[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the eighteenth 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.]
Arab Studies Quarterly (Volume 43, Issue 4)
By: Gamal M. Selim, Rania S. Moaaz
Abstract: [In 2014, China and Egypt upgraded their bilateral relations to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership, providing a new framework under which both states have been able to intensify and deepen their cooperation as never before. Building on the concept of strategic partnership as a newly emerging framework of international cooperation, this article examines the dynamics of the Sino-Egyptian comprehensive strategic partnership from the perspective of the driving motivations of both actors, its policy manifestations as well as its potential challenges in the future. The article contends that while the Sino-Egyptian comprehensive strategic partnership has offered an ideal framework of win-win bilateral cooperation that corresponded to the strategic interests and needs of both actors in a critical historical juncture post-2013, this framework, which involves a number of imbedded limitations, might not continue to serve bilateral interactions in the medium and long terms, particularly as it pertains to their future corresponding security and economic concerns.]
By: Mohamed Salah-Eddine Madiou
Abstract: The debate on Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist has, over the years, built what Stanley Fish calls an “interpretive community” which dictates how a work should be read and discussed. The quite tedious yet all-pervading claim that Hamid, in his novels, concerns himself with globalization, economy, neoliberalism, politics, multiculturalism, identity, and whatnot is today so fashionably common among Hamid critics that it feels like this is all what Hamid’s literature has to offer. This article engages in a critical discussion with Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and its critics and suggests a new alternative to read-ing the novel and, by implication, Hamid’s other novels. It argues that a significant aspect of The Reluctant Fundamentalist has been left undiscussed: art. Hamid’s text, I submit, not only reflects on its own footprints, which makes it metafictional, but also revolves around Hamid’s own artistic pursuits, experiences, and intimacies which, I suggest, are represented through erica, herself a novelist in the story, whom Hamid artistically uses to speak his name.
By: Nevine Abraham
Abstract: This article examines the narrative of resistance to social subordination and the manipulated notions of faithfulness and treason in Hisham Matar’s In the Country of Men(2006) observed through the lens of the child narrator, 9-year-old Suleiman, who grows criti-cal of the patriarchy and power hierarchy of Libyan society’s private and public spheres. In the private sphere, his mother’s retelling of her forced marriage at a young age informs his initial aversion of patriarchy. In the public sphere, the revolutionary Committee’s policing and suppression of dissent, and the neighbor’s public execution amid a cheering crowd, shed light on the dynamics of subservience and divisiveness. Though the novel takes place in 1979 Libya, it raises questions on the possibility of individual agency and rise of the citizen against a post-colonial Arab despotic regime, where patriarchal authoritarianism, rooted in colonial-ism, creates a system of dependency and subjugation that undermines citizens’ power and manipulates faith as a medium of submissiveness. This article concludes with some reflec-tions on the outcomes of 2011 Arab uprisings with regards to active citizenship.
Arabica (Volume 68, Issue 5-6)
By: Janne Mattila
Abstract: Rasāʾil Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ and its summary, al-Risāla l-Ǧāmiʿa, are commonly attributed to the same authors. The strongest argument for this is the presence of references from the former to the latter. The aim of the present article is to analyze all of these references to establish their import for the theory of common authorship. When the fourteen references in the Beirut edition are compared with the oldest manuscripts, the result is that only six of these references appear in the latter, and even among these two are highly ambiguous. The only references from Rasāʾil Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ to al-Risāla l-Ǧāmiʿa unambiguously confirmed by the oldest manuscripts are the four references in version B of epistle 52, which is itself of dubious authenticity. Since all or most of the references outside epistle 52 are then clearly later interpolations, the conclusion is that the references in Rasāʾil Iḫwān al-Ṣafāʾ do not support the theory of common authorship.
Scientific Method in Late-Antique Paganism: The (Rational) Empiricism of al-Filāḥa l-nabaṭiyya (The Nabatean Agriculture)
By: Elaine van Dalen
Abstract: The reputation of the late-antique or early Islamic al-Filāḥa l-nabaṭiyya (The Nabatean Agriculture) as an esoteric forgery has recently begun to shift and its value as a source for the study of early-Islamic or late-antique Near Eastern paganism has been restored. This article contributes to a further reinterpretation of the work by elucidating its value for the history of late-antique and early Islamic science. It argues that the work distinguishes between the epistemological categories of the rational and the marvelous and critically approaches both based on a rational empiricism which it shares with contemporary disciplines such as medicine and astrology. The concepts of experience (taǧriba) and reason (qiyās) are central to al-Filāḥa l-nabaṭiyya’s epistemology, and the work relies on observation and experiments, combined with methods of deductive and analogical reasoning to obtain applied botanical and agricultural knowledge. Al-Filāḥa l-nabaṭiyya also contains competing views regarding prophecy and astrological knowledge which are illustrative of epistemological debates within Pagan late-antique scholarship.
The Four Signs of the Art: Edition and Translation of an Alchemical Epistle Attributed to Ḫālid b. Yazīd and its Latin Translation
By: Marion Dapsens, Sébastien Moureau
Abstract: In the article, the authors present a study, a critical edition and an English translation of an Arabic alchemical epistle attributed to the Umayyad prince Ḫālid b. Yazīd, together with its Latin translation recently identified by the authors. Among the many alchemical works attributed to Ḫālid b. Yazīd, this untitled Risāla (inc.: إني رأيت الناس طلبوا صنعة الحكمة) is the second most represented in the manuscript tradition, with no less than twelve witnesses containing it. Its partial Latin translation, available in six manuscripts, was also attributed to Calid, but the name of the translator remains unknown.
Looted Libraries and Legitimation Policies: Ptolemy, the Library of al-Arawšī and the Translation Movement in Toledo
By: José Bellver
Abstract: MS Tunis, Dār al-kutub al-waṭaniyya, 7116, is the only extant manuscript containing a complete copy of the Isḥāq/Ṯābit version of the Almagest. Paul Kunitzsch has underlined the close similarities between the marginal notes in the Tunis manuscript and those in Gerard of Cremona’s Latin translation of the Almagest, so that Kunitzsch has concluded that Gerard of Cremona had a manuscript close to the Tunis manuscript before him during the revision of his translation of the Almagest. A note in MS Tunis, Dār al-kutub al-waṭaniyya, 7116, points out that this manuscript was copied from a model owned by al-Arawšī, a bibliophile living in Valencia famous for the size of his library, a significant part of which was looted by al-Maʾmūn b. Ḏī l-Nūn and sent to Toledo, arguably shortly before Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī wrote his Ṭabaqāt al-umam. Based on MS Tunis, Dār al-kutub al-waṭaniyya, 7116, the present contribution explores the significance of al-Arawšī’s looted library as an important link between Umayyad Cordoba and Toledo. It also calls attention to the highly unusual paper of MS Tunis, Dār al-kutub al-waṭaniyya, 7116, made of woven fibers, maybe flax.
Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (Volume , Issue 386)
By: Silvia Ferrara, Barbara Montecchi, Miguel Valério
Abstract: What is the origin of the earliest script in Europe? Is it invented locally or borrowed from an external template? How can we go about addressing this problem? A common view is that the script in question, Cretan Hieroglyphic, is locally created but externally inspired, probably through an influence from Egypt. But this appreciation should be the result of a full examination of the evidence, rather than a superficial appraisal of the script signs. This article reframes this approach, starting with generic assessments on origin and stimulus, and so opens a new avenue that takes into account the following aspects: 1) the establishment of a methodology for cross-comparisons between the Egyptian and Cretan scripts; 2) the situated context of the Egyptian and Cretan scripts in the mid-3rd to late 3rd millennium b.c.e.; 3) the local Cretan seal imagery; and 4) case studies of sign shapes, representing physical and immaterial referents across the Egyptian Hieroglyphic and Cretan repertoires. Only from this broad, multicentric framework, which has input from archaeology, epigraphy, iconography, and paleography, can we establish a solid method to address the origin of Cretan Hieroglyphic.
By: David Ben-Shlomo, Lauren K McCormick
Abstract: This article discusses the Judean Pillar Figurines found in Tell en-Naṣbeh. The site yielded the highest number of these Iron Age II figurines after Jerusalem. Our study focuses on the significance of this distribution, the contexts in which the figurines were found at the site, as well as a compositional (petrographic) analysis of their clay. Fifteen anthropomorphic figurines as well as five “bed models” were analyzed by thin section petrography. The results indicate these objects were not made of the commonly used local clay and were probably not locally produced at Tell en-Naṣbeh, though other types of clay objects were. The possibility that the figurines were produced in Jerusalem is discussed, as well as the implications of these results.
By: Hermann Genz, Alexander Ahrens
Abstract: While Early Bronze Age glyptic finds from the southern Levant as well as from Syria have received considerable attention in the scholarly literature, unfortunately the same cannot be said about the glyptic material from Lebanon. For a long time, Byblos was the only site with a considerable number of Early Bronze Age glyptic finds, but the often unclear stratigraphic and contextual situation of the material hugely diminished its scientific value. Fortunately, in recent years more clearly stratified material has emerged from Sidon, Tell Arqa, and Tell Fadous-Kfarabida, which for the first time enables us to better define the glyptic styles in use in the central Levant during the 4th and 3rd millennia b.c.e. The paper presents the glyptic finds from Tell Fadous-Kfarabida, located on the Lebanese coast just 12 km north of Byblos, with a special emphasis on the iconography of the seals and seal impressions, as well as their contribution towards the external relations of the site.
A Radiocarbon Sequence for the Late Bronze to Iron Age Transition at Ashkelon: Timing Early Philistine Pottery
By: Yotam Asscher, Mario A. S. Martin,Daniel Master, Elisabetta Boaretto
Abstract: From 1985–2014, the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon excavated a trench on the north side of Ashkelon’s central mound (Grid 38) exposing a Bronze and Iron Age sequence over an area of some 450 m2. By combining different radiocarbon sampling strategies used over the years of excavation, an absolute chrono-cultural scheme is constructed for the latter half of the 2nd millennium b.c.e. with a focus on the transition to the Iron Age. This chronology is then synchronized with several nearby sites.
Performance Frozen in Time: A New Iron Age II Female Ceramic Figurine from Jneneh, North Central Jordan
By: Regine Hunziker-Rodewald, Khaled A. Douglas
Abstract: To date, about 470 female ceramic figurines are known to originate from Iron Age sites across Jordan.1 This article sheds light on a distinct type by studying a recently discovered figurine from a newly excavated settlement at Jneneh, Wadi az-Zarqa, in north central Jordan.
By: Robert Wenning, Megan A. Perry
Abstract: The complex Nabataean “Götterwelt”1 incorporates deities from both their own tradition as well as imports from the larger Mediterranean and peninsular Arabian context. In 2014, a small naiskos depicting a possible imported deity was discovered in a tomb containing at minimum eight individuals, located on the northern edge of the ancient city of Petra. Geochemical investigation of the individuals buried in the tomb using strontium (87Sr/86Sr) and oxygen (δ18O) isotopes indicated only locally born individuals were interred within the tomb. The goddess depicted in the bas-relief sculpture is wearing a tunic and covered by a cloak and is flanked by two lions. Comparanda from the eastern Mediterranean showing similar iconography of the naiskos point to the goddess’s identity as Cybele, Atargatis, or Allāt, with most evidence suggesting Allāt. However, the emic perceptions of and ritual praxis involving this object and the goddess beyond its mortuary inclusion remain unclear. Therefore, regardless of the identification of the goddess it venerates, this portable naiskos served an important mortuary purpose for an individual locally born in the Petra region.
By: Carol Meyer
Abstract: Excavation of Area WG at Nippur in 1989 yielded a large corpus of glass ranging in date from late Parthian to Islamic, mainly Abbasid. Islamic glass from Iraq is poorly studied and scrappily published, often concentrating on fancy, luxury vessels. This makes the large group of excavated, datable, domestic glassware from Nippur important for archaeologists dealing with the early Islamic period in Iraq and for those researching Abbasid glass. Further, I propose that Abbasid Levels III and II run later than suggested in the preliminary report, with Level II extending most likely into the early 10th century. This means that at least part of the site of Nippur remained occupied into the period when almost all of southern Iraq was severely depopulated. Finally, I raise the question of what can be gleaned from old, partial field records from a country devastated by decades of sanctions and war.
Sifting Through: The Characteristics and Significance of Ceramic Strainer-Vessels in the Chalcolithic Period of the Southern Levant
By: Edwin Cornelis Martinus van den Brink,Rivka Chasan, Danny Rosenberg
Abstract: A strainer is an autonomous utensil (sieve or colander) or an integral part (filter) of a utensil designed to separate mixtures based on grain size. In the southern Levant, strainer vessels made of clay are known since the Early Chalcolithic period, albeit few in number. The onset of the Late Chalcolithic period reflects a significant increase in the numbers and distribution of these particular vessels even though their numbers per site remain relatively low. This paper surveys foremost Late Chalcolithic strainer vessels from the southern Levant, discussing their morphology, significance and possible role as straining and sifting devices for liquids (e.g., olive or other oils, herbal or botanical mixtures, and alcoholic beverages) and solid substances (e.g., fats and flour). While results from our ongoing organic residue analysis concerning this and other types of Late Chalcolithic vessels are yet to come, we can already suggest that these vessels entail a variety of tasks and that they were used in a number of different contexts based on the variability of strainer vessel types and the strainer morphology.
