Levi and his life. The present study contains a new edition of P 1185, including its paleographic description, notes on the readings, comments and photographs of the manuscript.

Iran (Volume 59, Issue 1)

Vaqaye‘-e Ettefaqiyeh (1851–1861) and the Education of the Iranian Nation in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century

By: Mojtaba Ebrahimian

Abstract: This article contributes to the discussions of the genesis of the print media in Iran by analysing the first official weekly gazette published for ten years in the country. It first, examines the present scholarship on Vaqaye‘-e Ettefaqiyeh, which disregards the official Qajar gazette as a mouthpiece of the government, portrays it as only one of the administrative reforms of Amir Kabir, or considers it a precursor to more noteworthy print media of the turn of the twentieth century. Then, building upon and expanding such scholarship, this article demonstrates that as the only form of print media in Iran, the Qajar gazette firstly, contributed to the popularisation of reading in Iran, and secondly, introduced Iranians, both those who bought and read it as well as those who heard it read aloud in public spaces, to the current proceedings of the Qajar court, historical developments outside Iran, and most importantly, modern technological and democratic developments in Europe and the New World.

The Panel of Dervishes at the Tekkiyeh Moʿaven al-Molk in Kermanshah (Figure 1)

By: Massoumeh (Nahid) Assemi

Abstract: Tekkiyeh Moʿaven al-Molk in Kermanshah is a space for commemoration of the Battle of Karbala and is accordingly decorated with large narrative panels conceived in underglaze (haft rangi) tiles, depicting various episodes of the event. Amongst these is a large panel, covering a whole wall, depicting a number of dervishes in an architectural setting resembling one of the spaces of the Tekkiyeh. The imagery on the face of it has no relevance to the events of Karbala and seems to be outside the programme of decoration of the Tekkiyeh. This paper attempt to decipher the iconography of the representation, in order to come up with a rational for its inclusion within the programme of the decoration of the space which is concerned entirely with the Battle of Karbala.

Looking Like Silver: Mica as a Pigment in Mid-Seventeenth Century Persian Wall Decorations

By: Amir-Hossein Karimy, Parviz Holakooei

Abstract: Several monuments erected in the mid-seventeenth century in Isfahan, Iran, demonstrate a glittering paint layer as wall decoration. Raman spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) on the glittering paint layer showed flakes of muscovite (KAl2(AlSi3O10)(OH)2) scattered on gypsum plaster were responsible for the glittering effect. Accounts of several travellers and historical texts about a substance called talq match with the use of muscovite as a glittering pigment in Persia during the seventeenth century. Methods of preparation and possible source for muscovite in Iran are discussed. It is suggested that crushed muscovite was in use as pigment in Persia sometime around the mid-seventeenth century. It is also argued that the use of muscovite was a new experience related to mass building construction in the capital of the Safavids during the mid-seventeenth century.

Land Use and Environment in a Zone of Uncertainty: A Case of the Sasanian Expansion in Eastern Iraq – Western Iran

By: Mitra Panahipour

Abstract: This paper explores diverse patterns of settlement and land use across an environmentally transitional area in eastern Iraq and western Iran during the Sasanian period. Historical and modern high-resolution satellite images in conjunction with field surveys are employed to document archaeological features. Analysis of multispectral satellite imagery creates a historical and traditional land use model that contributes to a spatial understanding of land classes and their relationship with archaeological features. Thereafter, data are interpreted with respect to the environmental and ethnographic records. Results indicate the limitations of our past archaeological knowledge of human-environment interactions during late antiquity. They present multitier land use and subsistence strategy in a region outside of the empire’s political and economic core zones. I discuss intertwined interactions between the sedentary and non-sedentary populations and argue that while intensification occurred in the late Sasanian period, agropastoralism and mobility have been dominant patterns of settlement and land use.

Parthian Burials in the Hamedan City, Western Iran

By: Yaghoub Mohamadifar, Esmail Hemati Azandaryani, Alireza Dailar, Somayeh Hasanlou, Javad Babapiri

Abstract: The city of Hamedan in western Iran is one of the most important historical cities where various archaeological discoveries can be found in its different parts. The location of Tepe Hegmataneh in the city’s historical texture and its unbreakable bonding has made it possible for archeological activities to reveal some of the hidden aspects of Hamedan’s historical identities. At present, 14 places of Parthian burials have been unearthed from the city and its surroundings. Other than the Sang-e Shir or Stone Lion cemetery that was identified with a systematic archeological excavation, the rest was discovered accidentally during construction activities. The burials in Hamedan are of two types: those with coffins and those without a coffin. The burials lacking coffins are simple (dug in the ground) and pit, which are more related to the Stone Lion cemetery, and the coffin burials, too, are scattered in and around Hamedan. These include clay caskets in the form of a boat, humanoid and rectangular stone coffins. Most of these coffins are empty without any material remains. The graves are usually in the northeast-southwest direction, and the skeletons are laid open arched facing right, left, or straight. The grave coverings are all made of thin stone slabs.

Kani Koter, Iron Age Cemetery From Iranian Kurdistan

By: Sheler Amelirad, Eghbal Azizi

Abstract: Kani Koter cemetery is located in Iranian Kurdistan, close to Dere Pemeyan (or Persian Dare Panbedan) village, between the ancient sites of Ziwiye and Karafto Cave (Figure 1). In this article, we discuss the material discovered from one of the graves in this cemetery, its chronology, and cultural associations. Unfortunately, tomb robbers plundered this grave, completely ruining the tomb’s stratigraphic context. Fortunately, in 2016 the Cultural Heritage Organization of Kurdistan rescued all of the stolen artefacts, and today the collection is stored at the Sanandaj Museum. The grave has yielded a number of elaborately decorated objects that belong nominally to Assyrian, Urartian and Mannaean artistic traditions, with the date for the finds being established by means of comparisons with Assyrian and Urartian artefacts.

Exploring Beyond the River and Inside the Valleys: Settlement Development and Cultural Landscape of the Araxes River Basin Through Time

By: Sepideh Maziar, Ali Zalaghi

Abstract: Geographical landmarks, especially rivers, have always played an important role in forming or hampering interplay between societies. In some cases, they act as a “communication route” and in some others as “obstacles”. In north-western Iran, it is possible that the Araxes River played such a decisive role by sculpting its surroundings. While our studies are not yet sufficiently adequate to understand the exact role of this river in different time spans, we can begin in some way to conceptualise its role in different periods. The Araxes Valley Archaeological Project (AVAP) was developed with the general aim of investigating settlement development from the fifth to the third millennium BC. Furthermore, studying the possible and probable routes of interaction, both inter- and intra-regional, between the Jolfa and Khoda Afarin plains and the southern Caucasus and north-western Iran, networks of contacts and exchange, and gaining a better understanding of the geographical characteristics of this area and its landscape were among our aims. In this article, the general history of occupation along this river is given to provide a preliminary database to understand the geographical and socio-political potential of this part in order to pursue more comprehensive studies in the future.

Tureng Tepe, a Bronze Age Centre in Northeastern Iran Revisited

By: Kyle G. Olson, Christopher P. Thornton

Abstract: Tureng Tepe is a major site in the archaeology of Iran, but despite having been excavated by two different foreign archaeological missions, crucial periods in its history remain underreported. This is especially the case for the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age layers at the site, which have not been comprehensively published in English. The present investigation focuses on the Frederick and Susanne Wulsin excavation archive and collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and shows that despite a rudimentary approach to excavation, the Wulsins’ excavation records contain valuable information on the material culture and chronology of the site. Indeed, when viewed in combination with the published information available from the later French excavations directed by Jean Deshayes, the Wulsin excavations help place Tureng Tepe in its local and regional context. This article presents the results of the primary excavations conducted by the Wulsins in 1931, anchoring their Mound C sequence in a relative and absolute chronological framework using parallels to the Deshayes materials, and assesses the utility of the Wulsin collection for future research.

Iran and the Caucasus (Volume 25, Issue 1)

A Triangle of Interests: Azerbaijan, Iran and Israel

By: Ronen A. Cohen, Tzvi Lev

Abstract: In the world of Realpolitik, Israel and Azerbaijan seem to have closer relations than just pragmatic ones. This article intends to shed light on the strategic and regional interests of Israel and Azerbaijan, while considering Iran’s efforts to maintain an alliance with Azerbaijan. From the Israeli side, these relations have multi-dimensional components that enable Israel to keep an eye on Iran without dragging Azerbaijan into the conflict. Azerbaijan and Iran, for their part, sharing a common religion and, partly, culture, both use Realpolitik in order to retain the Caucasus balance of power.

Indo-Iranian *mastr̥ghan- / *mastr̥ǰhan- ‘Brain, Skull’ and its Etymology

By: Alexander Lubotsky

Abstract: The purpose of this short note is to clarify the meaning, the original inflection and the etymology of the Indo-Iranian word *mastr̥gan- / *mastr̥ǰ- ‘brain, skull’.

Tracing the International Dimensions of Iranian Nationalism: The Era of Mohammad Reza Shah

By: Zelal Özdemir

Abstract: This study explores the reconstruction of Iranian national identity during the Mohammad Reza Shah era (1953 to 1979). Drawing on materials collected from the memoirs and statements of the Shah and the key actors of the era and using Historical Sociology in International Relations as its theoretical backbone, it aims to unravel the constitutive role of the international on the formation of Iranian state nationalism. It argues that in order to understand the meaning attached to being Iranian, we should look into the specifics of international- domestic interaction, as Iranian national identity has been framed and re-framed by the Shah alongside the changing dynamics born out of specific interaction between the domestic and international dynamics. The Shah’s interpretation of Iranian identity emerged and evolved at the intersection of his endeavours for gaining legitimacy against the legacy of Mosaddeq and his popular nationalism at the domestic level and for reclaiming the actorness of Iran during the Cold War at the international level. Playing inwards and outwards, the Shah sought to deconstruct the content of Iranian nationalism articulated by Mosaddeq and to give a new meaning to Iranian nationalism. Serving as the ideological glue of his state building, it was characterized by a strong belief in the rapid industrialization, emphasis on unity rather than diversity, uniqueness of Iranian identity vis-à-vis the East and the West, and presentation of the Shah as the real and moral representative of the Iranian people.

The Jewish–Tat Relations and the Issue of Mountain Jews Identity (Part I)

By: Przemysław Adamczewski

Abstract: The aim of this article is to present mainly those aspects of the interviews that concerned the relationship of Mountain Jews to the Tats. In addition, issues regarding the language, identity, and relations of Mountain Jews with other ethnic groups are discussed. The article is based on interviews that were conducted as part of a research project “Between the Caucasus and Jerusalem: Mountain Jews in the Dialogue of Cultures” carried out by the “Sefer” Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization. This project aims to explore the history, culture, and identity of Mountain Jews. So far, two scientific expeditions have taken place—one in August 2018 and another in August 2019, both to southern Dagestan. Participants of the expedition were divided into two groups—epigraphic and ethnographic. The task of the ethnographic group was to conduct interviews with representatives of the Mountain Jew community living in southern Dagestan. In 2018, these were conducted in Derbent and Nyugdi. In 2019, interviews were conducted with Mountain Jews living in Derbent, in Nyugdi and with inhabitants of Dzhalgan.

Iranian Religious Elements in Chinese Medieval Art: Remarks on “Zoroastrian Protective Spirits”

By: Li Sifei

Abstract: This article aims at discussing the possible origin and meaning of winged fantastic creatures, which appear quite often in the 6th century A.D. Sogdian funerary monuments in China and specifically on the Shi Jun 史君 one (580 A.D.). It cannot be ruled out that composite creatures like the one on the Shi Jun funerary monument originated from the Greek ketos and hippocampus that were introduced into Persia, Central Asia and northwestern India after the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great. The impact of Chinese cultural elements on this little investigated group of funerary monuments contributed to create a long forgotten unique and still enigmatic artistic production that scholars called “Sino-Sogdian”.


Iranian Studies (Volume 54, Issue 1-2)

Written Representation of Temporal Power in Safavid Material Culture

By: Pouye Khoshkhoosani

Abstract: This paper examines the notions of Shiʿism and kingship in Safavid cultural materials (coins, architectural inscriptions, enthronement orations, and panegyrics) to trace the role of Safavid ideology in the dynasty’s transformation from a Sufi order into a monarchic institution with a sectarian identity. It examines these materials in order to reconstruct the dominant ideology of the Safavids in various venues. Examination of the ideologies of Safavid rulership shows a marked difference between ideologies expressed in these cultural mediums. We argue that this difference points to a multi-pronged Safavid strategy of projecting political legitimacy in distinct registers for different audiences. By combining ideologies that were embraced and practiced by people of different regions and sects in the Persian empire before the Safavids, the Safavid monarchs managed to spread widely their power within the empire and beyond, to change the religio-political ideology of the empire, and to remain in power for more than two centuries.