Identity Creation and Resource Controlling Strategies: Thoughts on Edomite Ethnogenesis and Development
By: Aren M. Maeir
Abstract: In this paper I suggest that the evolution of the control of natural resources and trade routes in the Arabah Valley and its environs was the basis for the formation of Edomite identity in the early Iron Age. Building on insights on ethnogenesis in Southeast Asia in the studies of Joseph Scott and James Warren, I attempt to align this with recent discussions on early Edom, and the role that this group played in the regional economic web of the Iron Age.
The Origin of Imported Jars from 6th Dynasty Abusir: New Light on Early Bronze Age Egyptian-Levantine Relations
By: Karin Sowada,Mary Ownby, Miroslav Bárta
Abstract: Thin-section petrography on imported Combed jars from the 6th Dynasty Abusir tomb complex of Qar and his family identified the central Levant, between Beirut and Tripoli, as the production zone of the vessels. Dating to the reign of 6th Dynasty king Pepy II (ca. 2278–2184 b.c.), the jars were made of the same mixed Cretaceous clay type used for imports of the early Old Kingdom. None of the Abusir material was an Egyptian imitation, contrary to previous assessments. The petrography demonstrates the long continuity of exchange networks with a specific area of the central Levant for over 350 years. During the Old Kingdom from the early 4th Dynasty to the late 6th Dynasty, exchange networks with the region intensified, confirming long-held understandings based on fragmentary archaeological data and the slender textual record.
The Archaeology of Regional Muslim Pilgrimage Reevaluated: The Site of Nabi Rubin (Israel) as a Case Study
By: Itamar Taxel,Avraham (Avi) Sasson,Moshe Fischer, Nitzan Amitai-Preiss
Abstract: This research constitutes a first attempt to discuss a Muslim pilgrimage site from a holistic, in-depth archaeological perspective. Our case study is Nabi Rubin, on the southern coastal plain of Israel, which was active from at least the early 15th century until the late British Mandate period and was one of the major foci of Muslim pilgrimage in historical Palestine. Pilgrimage to Nabi Rubin was characterized by a one-month-long organized celebration that took place every summer and attracted masses of pilgrims from Jaffa in the north to Gaza in the south. The research uses the site’s architectural and other human-created and natural landscape features—including historical trees and the rich material culture remnants left behind by pilgrims and other visitors, in addition to the written and photographic historical evidence related to Nabi Rubin—in order to draw additional information that can assist in interpreting the mute physical elements. The study provides a synthesis and interpretation of the site’s chronology, material culture, the activities and behaviors that took place there during festival periods, and methodological aspects of the interpretation of historical trees. The results highlight the uniqueness of Nabi Rubin compared to other Muslim pilgrimage sites in Palestine, and its significant potential for an archaeological research of Muslim pilgrimage in the region.
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Volume 84, Issue 3)
By: Kumail Rajani
Abstract: In this article, I develop and test a new methodology of unearthing early Shii ḥadı̄th sources that served as the basis for the later collections of the fourth/tenth century. This method, besides answering the question of historicity, enables us to understand the dissemination of texts across times and regions. As a case-study, I examine what is alleged to have been the first Shii legal ḥadı̄th collection, a work attributed to ʿUbaydullāh b. ʿAlī al-Ḥalabī (d. c. 148/765). By comparing the reports transmitted on the authority of al-Ḥalabī in the Twelver ḥadı̄th compendium originating in Qum, al-Kulaynī’s al-Kāfī, and an Ismaili legal ḥadı̄th composition, al-Qāḍī al-Nuʿmān’s al-Īḍāḥ, composed in Qayrawān, I demonstrate that both works trace their material to an earlier Kūfan source of the second/eighth century, with each work drawing on the same material independently. A cross-regional textual analysis of later ḥadı̄th compendia, in this case composed by contemporaneous scholars, residing in different regions, affiliated to dissimilar religious persuasions, reveals the transmission of identical material; this finding contributes to our understanding of both geographical transmission of early sources and compositional arrangements of the later ḥadı̄th compendia.
By: Amir Ahmadi
Abstract: There are two schemes of creation in Zoroastrianism. According to one, Ohrmazd fashions the world in the manner of a skilful craftsman. According to the second, Ohrmazd gestates and gives birth to the world. This article is about the latter. The relevant Pahlavi texts are presented and discussed. The article argues that Pahlavi authors used macrocosm-microcosm correspondence theory to elaborate the doctrine from Avestan rudiments.
By: Mehrbod Khanizadeh
Abstract: The manuscripts of the Iranian Pahlavi Yasna contain two consecutive colophons, the second of which relates the story of how their common ancestor manuscript, which combines the Avestan text of the Yasna with its Pahlavi version, was created. It is argued that Rōstahm Dād-Ohrmazd produced the first Pahlavi Yasna manuscript by taking the Avestan text from one manuscript and the Pahlavi text of a manuscript by Farrbay Srōšayār. Furthermore, it is argued that Rōstahm Dād-Ohrmazd wrote this manuscript both for himself and for Mahayār Farroxzād, who was from the province of Bīšāpuhr. The manuscript of Rōstahm Dād-Ohrmazd was then copied by Māhwindād Narmāhān, who composed the second colophon. This article also discusses the first colophon as it appears in the Iranian Pahlavi Yasna manuscript T54, which differs from other manuscripts of this group as it includes a passage written by a scribe called Kāyūs. It is argued that T54 was produced by Kāyūs, who added this passage to its first colophon. Furthermore, variant readings of these two colophons in two manuscripts of the Iranian Pahlavi Yasna, which also include Kāyūs’s passage, are discussed. Unlike T54, Kāyūs’s passage forms a separate colophon in these two manuscripts. It is suggested the two colophons are corrected according to the mindset of their respective scribes.