The Nature of Legitimacy: Representations of the Natural World in Iskandar Beg Munshi’s Tārīkh-e ʿĀlam-ārā-ye ʿAbbāsī

By: Amit Sadan

Abstract: This article examines history-writing in Safavid Iran and, in particular, the notable chronicle from the time of Shah ʿAbbas I, the Tārīkh-e ʿĀlam-ārā-ye ʿAbbāsī (TAAA). It rethinks Safavid history-writing via the perspective of environmental history. This article asks, “How was the natural world represented in the chronicle, and in what way did this representation shape the Safavid historical narrative?” It argues that the ways in which the TAAA portrays human encounters with nature suggest ʿAbbas’ unique sovereignty over it. Because of his piety and devotion, he was considered blessed with divine grace, making him the only human being with the ability to regulate natural manifestations—that is, to dominate, to manipulate, to survive, and to contain nature. Against a backdrop of an absence of environmental readings of Safavid history, the article suggests looking at the TAAA’s representation of this natural world as a powerful legitimizing force for ʿAbbas’ reign, as it is one that has not yet been foregrounded.

Women’s Writing in Action: On Female-authored Hajj Narratives in Qajar Iran

By: Piotr Bachtin

Abstract: This paper examines the textual and performative functions of early women’s writings on the example of three accounts of the pilgrimage to Mecca written during the Qajar era by Mehrmāh Khānom ʿEsmat al-Saltaneh (1880–81), the anonymous Hājiyeh Khānom ʿAlaviyeh Kermāni (1892–94), and Sakineh Soltān Vaqār al-Dowleh Esfahāni Kuchak (1899–1901). It ponders on the relationships between the female writers and textuality, their readers and, finally, the diary personas they created. It claims that their writings emerged in the process of negotiating the then existing, masculine models of textuality and authorial authority. By rejecting the monologic authoritativeness of literature and textuality, the women diarists transformed their texts into a space for dialogue—including dialogue with themselves.

The Allure of Untranslatability: Shafiʿi-Kadkani and (Not) Translating Persian Poetry

By: Aria Fani

Abstract: How could one translate into any European language a Persian poem as culturally and aesthetically embedded as this hemistich by Hāfez: beh may sajjādeh rangin kon garat pir-e moghān guyad. This is the central question Mohammad-Rezā Shafiʿi-Kadkani addresses in his essay titled “On Poetic Untranslatability.” For Shafiʿi, translation is primarily a function of cultural—and not linguistic—affinity. Therefore, he argues that Hāfez’s poem is all but untranslatable in European languages given their fundamental cultural difference from Persian. This article critically engages Shafiʿi’s essay by outlining and analyzing the set of problematic assumptions embedded in its rubric of untranslatability. It places Shafiʿi’s view on translation in conversation with theorists of untranslatability in comparative literature and translation studies. Ultimately, it outlines why untranslatability is not a useful conceptual framework for the analysis of linguistic and cultural difference.

Jāmī, a Legend in China: A Study of the Transmission and Transformation of Jāmī’s Texts in China

By: Yiming Shen

Abstract: As a polymath in fifteenth century Central Asia, Jāmī’s (1414–92) works were widely circulated around the Muslim world. From a global perspective, Jāmī and his prose works achieved outstanding recognition in China in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This paper follows the author’s previous research on the introduction of Jami’s works in China, seeking to answer the question of what it was that made Jāmī a legend in China and how this came about. By focusing on the transmission and transformation of Jāmī’s two Persian Sufi prose writings as they moved from Central Asia into China, the article concludes that two groups of people played a role as transcultural agents in this process; these were individual Sufi travelers and the Muslim intellectuals

France among the Most-Favored Nations: The French Commercial Policy and Influence in Iran (1815–48)

By: Mehdi Mousavi

Abstract: Iran’s subjection to Russo-British influence has received the bulk of attention of modern scholarship dealing with the country’s interaction with the outside world in the nineteenth century. This article, while not denying the central role played by these two powers in Iran’s domestic affairs at the time, draws attention to a third power with long-standing claims to influence in the country by way of trade policies—France. From the fall of Napoleon in 1815 until the French Revolution of 1848, the French monarchy was especially keen to encourage commerce with Iran, less as a source of increased wealth than to restore and expand French prestige and political influence. This strategy became more significant, when the British and Russian superpowers opposed an active French presence in Iran and prevented France from asserting influence in the country. To contain those powers, France pursued its plan of reaching a trade treaty with Iran as a means of obtaining commercial concessions and privileges as well as to secure its permanent presence in the country. France also aimed to connect Iran to its network of regional trade extending from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

The Keur Farah Pahlavi Project and Iranian-Senegalese Relations in the 1970s

By: Robert Steele

Abstract: Addressing the scarcity of scholarly literature on Iran’s involvement in Sub-Saharan Africa during the Pahlavi period, this paper demonstrates that throughout the 1970s, as the shah’s international standing rose and Iran’s economy grew, so too did Iran’s political and economic relationships with several African countries, especially Senegal. The article will explore a number of factors that stimulated this relationship, most significantly Senegal’s strategic and symbolic importance, and the personal friendships that developed between the countries’ leaders. The ultimate manifestation of this bilateral relationship was the Keur Farah Pahlavi project; a joint Iranian–Senegalese city to be constructed in Senegal. By exploring this project, the paper aims to demonstrate the strategies through which the Pahlavi state sought to expand its influence worldwide.

The Curious Addition of Non-Religious Characters to The Martyrdom of Imam Husain

By: E. Lucy Deacon

Abstract: The rule of the Qajar dynasty was a vibrant period for the Iranian taʿziyeh tradition; the genre’s anonymous dramatists not only developed the verse of the central plays of the Karbala cycle but innovated new narrative content. This study investigates one such innovation, the curious appearance of two new characters in the climactic play The Martyrdom of Imam Husain. They are the Dervish of Kabul and Sultan Qais of India, both of whom Husain encounters shortly before his martyrdom and neither of whom were previously mentioned in historical literature or religious traditions pertaining to Karbala. Through analysis of fifteen taʿziyeh renditions of Husain’s martyrdom dating from 1204/1790 to the 1950s, including rare manuscripts, this study provides a date window for the incorporation of these characters and argues that they were added to complete a trilogy of trials faced by Husain at Karbala. It also traces their literary origins and considers their social significance.