Dead Sea Discoveries (Volume 28, Issue 3)
By: Carol A. Newsom
Abstract: Although the lived experience of subjectivity for persons in antiquity cannot be known directly, one can study certain texts as tools for the formation of subjects. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls two compositions are particularly instructive, the Hodayot found in 1QHa 2–9, 18–28 (the Hodayot of the Maskil, also known as Hodayot of the Community) and the Two Spirits Teaching (1QS 3:13–4:26). Each develops an understanding of subjectivity based on subtle interpretations of creation traditions, developed through sophisticated intertextual readings. The Hodayot privilege Gen 2–3; the Two Spirits Teaching emphasizes Gen 1. Although mutually contradictory on the surface, the two accounts actually develop subjectivities that share many similarities. By analyzing these converging patterns one may get some sense of the lived subjectivity that was created by the various texts and practices of the Yahad community.
“May My Musings Please Him” (Psalm 104:34): On the Transformation of Inner Self-Awareness in Wisdom Psalms
By: Friedhelm Hartenstein
Abstract: This article examines the use of the verbs of “meditation” śyḥ and hgh and the corresponding nouns, especially in the Psalms and the Hodayot. Focusing on “meditation” sheds light on the constitution and transformation of an inner self-awareness in Judaism during the Second Temple period. In addition, this article draws on insights from historical and philosophical anthropology to support and deepen the argument. The article examines four Psalms groups from the Hebrew Bible and the Hodayot in order to reveal conceptual and terminological continuity as well as a more precise understanding of reflective literary practices in early Jewish scribal culture.
By: Ishay Rosen-Zvi
Abstract: The halakhic practice does more than regulating the inner world; it takes part in forming it, generating a unique legal subject. But is there a unique halakhic Self? This article examines this question in the context of Tannaitic halakha, both Mishnaic and Midrashic. More specifically I ask whether one can speak of subjectivity in Tannaitic halakha. I study the relationship between anonymous halakhic rulings and specific positions presented in the name of individual sages or argued with the force of personal commitment. Through analyzing the “I” language in Tannaitic literature, in comparison with the rhetoric of prerabbinic halakha, I wish to advance the ongoing search for the rabbinic Self.
The Heart of Self Formation: The Overlap of Moral Selfhood and Legalities in Ancient Scriptural Discourse
By: Phillip M. Lasater
Abstract: This article discusses the “heart” as part of the terminology for selfhood in ancient Jewish literature. After discussing a couple of criticisms of studies of the self and showing how these criticisms fail to persuade, the paper examines a range of texts in the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and beyond for conceptions of the moral self. Special attention is given to the legal S tradition in the Scrolls as a fruitful illustration of how the self and law are recurring conceptual companions. In this legal tradition, a universalizing conception of selfhood and agency is rooted in local, practical concerns of a community.
By: Ingrid E. Lilly
Abstract: A contribution to Western genealogies of the self, the corporeality of the Hebrew soul (nefeš) is explored through the lens of ancient medical discourses. Using the example of bitterness as an ethnomedical syndrome, this essay shows how the Hebrew idiom “bitter nefeš” acts as an embodied channel of flux in illness narratives about bodily suffering and healing.
By: David Lambert
Abstract: This paper considers whether biblical narrative was used as part of a technology of the self in Jewish antiquity. Many have seen the assumption that Israel’s ancestors were perfect and, hence, worthy of imitation as essential to the Bible’s identity as Scripture around the turn of the Common Era. Recently several scholars have detailed the specific dynamics of exemplarity among certain readers of the Bible, such as Philo, particularly in light of Hellenistic and Roman models. Such work draws attention to the relative lack of explicit attestation for such a practice in much of ancient Jewish literature. As a next step, we need to further delineate what constitutes a literary practice of exemplarity and explore alternatives or additions to it, such as memorialization. To do so, this paper examines a range of texts, including the Genesis Apocryphon, the Book of Jubilees, Ben Sira, Philo, Josephus, and the rabbinic collection, Genesis Rabbah.
Iran (Volume 59, Issue 2)
Remapping the World in a Fifteenth-Century Cosmography: Genres and Networks Between Deccan India and Iran
By: Vivek Gupta
Abstract: This article examines codicological evidence for the presence of an illustrated Persian cosmography (‘ajā’ib al-makhlūqāt) (British Library Add 23564) at the fifteenth-century Bahmani court (1347–1538) of Deccan India. It traces this manuscript’s itinerary from the dating of its colophon 1441, to its place in Bahmani Bidar, to a subimperial Mughal library, to its move to ‘Adil Shahi Bijapur in 1618, and finally to its arrival at the British Library in 1860. It argues that distinguishing manuscript genre from textual genre when considering book production over a longue durée enables one to see books more clearly through the lens of their makers and readers. By establishing this cosmography’s place in South Asia, this article enables it to be situated within the activity of this manuscript genre throughout the Deccan’s early modern period.
By: A. C. S. Peacock
Abstract: This paper examines MS D. 92 of the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras/Chennai, which contains the works of ‘Iyani, a late fifteenth century Shirazi poet and historian. ‘Iyani had migrated to the Deccan, and wrote in Persian in the Bahmani sultanate (1347–1528), receiving the patronage of both Sultan Mahmud Shah (r. 1482–924) and Habib al-Din Muhibballah, a descendant of the Sufi saint Shah Ni‘matallah Vali of Kirman. The paper investigates ‘Iyani’s works, which comprise qasidas, ghazals, ruba‘iyyat and two mathnavīs, the Jangnama-i Shahrukh and the Fathnama-i Mahmud Shahi. The latter, recording the defeat of a rebellion led by the Abyssinian commander in Gulbarga, Dastur Dinar, sheds new light on the political and factional environment in the final stages of Bahmani rule. ‘Iyani’s works represent a new source for the cultural, literary and political history of the fifteenth century Deccan.
By: Philip Bockholt
Abstract: Khvandamir’s general history Habib al-Siyar (Beloved of Careers), one of the major historiographical narratives of the Persianate world, was composed for the founder of the Safavid dynasty in Iran, Shah Ismaʿil, in the 1520s. Some years later, the author ideologically reshaped his work at Babur’s Timurid-Mughal court in Agra. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the book was widely copied across the Islamic lands and, judging by the number of extant manuscripts (c. 600), the Habib al-Siyar might be called a premodern bestseller. Interestingly, several chapters dealing with the history of India (Hindustan) were apparently added by the author later on and have not been included in the printed editions. Based on the examination of widely scattered manuscripts, this article examines the textual transmission of these chapters. Furthermore, it explores the question of how Khvandamir integrated information about India into the main narrative and which sources he relied on in order to situate the region within an overarching narrative of Islamic history. This approach gives further insights into the precise quality and quantity of knowledge about the Indian subcontinent available in Iran around 1500, as well as into copying processes of texts in premodern times.