Modernity and Its Discontents: Newspapers, Censorship, and the Press Law in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Iran

By: Negin Nabavi

Abstract: The ratification of the Press Law in February 1908 marked a significant development in the history of censorship in Iran. However, in the little that has been written on this subject, the Press Law has been explained primarily in terms of constitutional politics, and the pressure that the first majles was put under by royalist forces who had been upset at the critical and anti-royalist tone of constitutional newspapers. This article takes a different approach; it contextualizes the Press Law and evaluates it in light of the attempts at control that had been put into effect by the state in the pre-constitutional years. To this end, this article considers the largely untold story of censorship in Qājār Iran. How did the understanding of what censorship should entail evolve through the years? How was censorship exercised, and what challenges did censorship pose for both the authorities and the subjects in the Nāseri and Mozaffari eras, culminating in the Press Law in February 1908?

The Origins of Dabestān: Mīrzā Ḥasan Rushdīyeh and the Quest for New Education

By: Navid Zarrinnal

Abstract: Mīrzā Ḥasan Rushdīyeh (1860(?)–1944) was a lower-ranking Azeri-Iranian cleric, constitutionalist, and educational reformer who was a major pioneer of new (jadīd) primary schools in Iran. This article shows that in 1889 Rushdīyeh, through training he had received in Beirut, introduced new schools into Iran based on changed pedagogy and modern disciplines. It argues that although the schools drew fierce opposition from maktab custodians and certain Qajar courtiers, they gradually increased in authority until the Reza Shah state appropriated them, with some modifications, as normative schooling called the dabestān. In English and Persian scholarship, we lack a substantial history of Rushdīyeh’s new schools. Drawing on previously unexamined sources, including his Iran and Ottoman diaries, this article examines Rushdīyeh’s educational work in the broader intellectual and political history of the period.

Traces of Pharyngeal Consonants in Isfahani Persian: A Case of Language Contact

By: Habib Borjian

Abstract: The word-final /-a/ and the diphthong /ay/ of earlier New Persian shift respectively to /-e/ and /ey/ in modern Persian. Isfahani Persian follows suit, e.g. dande “rib” and meydun “plaza.” However, the earlier phonemes survive only in a finite set of words: Arabic loanwords in which the /a/ succeeds pharyngeal consonants, e.g. ǰomʾa (< ǰumʿa) “Friday,” fâtaː (< fātiḥa) “funeral,” ayd (< ʿayd) “feast.” Isfahani Persian shows other vocalic anomalies adjacent to original pharyngeals, including syllable-final iʿ > aː in qânaː (< qāniʿ) “content,” maːmâr (< miʿmār) “architect.‏” This article investigates these phonological irregularities and their geographic distribution and historical periodization.

Journal of Near Eastern Studies (Volume 80, Issue 1)

The Ṣanʿāʾ Palimpsest: Materializing the Codices

By: Éléonore Cellard

Abstract: Not available

Symbolism in 13th-century bc Hittite Metallurgy: The Kastamonu-Kınık (Turkey) Metal Hoard, Again

By: Tayfun Yıldırım, Nimet Demirci Bal, Gonca Dardeniz

Abstract: Not available

Exegeting Enoch: Re-inscribing a Mesopotamian Figure in the Yahwist Narrative

By: Jeffrey L. Cooley

Abstract: Not available

The Marking of Poetry: A Rare Vocalization System from an Early Qurʾān Manuscript in Chicago, Paris, and Doha

By: Nick Posegay

Abstract: Not available

Perforated Astragali in the Levant and Four Babylonian Omens

By: Matthew Susnow, Wayne Horowitz, Naama Yahalom-Mack

Abstract: Not available

Patronage and Prestige in the Countryside: The case of the Church of Mār Domeṭ in medieval northern Mesopotamia

By: Reyhan Durmaz

Abstract: Not available

New evidence regarding Emerald Production in Roman Egypt at Wadi Sikait (Eastern Desert)

By: Joan Oller Guzmán, David Fernández Abella, Vanesa Trevín Pita, Oriol Achon Casas, Sergio García-Dils de la Vega

Abstract: Not available

Like a Runaway Slave: The Discourse of an Eighth-Century Muslim Ascetic

By: Alexandre M. Roberts

Abstract: Not available

Journal of the American Oriental Society (Volume 141, Issue 2)

The Morphology of the G-Stem Imperative in Semitic

By: Øyvind Bjøru

Abstract: I will assess earlier approaches to the morphology of the G-stem imperative in Semitic and mount a reconstruction that supports a specific set of disyllabic patterns for the imperative of the basic stem in Proto-Semitic, i.e., qutul, qitil, and qital. The most common process envisioned for the formation of the imperative is clipping from the prefix conjugation, but the most recent full treatment of the topic is Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal’s revision and expansion of a century-old proposal that qatul, qatil, and qital are the patterns of the imperative in Proto-Semitic. I refute both the clipping approach and Bar-Asher’s patterns in favor of qutul, qitil, and qital, which are the most economical and precise reconstruction in accounting for the realizations of the imperative in the various branches of Semitic.

Internal Reduplication among the t-Derived Verbal Stems of Akkadian

By: David Testen

Abstract: In formal terms, the Dtr-Stem of Akkadian mirrors and partially overlaps the more familiar Dt-Stem, albeit with an additional medial reduplicated syllable (cf., e.g., Dtr ūtelelle vs. Dt ūtelle). It is suggested in the following that the Dtr did not arise as a deviant form of the Dt but represents a survival of the Dt’s morphology in early East Semitic. Similarly, the Št2-Stem (the so-called “lexical Št”), which shows a comparable added syllable (contrast Št1 uštapras and Št2 uštaparras), offers us evidence of the prehistory of the Št-Stem. The diffuse semantics of both the Dtr and the Št2 testifies to their antiquity; the cohesive passive-voice sense of the Dt and the Št1, by contrast, marks these stems as relatively late analogical creations.

The Curious Case of the Jewish Sasanian Queen Šīšīnduxt: Exilarchal Propaganda and Zoroastrians in Tenth- to Eleventh-Century Baghdad

By: Simcha Gross

Abstract: The Provincial Capitals of Ērānšahr, a medieval Zoroastrian Middle Persian text, recounts how the daughter of the Jewish exilarch married the Sasanian king Yazdgird I and gave birth to Wahrām Gōr, his successor. While the historicity of the text has been largely undermined, scant attention has been given to its authorship and purpose. This article proposes that the story’s creators were members of the exilarch’s household in the tenth through eleventh century who internalized the broader concern with (invented) Sasanian pedigree during the period known as the Iranian intermezzo in an effort to appeal to Iranian Jews and other elites alike. Studying this text and its origins provides evidence of contact between Jews and Zoroastrians during this period and offers a new suggestion about the cultural context of the Zoroastrians who produced The Provincial Capitals.

Repentance in the Quran, Hadith, and Ibn Qudāma’s Kitāb al-Tawwābīn

By: Gabriel Said Reynolds, Amir Moghadam

Abstract: The Quran makes repentance an important element of piety and exhorts believers to repent of their sins. Numerous hadith also emphasize its importance, along with God’s merciful forgiveness of the repentant sinner. In his K. al-Tawwābīn, the Hanbali scholar Ibn Qudāma al-Maqdisī (d. 620/1223) draws on a wide range of akhbār (always adorned with an isnād) to present examples of repentance of angels, prophets, Companions of Muḥammad, pious mystics, and others, including non-Muslims. Ibn Qudāma’s treatise stands out for his frequent citation of accounts (often on the authority of Wahb b. Munabbih) maligned by other scholars as isrā’īliyyāt. In addition, his willingness to highlight the sins of prophets and the Prophet’s Companions, while in line with other Hanbalis, challenges common notions of prophetic impeccability and the ethical qualities of the ṣaḥāba. In this article we argue that Ibn Qudāma is willing to challenge these notions because of his vision for the construction of the pious self. He sees human initiative in overcoming the self’s natural inclination to sinfulness as a necessary step toward spiritual excellence. In this regard his spiritual vision is shaped by certain Sufi notions. While divine grace still plays a role in the working of repentance, it does not eliminate the need for human initiative. This led Ibn Qudāma to construct a mythical past in which many of the great spiritual figures were involved with a spiritual struggle with their own immoral or impious (or egotistical) instincts.

Salafism against Hadith Literature: The Curious Beginnings of a New Category in 1920s Algeria

By: Henri Lauzière

Abstract: This article examines the lexical emergence of salafiyya (used in the sense of Salafism) in the Algerian press between 1925 and 1927, which currently constitutes the earliest known use of this abstract noun in Arabic. An attentive reading of the sources reveals that, since it was a new category, it had not yet an established meaning. The task of outlining its definition and features fell to the reformers who first used it. One of them, Abū Ya’lā al-Zawāwī (d. 1952), did so in a way that defies today’s conventional thinking: he laid claim to Salafism while disparaging the Sunna and attempting to reduce the authority of hadith literature. The article shows that the core intellectual features we routinely associate with Salafism were not necessarily embraced by the historical actors who used this term at its inception in the mid-1920s. This has implications for the proper historicization of Salafism as a category.

Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Volume 64, Issue 1-2)

“Unable to Dismiss Them”: Re-assessing the Jewish “Court Bankers” of Abbasid Baghdad, 908–932

By: Jennifer Grayson

Abstract: Economic historians describe the emergence of Jewish court bankers presiding over a central state bank in Abbasid Baghdad as significant for the global history of finance. This paper, however, re-evaluates these figures in light of new insights about court cultures and institutions in the medieval Islamicate world. It argues that they should be understood primarily as middlemen in tax collection. They performed favors for individual viziers, but likely never held official titles or appointments at al-Muqtadir’s court. Rather, it was precisely their outsider status relative to elite Abbasid social networks that accounts for the longevity of their careers.

History in High Places: Tatarna Monastery and the Pindus Mountains

By: Molly Greene

Abstract: Monasteries and the records they produced are a promising source base for writing a history of the mountains of the western Balkans. These mountains are, by and large, absent from accounts of the Ottoman presence in the Balkans and, as with mountainous areas more generally, are often considered to exist outside of the main historical narrative. Using the example of a monastery that was founded in the Pindus mountains in 1556, I argue that the monastery’s beginnings are best understood within the context of the Ottoman sixteenth century, even as due regard for Byzantine precedent must also be made. In addition, I pay close attention to the monastery’s location, for two reasons. First, this opens up a new set of questions for the history of monasteries during the Ottoman period; to date most studies have focused on taxation, land ownership and the relationship to the central state. Second, the monastery’s location offers a way into the environmental history of these mountains at the Empire’s western edge. This article aspires to extend the nascent field of Ottoman environmental history into mountainous terrain.

China and the Two Romes. The 1081 and 1091 “Fulin” Embassies to the Song Empire

By: Romain Thurin

Abstract: In the late 11th century, two mysterious “Roman” embassies visited China and offered tribute to the Song Dynasty. This paper seeks to reopen the argument surrounding the identity of the Roman embassies. The question enjoyed intense discussions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before interest waned thereafter. Relying on a broad range of underused sources, this paper re-assesses the two most widely acknowledged theories that associate the embassies with the aims of the Byzantine pretender Nikephoros Melissenos and of the Seljuk prince in exile Sulaymān ibn Qutlumush.

Pirates and Pilgrims: The Plunder of the Ganj-i Sawai, the Hajj, and a Mughal Captain’s Perspective

By: Tyler Joseph Kynn

Abstract: The pirate attack by Henry Every in 1695 on a Mughal ship carrying travelers returning from pilgrimage to Mecca has received some attention by historians trying to fit this incident into a larger history of European piracy using mainly the English sources related to the incident. Drawing from this literature the aim of the present paper is to combine it with the Mughal Persian material available to demonstrate what this incident reveals about the early modern hajj – which is to say, pilgrimage to Mecca – and the makeup of the Mughal-sponsored ship carrying pilgrims and goods between Mecca and Surat. A previously unstudied Mughal letter related to the incident, by the captain of the Mughal ship in question, reveals the ways in which the Mughal Empire understood this encounter with European piracy and provides evidence for why the Mughal Empire was so quick to place the blame for this attack upon the English and the East India Company.

Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 57, Issue 2)

Examining age structure and estimating mortality rates in Ottoman Bursa using mid-nineteenth-century population registers

By: Efe Erünal

Abstract: This study aims to document the age structure and mortality by age in the Ottoman city of Bursa that served as a politically and commercially significant urban center over centuries. It uses a set of hitherto unexamined Ottoman population registers kept in 1839 and updated until 1842 that provide detailed self-reported data on all male inhabitants regardless of age, including deaths, births, and migration. The study tests the quality of age and mortality data in conjunction with the Coale and Demeny regional model life tables and compares the results to historical demographic studies conducted for European regions. The results point to a demographic structure marked by high birth and death rates and prove promising for extending back the study of Ottoman demographic transition and establishing historical comparison points with the global experience.