By: Charles Melville
Abstract: In around 1584, while based in his capital at Fatehpur-Sikri, Akbar commissioned a history of Timur and his successors, including his own reign up to that date. The result, the Tarikh-i Khandan-i Timuriyya, an impressively large and heavily illustrated manuscript, now preserved in Patna, with 132 full-page paintings on 332 folios, has not received the same level of attention as Akbar’s other historical commissions from around the same period, notably the Tarikh-i Alfi and the Baburnama. In particular, little or no attention has been paid to the text. This paper seeks to put the manuscript both in its immediate historical and historiographical context and in its relationship with these other illustrated works, created to celebrate Akbar’s political and spiritual authority and dynastic inheritance. It can be shown that the portion of the Tarikh-i Alfi that covers the same period – including the reigns of Babur, Humayun and Akbar – draws almost verbatim on the Khandan-i Timuriyya. This suggests that the same author might have been responsible for both works and is consistent with other indications that the production of the manuscript might have been later than generally supposed.
Revisiting a Royal Sultanate Manuscript from Bengal: The Sharafnama of Nasir al-Din Nusrat Shah of 938/1531–2
By: Emily Shovelton
Abstract: The subject of this paper is a striking copy of the Sharafnama by Nizami dated 938/1531–2, made for the ruler of Bengal, Nusrat Shah (r.1519–32). This slim volume contains nine vibrant paintings that show the assimilation of both Indic and Persian artistic traditions: adaptations common to several fifteenth-century manuscripts from the Indian sultanates. However, there are no other surviving manuscripts that were produced in the court of the Bengal Sultanate, and no evidence of commercial workshops in the region. Therefore, it is a challenge to situate this Sharafnama. Since the manuscript was published some forty years ago, there have been only a few cursory mentions in general discussions. This paper aims to contextualise this manuscript within Indo-Persian pictorial and narrative traditions. The Sharafnama can be better understood in this context of both local traditions and wider Persianate culture.
Hilali and Mir ‘Ali: Sunnis among the Shi‘is, or Shi‘is among the Sunnis between the Shaybanids, Safavids and the Mughals
By: Firuza Melville
Abstract: In 1788 Ephraim Pote, a British merchant in Patna, sent a large portion of the manuscript collection which formerly belonged to Colonel of the East India Company Antoine Polier. Among those manuscripts there was a Divan by Badr al-Din Hilali, who was executed by the Uzbek Sultan ‘Ubaydallah right after the conquest of Herat in 1529. The calligrapher responsible for compiling the impressive selection of Hilali’s Divan was the famous Mir ‘Ali Haravi. He produced it in fond memory of his perished friend and their beloved Herat, when he was already working for ‘Ubaydallah in Bukhara, where he had been brought as part of the Sultan’s intellectual booty. The manuscript is exceptionally important from various points of view: history, literature, artistic decoration and provenance. It is not only the earliest surviving copy of Hilali’s Divan, but allows the siege of Herat to be attributed with more chronological precision than was possible before. When the manuscript arrived to Delhi by the time of Emperor Shahjahan, it had spectacular marginal decorations of arabesque, floral and animalistic motifs in gold and polychrome. This makes the manuscript a brilliant example of intercultural communication between Persia, Central Asia and India in the sixteenth century.
Textual Culture Between India and Iran: The Reproduction of Verse in Nasrabadi’s Biographical Anthology
By: James White
Abstract: Until now, the textual history of the poetry transmitted in Persian literary anthologies has solely been the concern of editors preparing works for print publication. This article contends that an investigation of variance is also of relevance for writing the cultural history of how anthologists encountered, manipulated, and published poems in the manuscript age. While a shortage of independent textual witnesses makes it harder to undertake this kind of study for the earliest periods of Persian literary history, such research can be conducted for later eras, including the seventeenth century, the time-frame covered by the biographical anthology of Muhammad Tahir Nasrabadi (d. ca. 1698). In order to sample the degree of variance present in Nasrabadi’s anthology, his recensions of the verse of twenty poets are compared here with the available manuscript copies of the same twenty poets’ collected works. Instead of judging Nasrabadi’s accuracy in reproducing each fragment, I evaluate what variance can tell us about paths of textual transmission between Mughal North India, the Deccan Sultanates, and Safavid Iran. The evidence presented here reinforces the supposition that anthologies are fundamentally shaped by the social networks out of which they arise.
By: Parul Singh
Abstract: The paper examines the Windsor Castle ‘Ishqnama, an autobiographical account of the amorous entanglements by the last king of Awadh, Wajid ‘Ali Shah (r. 1847–56), as one of the strategies for projecting an image of an ideal masculine ruler through the control over the bodies of “his” women—the paris (fairies) in his Parikhana, an establishment of women singers and dancers, many of whom were his mut‘a wives, and the women of his zenana. The ‘Ishqnama revealed the royal harem both visually and textually. The paper contextualises this strategic revealment by a tangential viewing of the harem of the contemporary Persian ruler, Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar, who similarly revealed the women of his harem by photographing them at a critical period when his image as an ideal ruler was being eroded. Discourse surrounding Wajid Ali Shah’s association with the “fairies” was diverse, with reactions ranging from adulatory accounts, to severe criticism. The paper highlights these polemic narratives by the British on the one hand and a Persian traveller, Waqar al-Mulk Tabrizi who visited Lucknow in the 1870s on the other, to examine culturally diverse perceptions about what constituted the “right” exhibition of sexuality by a ruler and how this exhibition underlined his ability to rule.
Iran and the Caucasus (Volume 25, Issue 3)
Relocating the Prophet’s Image: Narrative Motifs and Local Appropriation of the Zarathustra Legend in Pre- and Early Islamic Iran (Part II – North-West Iran)
By: Gianfilippo Terribili
Abstract: From the very beginning of Iranian disciplinary studies, the material concerning Zarathustra’s biography has been analysed in depth, firstly to identify the homeland of the Prophet and then to discuss the historical reality of this authoritative figure. Despite the divergences of opinion, emphasis has always been placed on the reconstruction of the figure of Zarathustra and much less on the socio-cultural context in which the image of the Prophet was cultivated. The present paper represents the second part of a larger work (see Terribili 2020) that aims to reverse this perspective and emphasize those data, which link up narrative variations and extensions with local identities. In fact, variations in geographical setting reveal processes of acculturation through which social groups reinvented the influential image of the Prophet within a familiar horizon. In this respect, the Sasanian period proved pivotal in the formation of both Zoroastrian and Iranian communal identities. In the wake of the first work, this second paper approaches aspects connected to the North-West Iran and Ādurbādagān tradition.
By: Antonio Panaino
Abstract: The present article analyses the historical importance assumed by Parthian and Middle Persian moγ/mow (and related words) in the framework of the religious and administrative language of Late Antiquity despite its seemingly absolute absence in the Avestan Sprachgut. Although moγ should be reasonably considered as a word of (prominent) Western Iranian derivation, i.e. from Median and Old Persian magu-, the progressive phonetic evolution toward a spelling, such as that of early Parthian and Middle Persian *moγ(u)- created a fitting resonance with a rare Avestan word (in its turn probably nonexistent in the older strata of the language, if not even a Western loanword itself), specifically moγu-°, which is attested only in the Y.Av. compound moγu.tb̰ iš-. The rising weight assumed by the priestly college of the Magi in secular activities already during the Achaemenian period promoted the preservation of this title also after the diffusion of the Avestan liturgy in Western Iran. This development also ensured that the designation of *moγ(u)- became extended to the whole family of the Zoroastrian priests following the Avestan tradition.
By: Mahmood Monshipouri, Javad Heiran-Nia
Abstract: The aim of this essay is to demonstrate that cooperation and competition between Russia, Iran, and Turkey requires ongoing regional political recalibrations regarding oil and gas pipelines and transportation routes. We argue that while much has changed in regional politics, Russian domination of the region remains intact, with Tehran and Ankara finding themselves in constant competition with each other while also balancing their interests versus those of Russia. We first review oil and gas pipelines administered by the Republic of Azerbaijan, the major beneficiary of the U.S. sanctions on Iran and the recent Nagorno-Karabakh war. We then explore a comparative analysis of the security interests and strategies of Iran, Russia, and Turkey toward the South Caucasus. Finally, we examine the way in which the second Nagorno-Karabakh war has posed new challenges to Iran’s interests and policies in the region.
By: Adrian C. Pirtea
Abstract: This article reviews a collection of twenty-six studies on Eurasia in Late Antiquity, edited by Nicola Di Cosmo and Michael Maas (2018). Aside from presenting a brief summary of all the chapters included in the volume, I discuss several contributions at length and engage with the methodology outlined by the editors in the Introduction. While the book focuses on Late Antique steppe empires (Huns, Türks, Avars, etc.) and the multiple ways these interacted with the great sedentary states of Eurasia (Byzantium, Iran, China), many chapters offer exciting new perspectives on a score of other topics, such as Silk Road trade, religion, history of science, migration, diplomacy and political ideology. On the whole, Empires and Exchanges is an extremely valuable addition to the growing number of studies that attempt to provide a holistic approach to Eurasian history.
Iranian Studies (Volume 54, Issue 5-6)
Definiteness Marking from Evaluative Morphology in Balochi: Internal Variation and Diachronic Pathway
By: Maryam Nourzaei
Abstract: This paper investigates the usage and frequency of what is referred to as K-suffixes in three Balochi dialects, namely Koroshi, Coastal and Sistani Balochi. It shows that K-suffixes are most likely the reflexes of earlier evaluative morphology, traditionally termed “diminutives,” and are characterized by a high degree of multi-functionality. While in Coastal and Sistani Balochi evaluative functions continue to dominate, they have been largely lost in Koroshi Balochi, and the suffix is now used to indicate definiteness. The development appears to have been spearheaded by female speakers, and its frequency is also dependent on genre and speech situation. Data is taken from an extensive corpus of spoken Balochi narratives and from a questionnaire with thirty-six speakers. The results suggest that evaluative morphology can develop into definiteness marking, with the development passing over a stage of combination with deictic markers. The paper concludes that the development of definiteness marking can proceed down a pathway that is distinct from the one normally assumed for demonstrative-based definite marking, though the endpoint may be similar. This is the first detailed documentation of this process for any Iranian language, and one of the few well-documented cases of a non-demonstrative origin of definiteness marking worldwide.
By: Mohsen Mahdavi Mazdeh
Abstract: The metrical requirements of Persian poetry are highly restrictive. Traditionally, the rigidity of the metrical system was compensated for by a high degree of flexibility in the poetic language in terms of lexicon, phonology, and morpho-syntax. Using statistical data from different periods of Persian poetry, this paper argues that the degree of flexibility of the language used in metrical Persian poetry has been in constant decrease, moving towards what may potentially be a language crisis for metrical Persian poetry. This study traces the linguistic and meta-linguistic origins of the initial flexibility of the poetic language and its subsequent change, suggesting that some of the recent trends in Persian poetry may be viewed in part as reactions to this potential crisis.
By: Saloumeh Gholami
Abstract: The study of the language of religious minorities in Iran is particularly important for understanding the historical development and typology of Iranian languages. Historical and linguistic evidence substantiates the idea that Zoroastrians and Jews in cities in central and western Iran preserved their former vernacular language, whereas the majority of the population replaced it with Persian in the New Iranian period. This paper focuses on the language of Jews in Hamadan and has two main objectives: first, it examines numerous distinctive features of Judeo-Hamadani; second, it reviews and updates recent research to clarify the language origins, using data from new materials recorded during fieldwork in Hamadan from October 2018 to August 2019, and in Yazd in 2017.
By: Esfandiar Taheri
Abstract: Farvi, also known as Farrokhi, is an Iranian language spoken in the village of Farvi in Khur district of Kavir desert in central Iran. It shares features with other languages in Kavir region such as Khuri, Irāji and Garmayi. This paper describes synchronic and historical phonology and the grammar of Farvi based on data collected in Farvi village during April 2019. The study of historical phonology and morphological evidence show that though basically Northwestern, Farvi shares some features with Southwestern Iranian languages so that, like Kurdish and Balochi, it is separated from the other Northwestern Iranian languages. In later changes, Farvi shows some areal features that put it alongside Southeastern languages such as Northern Bashgardi and Balochi.
By: Peyman Vahabzadeh
Abstract: The emergence and rapid but short-lived presence of Students for Freedom and Equality (SFE; in Persian: Daneshjuyan-e Azadikhah va Barabaritalab or DAB) across major Iranian campuses and their fateful 4 December 2007 protest rally on the campus of the University of Tehran speaks of the return of leftist student activism to Iranian campuses after almost two decades of absence or invisibility within the context of post-revolutionary Iran. SFE was an umbrella democratic organization: its activists came from a plurality of social and political backgrounds and adhered to diverse leftist ideas. But in the context of pro-Reform Movement student activism in Iranian post-secondary institutions in the late 1990s and in 2000s, for a short time the SFE tried to hegemonize student activism and challenge the various pro-government tendencies in university campuses. Before state repression forced the SFE out of operation in 2007, Students for Freedom and Equality brought to campuses candid discussions of social justice issues, critique of Iran’s neoliberal economic policies, and challenges to censorship and lack of freedom.