Ottoman death registers (Vefeyât Defterleri) and recording deaths in Istanbul, 1838–1839

By: Gülhan Balsoy, Cihangir Gündoğdu

Abstract: This article presents an analysis of the first recognisably modern-style death registers in the Ottoman Empire. These were produced, in 1838–9, as a result of the state’s reaction to the cholera pandemic of 1831. This article shows how these registers were designed and structured, how they differed to those that preceded and came after them and so occupied a key point in the transition to the medicalisation of death and the import of Western-style statistical analysis. The article demonstrates how these registers offer details that can be used to build a picture of the social, economic and demographic profile of death in Istanbul in these years.

A negotiation of power during the age of reforms in the Ottoman Empire: notables, tribes and state in Muş (1820-1840)

By: Gülseren Duman Koç

Abstract: This article analyzes how a local notable on the eastern frontiers of the Ottoman Empire struggled for local power within the context of the early nineteenth century. Focusing on an era on the eve of the Tanzimat, this article seeks to indicate how the local dynasty of Muş – Alaaddin Pashazades – sought not only to maintain but also to strengthen their power and influence by taking advantage of their imperial and trans-imperial networks. Based on a variety of primary sources from Ottoman and British archives, this article explicates how in an age of fiscal, military, and administrative transformation, Emin Pasha from the Alaaddin Pashazades consolidated his power by skilfully manipulating inter-imperial wars, regional revolts, borderland and tribal matters with Iran, and the military reforms of the era. Providing a snapshot from an eastern sub-province of the Ottoman Empire, this article hopes to contribute to studies which deal with the multi-dimensional relations between imperial powers and provincial notables.

Understanding social change: demographic analyses of musicians in late Ottoman Istanbul

By: Onur Öner

Abstract: This study aims to explore the social history of musicians in Istanbul that lived during the transitional period and experienced the sociopolitical as well as cultural changes from the late Ottoman to the early Republican periods, roughly from the turn of the twentieth century to the early 1930s. Collective biography analysis upon 257 musicians’ life narratives while revealing certain defining characteristics as well as atypical social aspects of musicians would also enable us to understand to what extent musicians adapted to change that they underwent. Thereby, the unconventional approach of this study lies in the analysis of the links between central policies and the ups and downs in musicians’ career trajectories. In other words, this study seeks to identify the ramifications of the wider sociopolitical transformations in the life narratives of musicians.

Creating the image of ‘the greatest sultan’: indoctrination of children through children’s periodicals under the Hamidian regime (1876-1908)

By: Ali Çapar

Abstract: This article aims to demonstrate the role of the children’s periodicals and magazines in the process of formation of the divine and the greatest sultan character in the minds of children between 1876 and 1908. By examining seven newspapers and magazines from that period, this article points out that these materials emphasized merciful, generous, protective, progressive, reformer, religious and powerful sultan images, which played a considerable role in indoctrination and political socialization of children. In this way, as this article argues, the regime tried to form primarily loyal, and then moral, religious, and well-educated generations who would support the regime’s values and norms. The close examination of the children’s periodicals indicates how the patriotism was closely connected to loving and obeying the rules and laws of the owner of the state, which reduced the meaning of patriotism to being loyal to the sultan, praying for his health and continuation of his rule, and celebrating his birthday. While elucidating the children’s periodicals, this article also provides a glimpse on the bilateral relations between the regime and the publishers and the censorship policy of the period.

Contextualizing the ideology of the Turkish national resistance movement

By: Erik Jan Zürcher

Abstract: The national resistance movement that emerged in Anatolia and Thrace immediately after the end of World War I and that was eventually successful in overturning the peace settlement imposed on the Ottoman Empire by the victorious Entente, has become such an important part of the history of the emergence of the Turkish nation state, that it is studied almost exclusively in that context: as republican prehistory. As a result almost no effort has been made to locate it within the major global developments of the era. This article tries to remedy this by analysing statements coming out of the resistance leadership over the years 1918-1921 to establish where it fits the ideological currents of the day. It concludes that four major inputs can be discerned: loyalty to the Ottoman monarchy and state; Muslim nationalism; Wilsonian self-determination, and Boslevik-inspired anti-imperialism. These influences were not mutually exclusive. Apart from being influenced by contemporary ideological currents, the National Movement was also an influencer: as a movement to preserve an existing state (and not to create or carve out a new one) it was also a pioneer of the revisionist movements of the interbellum that aimed to undo the Paris peace arrangements.Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/00263206.2020.1858061.

Turkey in the UN Security Council during the Cold War: elections, voting motivations and alliance commitments

By: Ali Balci, Ayşenur Hazar

Abstract: Turkey served for five years in the UN Security Council during the early Cold War period. Throughout its service, first in 1951–1952, then in 1954–1955, finally in 1961, Turkey joined 201 voting sessions, and gave many statements on matters before the Security Council. The three electoral campaigns of Turkey for the temporary seat in the Council, and its voting and statement performance during a 5-year service are very informative not only about Turkey’s foreign policy but also about the behavior of small powers during the early Cold War period and the working of the Security Council, the most important international institution. Therefore, this article aims to provide a short story of Turkey’s election to and performance in the Security Council, analyze its voting preferences during temporary membership, and debate Turkey’s voting motivations.

Iran and imperial nationalism in 1919

By: Philip Henning Grobien

Abstract: Interposed between the Constitutional Revolution and the rise of Reza Khan, Iran began a foreign diplomacy that asserted a nuanced nationalism. After the devastation of the First World War, Iran sent a commission to the Peace of Paris. There, Iran put forward a nationalist programme which sought a sovereign and independent Iran, and the return of territory lost since 1828. Whilst many facets in this nationalist programme had been articulated before 1919, it is the consolidation within one programme which makes this programme unusual. It was also the first time such a great number of specific territorial claims were made. This imperial nationalism, requires an assessment within the narrative of Iranian nationalism, and will be explored in this article.