Taqi Erāni, Bizhan Jazani, and a Marxian Framework for the Critique of Religion in Twentieth Century Iranian Political Thought
By: Siavash Saffari
Abstract: This article examines the development of a Marxian frame for the critique of religion in twentieth century Iranian political thought by Taqi Erāni and Bizhan Jazani. It argues that, following Marx, Erāni and Jazani understand religion to be a superstructural relic from an earlier stage of human development which will gradually and inevitably withdraw from collective human life as a consequence of the material dialectics of history. It further shows that Erāni and Jazani consider religion to be instrumental in sustaining relations of oppression, and they view with skepticism attempts to reform religion or to use religious faith as an instrument for mass mobilization in revolutionary struggles.
From Enemies to Friends with No Benefits: The Failed Attempt at an Ottoman–Iranian Alliance in the Aftermath of the 1908 Revolution
By: Serpil Atamaz
Abstract: This paper examines the historical developments and the debates revolving around the formation of an Ottoman–Iranian alliance in the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the 1908 Revolution. It argues that although neither the idea of an alliance between the two states nor the attempt to establish it was new, the way it was discussed, justified, and promoted in this period was different. The previous attempts by the Ottomans were led by the state as part of a broader pan-Islamist project (ittihad-ı İslam) that adopted a heavily religious tone. On the other hand, the main proponents of the alliance during the constitutional period were mostly transnational/international figures and religious scholars, who framed the issue within the context of Ottoman–Iranian relations, focusing on immediate pragmatic, strategic, and ideological concerns, such as protecting the sovereignty and security of the two countries against European imperialism through constitutionalism. Rather than focusing on reconciling the disputes between the Sunnis and Shi’is, and presenting this alliance as the first step towards the formation of a broader Islamic union as Abdülhamid II did in the nineteenth century, these people emphasized brotherhood and solidarity between the two constitutional governments, and tried to establish a strategic partnership based on shared borders, experiences, ideals, and enemies.
By: Marie Ladier-Fouladi
Abstract: After dropping rapidly and steadily over two decades, fertility in Iran stabilized between 2001 and 2011 at around 1.9 to 2 children per woman, before starting to rise slightly between 2012 and 2016, then falling fairly quickly. This coincided with the implementation of the Islamic Republic’s new population policy, with its aggressive and coercive measures, one of whose goals was to reverse the downwards trend in fertility. Given changes in proximate and remote determinants of fertility in Iran, and the decline in fertility since 2016, it is assumed that this new population policy triggered a reduction in intervals between births between 2012 and 2015, leading to a slight rise in the fertility of already married couples. The other latent objective of the Islamic Republic’s new population policy is to drive Iran’s population up to 150 million inhabitants in the near future. This is utopian given Iran’s demographic dynamics, but it conceals the political and ideological goal of asserting Iran’s demographic and geopolitical significance within the region, by drawing on a novel immigration policy to make up for its low fertility.
By: Willem Floor
Abstract: Until the twentieth century there was little change in the diet of Iranians. Bread was the major staple, accompanied by vegetables, fruits, yoghurt, and nuts. Meat and rice were a luxury food for most consumers. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries new food items were adopted by Persian consumers. After 1970, the modern Iranian diet—large amounts of white rice, meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and sweet/deserts, with few vegetables, herbs, nuts or fruits—has grown increasingly similar to the US diet, with the same health problems.
By: Mikhail Pelevin
Abstract: The article overviews the earliest Pashto texts, mostly poetic, in which the incipient forms of literary criticism can be traced as authorial self-reflections related in Persian classics to the self-praise genre (fakhriyya) and explanations of reasons for composing works (sabab-i taʾlīf). Under close examination are the seventeenth century verses of the poets affiliated with the Roshānī religious community and the writings of Khushḥāl Khān Khaṫak (d. 1689). Analyzed texts prove that through the rudimentary discourse on a variety of literary criticism topics, Pashtun authors of early modern times declared and justified the presence of emerging literature in Pashto within the Persophone cultural space of Mughal India, articulating simultaneously their commitment to the proliferation of literacy and Islamic book culture among their countrymen.
Israel Studies (Volume 26, Issue 3)
By: Jeffrey Auerbach
Abstract: The article argues that most of the contentious issues which flared up during Britain’s Mandate for Palestine, including Jewish immigration, ineffective policing, inadequate funding, ethno-religious violence, conflicting sympathies among British officials, and Arab displeasure over the Balfour Declaration, were already visible to Herbert Samuel, Winston Churchill and other British officials in the eighteen months before the Mandate officially began, and that the seeds of Britain’s administrative failure in Palestine had already taken root.
By: Gideon Biger
Abstract: The idea of the “two-state solution” has been on the political agenda of Eretz-Israel/Palestine for the past 40 years. The idea was first discussed during the British Mandate period, especially from the 1930s onward. Jews, Arabs, the British and eventually the UN, all considered establishing two states, Jewish and Arab, side by side in Palestine. The article deals with the areal dimension of the proposals, which were based on the dispersion of existing Jewish and Arab settlements and the allotment of territory for future Jewish immigration to the Jewish state.
By: Aviva Halamish
Abstract: During the Mandate period, the struggle for Palestine was essentially a demographic race between the Jewish minority and the Arab majority, with the Mandate authorities determining the rules of the game. While the proportion of Arabs to Jews at the end of WWI was 11:1, by the eve of WWII, it was approximately two-thirds Arabs to one-third Jews, and remained as such until the outbreak of the 1948 War, with 600,000 Jews in the country and twice as many Arabs. The primary source of growth in the Jewish population was immigration whereas the rate of growth among the Arabs was due almost exclusively to natural population increase. The article surveys and analyzes the role of demography in shaping the policy and practice of the three sides of the Palestine triangle from the formulation of the Balfour declaration in 1917 to the 1947 United Nations’ partition resolution. The main contention is, that demographic calculations and estimations were behind the positions on the three main issues around which the conflict in Mandatory Palestine revolved: immigration, the establishment of institutions of representative self-government and the acquisition of land by Jews.