The Jewish past and the ‘birth’ of the Israeli nation state: the case of Ben-Gurion’s Independence Day speeches

By: Adi Sherzer

Abstract: The article focuses on David Ben-Gurion’s past image using a series of programmatic and widely distributed speeches he made during Israel’s first Independence Days (1948-1958). The article argues that while the founding of the state was defined as a turning point it was certainly not portrayed as a ‘beginning’, and that both the ancient sovereign and the exilic Jewish experience had a central place in Ben-Gurion’s relevant past. At the centre of discussion stand five main characteristics of the speeches: the continuation between the state and the Jewish ancient past; the central place of a secularized messianism as a bridge between the exilic past and the sovereign present; the attempt to portray a widely accepted shared past using consensus-based terminology; the simplification of the Zionist rebellion against the exile; and the fundamental differentiation between the Jewish symbolic past and the realistic Israeli present. These five elements are analysed against the background of other texts by Ben-Gurion and his image in the research. Finally, this case study is placed within a wider context which demonstrates the Israeli quest for a Jewish framework of meaning that would authenticate the new national myths and charge them with meaning.

From development towns to ‘Mizrahi enclaves’ – was it Mapai’s intentional policy?

By: Oren David Kalman

Abstract: The notion that development towns, founded at the dawn of the state of Israel, have become slums for North-African Jewish immigrants as part of a deliberate policy that served the status interests of the veteran, dominant Ashkenazi population, is a common perception among some scholars, which has recently taken root among the Israeli public, as well.This article focuses on the problems and hardships that emerged in development towns upon their establishment and the myriad considerations of state leaders and the ruling Party (Mapai), and provides a different interpretation of the government’s actions. In this article, I aim to show how some development towns became Mizrahi enclaves, not as a result of an intentional policy, but mainly due to plans that turned out to be flawed and the demographic trends that took place in these towns, in contradiction to the government’s original intentions and efforts to prevent such an outcome.

Israeli emigration policies in the Gaza Strip: crafting demography and forming control in the aftermath of the 1967 War

By: Omri Shafer Raviv

Abstract: This article uses archival sources to demonstrate how Israel crafted policies in the Gaza Strip following the 1967 War to reduce the size of its population, and how, in a two-year process, it reformed its policies to meet the needs of a long-standing occupation. Underlying these policies was the Israeli aspiration to annex the Strip without absorbing a large number of Arabs. The Israeli government developed an economic policy, based on high unemployment rates and low standard of living, aimed to encourage Gazans, and particularly refugees, to leave. In face of growing resistance, the Israeli government introduced in early 1969 a new economic policy, designed to improve the local economy, while continuing to encourage the emigration to other countries of educated youth. This new policy explains long-term demographic and economic patterns in the Palestinian society under a prolonged occupation and illuminate the Israeli mechanisms of control in the Gaza Strip.

The 1967 war as point of departure for the 1982 war in Lebanon: an uncommon interpretation

By: Dan Naor, Eyal Lewin

Abstract: Israel’s 1982 war in Lebanon is one of the most controversial events in its history. It is considered the war of Prime Minister Menachem Begin and his defense minister, Ariel Sharon, and hence a war of choice. One of the historical questions concerning that war revolves around its origins. The widespread assumption is that the roots can be found in 1981, the year in which Israel was on the verge of war with both Syria and the PLO. However, this article claims that the 1967 Six-Day War was the point of departure to the 1982 Lebanon War when the PLO settled in Lebanon. The issue of the origins of the 1982 war is not an exclusively historiographic matter. It has broader implications concerning the nature of the war. If the roots of the conflict can be found in 1967, then the war was a result of a prolonged process. Indeed, Israel started the war, but it was only after other options that it exercised had failed. Hence, it was not at all a war of choice.

Qutb’s hakimiyyah through the lens of Arendtian authority

By: Hisseine Faradj

Abstract: The influence of Sayyid Qutb’s writing on political Islam and Islamist groups cannot be overstated. In constructing his radical political theory, special attention is usually given to Qutb’s two binary concepts, hakimiyyah (usually translated as divine sovereignty) and jahiliyyah (the condition of any place or society where Allah is not held to be the sovereign being). This article interrogates the commonly accepted notion that hakimiyyah is equivalent to divine sovereignty. Instead, I argue that Qutb’s hakimiyyah is best understood as an Arendtian form of authority (or a bounded sovereignty), even though Qutb’s project is essentially foundational while Arendt’s is antifoundational. Thus, rather than appealing directly to the authority of sharia, Qutb bounds hakimiyyah to a historical founding moment in the city of Mecca, the Meccan Quran, and the ‘unique generation’ during this period. Examining hakimiyyah through the Arendtian lens of authority substitutes the logic of sovereignty with authority based on a voluntary command/obedience relationship. This approach unsettles the binary logic of sovereignty that is often latently integrated into the academic literature on Qutb’s political writing. Consequently, examining Qutb’s hakimiyyah through the Arendtian lens of authority generates a consistent and coherent reading of his political thinking, which is usually deemed inconsistent and paradoxical.

The language policy of the Caliphate State

By: Mashail Haydar Ali

Abstract: This article examines and critiques the macro top-down constitutional language policy of the so-called the Caliphate State, often referred to by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL. Although Sharicah law, claimed to be the only source of the Caliphate’s laws, does not legislate local, official and national language policies, the Caliphate constitutionalises language policy through the misappropriation of Quranic verses. Article 8 of the constitution mandates the adoption of Arabic as the exclusive national and official language of the Caliphate project and its educational system. The monolithic policy exploits the symbiosis between Arabic and Islam to uproot the Islamic tradition of diversity and plurilingualism, advance its homogenising discourse, and globalise militancy. A religiously justified language policy is instrumental for the Caliphate in achieving cultural and linguistic cleansing, propagating its religious-political ideology and maintaining a strict assimilatory mould of indoctrination.

Near Eastern Archaeology (Volume 84, Issue 1)

Archaeogaming: When Archaeology and Video Games Come Together

By: Tine Rassalle

Abstract: The connection between archaeology and video games might come as a surprise to some, especially to those who have never played a video game. However, games and “playing” as a field for serious scholarship and historical research have been explored since the 1930s, when Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga wrote that “play is older than culture.” In Homo Ludens, Huizinga makes the case that from human play comes the creation of cultures, the forming of meaning, and the learning and transmitting of knowledge. His “playing man” engages in game-like practices and rituals, in politics, and in war and violence, showing that play and culture exist side by side as a “twin-union,” but play came first (Huizinga 1938).

Beyond Tomb and Relic: Anthropological and Pedagogical Approaches to Archaeogaming

By: Matthew Winter

Abstract: The advent of the computer chip has radically altered human life at a global scale, and with increasing access to digital platforms it was inevitable that digitization would reshape popular culture. The video game industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in technological and entertainment industries, reaching an enormous audience. It is now estimated that some 2.5 billion people play games worldwide, with 211 million American adults, 52 percent of whom are college educated (see Rassalle in this issue) (fig. 1).

Formless and Void: The Emergence of Biblical Lands in Early Religious Video Games (1982–1991)

By: V. Gonzalez, Tine Rassalle

Abstract: This essay examines how digital signifiers across the first decade of religious video games (1982–1991) helped players to situate themselves in the biblical landscapes. Spanning eight gaming platforms, and many different genres, from puzzle games to adventure, 17 games depicting biblical lands were created in this time period, offering us a fresh perspective on the question of how the past is presented through video games.1

Might, Culture, and Archaeology in Sid Meier’s Civilization

By: Shannon Martino

Abstract: That video games should be socially conscious, engaged with political discourse, or historically accurate may not immediately come to mind: Video games are entertainment. One popular game series, Sid Meier’s Civilization (Civ), however, has run into multiple issues regarding its representations of culture(s) and history, particularly of underrepresented societies. This is unsurprising given the premise of the game, where users create civilizations based upon predefined, somewhat historically informed, often unfamiliar historical cultures. Players are encouraged to learn about these from the quasi-academic, imbedded encyclopedia Civilopedia, from in-game historical allusions and scenarios, game units, buildings, and archaeology.

Persia’s Victory: The Mechanics of Orientalism in Sid Meier’s Civilization

By: Angus Mol, Aris Politopoulos

Abstract: A large Persian army consisting of archers, siege equipment, and fearless Immortals is wedged in a narrow strip between the sea and the mountains. Beyond this pass lies the Greek heartland and the ancient cities of Corinth and Athens. All that stands between Persia and their conquest of Greek cities is a handful of charioteers and bowmen. The battle commences. Arrows cloud the sky but fail to stop the advance of the Immortals. The Greek charioteers, caught by surprise and without enough room to maneuver, are quickly defeated. Corinth cannot stand the siege and soon falls. With minimal losses to the Persian army and little time for the Greeks to regroup, the city of Athens is soon to follow. In a defeat without distinction, the capital of the Greek world is ceded to the Persians. A few years later, nothing but toponyms are left to remind one of the once thriving Greek civilization.

Virtual Ziggurats: Orientalist Views and Playful Spaces

By: Aris Politopoulos

Abstract: With this quotation, this fifth-century BCE Greek historian provides us with a vivid description of Etemenanki, the ziggurat of Babylon. The ziggurat is one of the most enduring symbols of the ancient Near East: From paintings to movies to books to video games, versions of the stepped constructions emerge in popular culture and imagination all the way from classical Greece until today. One could even argue that the ziggurat is a transhistorical symbol (Crowther 2002); it has existed as a symbol not only produced by and related to the ancient Near East, but has transcended its original historical context and has acquired new meanings and images over time. In this article, I explore this transhistoricity of the ziggurat by examining it within western, modern, popular imagination, and particularly within the context of video games. For this, I take an art-historical approach, examining ziggurats from various games to create a ziggurat typology as portrayed in video games. In doing that, I explore how modern conceptions of the ziggurat affect and shape our understanding of the Near East, and how this can be tied to Edward Said’s concept of orientalism (see also Mol and Politopoulos in this issue). I conclude with a brief discussion on how we can reframe the ziggurat within popular culture in order to increase knowledge and awareness about the history and cultures of the ancient Near East today.

Building Kunulua Block by Block: Exploring Archaeology through Minecraft

By: Dominique Langis-Barsetti

Abstract: The Computational Research on the Ancient Near East (CRANE) Project, directed by Tim Harrison of the University of Toronto, has united scholars from a variety of disciplines across several institutions around the globe since 2012. Originally focused on the Orontes Watershed of southern Turkey and northwestern Syria, the goal of the project is to provide researchers with a collaborative framework in which to leverage the full array of data produced by archaeology in order to shed light on the rise and development of complex societies in the region. The pooled resources and skills of collaborators have allowed the project to visualize and model connections between social, economic, and environmental factors across a range of temporal and regional scales (https://crane.utoronto.ca/).

Assassin’s Creed Origins: Video Games as Time Machines

By: Christian Casey

Abstract: Ancient Egypt is far away. Very far away. For too many scholars who study Egypt professionally, it is far away in space. For all of us, it is far away in time—around two thousand years at the nearest point. This distance has consequences. We tend to view the world of ancient Egypt as we would a city on a mountain top: We observe the buildings as amorphous shapes, the people as bug-like creatures moving about at random, the events that shape their lives as momentary flurries of activity. Deliberate study provides an alternative view. Through the telescopic lens of scholarship, individual moments come into focus, are magnified, and become real, but the whole remains an incomplete sum of its disconnected parts. To use a more-familiar metaphor, we modern scholars see either the texture of the bark or the blue-gray smudge of a distant forest (fig. 1). We have no choice but to miss the forest for the trees, we can never experience them together.

Assassin’s Creed Origins Discovery Tour: A Behind the Scenes Experience

By: Perrine Poiron

Abstract: Assassin’s Creed: Origins was released at the British Museum in September 2017. For this particular event, which was celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Ubisoft organized a colossal event, inviting influencers from all around the world plus media and some academics. This large event clearly shows the importance of this video game franchise, which started in 2007 with the launch of the first Assassin’s Creed game, set in Crusader Israel. Since then, twelve games have been released, each taking place in a specific time period, from the Peloponnesian War to the Renaissance era to the Victorian period.

Colossal Cave Archaeology: Epigraphy, FORTRAN Code-Artifacts, and the Ur-Game

By: Andrew Reinhard

Abstract: As explained by Tine Rassalle in her article introducing this special issue, video games and archaeology intersect in many ways, all of which can be applied to the archaeology of the Near East. Other authors in this issue describe video games (and their underlying engines) as pedagogical tools, tools for digital visualizations and reconstructions, and offer windows into how archaeology and archaeologists are perceived by both designers and players, which can also inform them about different interpretations of the ancient Near East and its many cultures. In this article, however, I take a different approach, showing that one can take methods, tools, and theories used by more traditional archaeologists working on Near Eastern topics and apply them to work on digital artifacts from the late twentieth century (Reinhard 2019: 49–130).