By: Boaz Shnoor, Eyal Katvan
Abstract: Honor, freedom of expression, and judicial independence are core values in modern societies. The latter two are associated with democracy and liberalism, while the roots of honor lie in the need for recognition. The British in Mandate era Palestine came from a democratic tradition, but it is unclear whether, and to what degree they intended the locals to enjoy these values. The article analyzes a series of defamation cases which shed light on the way the British Mandate courts balanced these concepts when plaintiffs sued after being accused of loyalty to the British. Such cases were unique in requiring judges to exert independence in their balancing of the plaintiff’s honor, the defendant’s freedom of expression, and the courts’ willingness to accept loyalty to the Crown as negative and offensive. This was a three-dimensional test case of British attitudes towards the three values. We show that at least some of British judges in the lower courts perceived themselves as independent and were willing to set aside the honor of the British government in order to allow the local inhabitants to defend their own honor. This adds to our understanding of the roots of judicial-independence and honor in (pre)-State Israel.
By: Lilach Barak
Abstract: The article explores the leading role played by the Anglo-Jewish “Economic Board for Palestine” in the economic reconstruction of Palestine during the first decade of the British Mandate. By presenting its collaborative efforts with four financial actors—the Zionist Organization, the government, individual organizations and private entrepreneurs, the article will shed a new light on the delicate relationship between Zionist and non-Zionist, private and national capital, and the formation of a powerful prototype of the Jewish Agency.
By: Or Honig, Joshua T. Arsenault
Abstract: The article examines the enduring impact and far-reaching legacy of the British Mandate for Palestine on the State of Israel, especially as compared to other former British mandates or colonies. My discussion uses two complementary theoretical frameworks: first, the top-down framework which holds that the adoption of British-style institutions is primarily the outcome of the competition between the anglophile, British-leaning elite and the Soviet-leaning socialist elite during the mandate and early statehood periods; and second, the bottom-up framework which holds that the adoption of British institutions was primarily a reflection of necessity rather than admiration or ideological preference. The inherited British system was the “default” option because it was what Zionist Jews knew best and because it was already up and running. The State of Israel retained it therefore, but only until it either invented new systems or borrowed them from abroad.
By: Viola Alianov-rautenberg
Abstract: The article focuses on German Jewish immigrants and their memories of encounters with the British in Mandatory Palestine during the 1930s and 1940s, as recorded in oral history interviews with them. Their affinity and perceived cultural similarity with the British is contextualized here using contemporary sources like newspaper articles, administrative and ego documents. The article offers new perspectives on the interaction between the British and the Jews of the era, internal conflicts within the Yishuv, and the self-perception of Central European immigrants.
By: nbal Ben-Asher Gitler, Bar Leshem
Abstract: The far-reaching plans for cultural institutions envisioned by the British during the Palestine Mandate included three museums: the renowned Palestine Archeological Museum (better known as the Rockefeller Museum) in Jerusalem, the most important British cultural institution in the country, and two little-known museums, the “Northern District Museum,” a space for exhibitions at the ancient Acre arsenal, and the Palestine Folk Museum, at the Jerusalem Citadel. The article explores the role of these projects, whether completed or not, in the museum culture created by the British and the cultural politics and curatorial practices involved in the planning of these museums. We demonstrate that the museums were intended to provide a disciplinary and scientific basis for an unbiased study of the histories, peoples, and customs of the region. This, in turn, contributed to the British construction of their own image as peaceful mediators in a conflicted land.
By: Rebekka Grossmann
Abstract: Photography and its production, dissemination and reception is a contested terrain in the scholarship of arts during the Mandate Era. Instead of juxtaposing different “national” viewpoints, the article adopts the perspective of an ostensible outsider, the American Colony photographer, Eric Matson. Matson’s photographic angle on the realities of the Mandate captured local and global imaginations, and his imperial gaze has much to teach about local political dynamics in an increasingly sectarian space. The article explores his relationship with local inhabitants and international news agents, and the ways in which his status as a creator and agent of images influenced his photographic perspectives. It suggests that despite Matson’s close access to the transformations and actors in his surroundings, his ability to engage with them declined over the years. Ultimately his loyalties would be with the international audiences who shaped his decision to perpetuate imperial views. Matson’s photography, in its internationalist aspirations and imperial character, illuminates the relationship between the networks of global news communication and the imperial infrastructure that shaped them. His story, thus, reveals an unacknowledged vantage point on the tensions between local national movements and global influences in the Middle East. Finally, the article probes the global historical nature of local photographic production and its importance in scholarship on the Mandate Period.
By: Ofira Gruweis-kovalsky
Abstract: The map of Palestine appended to the British Mandate document was used for many years as the emblem of the Revisionist movement and its political successors even after the establishment of the state. It became the most recognizable of all Revisionist symbols. But why would the Revisionists who fought bitterly against British rule and viewed themselves as those who helped precipitate its end, sanctify a map drawn up for the purposes of the Mandate? Why would they embrace a map with borders drawn by France and Britain to accommodate their own vested interests, entirely disconnected from history, geography, or demography, let alone Zionist aspirations? The unembellished Mandate map first appeared as a Revisionist symbol on the masthead of Hamashkif, the organ of the Revisionist movement (published from late 1938 to 1949). Its use as the logo of a newspaper under the editorship of Revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky attests to a shift in Revisionist ideology: The masthead of Hayarden, the daily that preceded Hamashkif, bore a different map. After its appearance in Hamashkif, the Mandate map was also incorporated as the emblem of the Etzel underground movement, superimposed with a hand holding a rifle. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the unembellished map became the emblem of the Herut movement and remained so throughout the movement’s existence as a political entity (until 1988). The conventional view that this map symbolizes sovereignty over the historic Land of Israel on both sides of the Jordan River in keeping with Jabotinsky’s famous poem “The East Bank of the Jordan,” is not borne out by the facts and even conflicts with what the author of the poem is trying to say, as we shall explain below. The article explores the attitude of the Revisionist movement and its organizations to British rule with a focus on differences of opinion within the movement and how these led to the adoption and “canonization” of iconic maps.
Politics, Nationalism and Economics: The Postage Stamps of the British Mandate in Palestine, 1920–1945
By: Yehiel Limor, Ido Zelkovitz
Abstract: The years of the British Mandate in Palestine/Eretz Yisrael were a time of struggle between two competing movements, Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism, both of which dreamed of sovereignty over every part of the country. The article considers a third contested field, namely, the design, content and language of the postage stamps issued by Mandate authorities in the service of all inhabitants of Palestine. Stamps were viewed by the British, the Jewish leadership of the Yishuv and the leaders of the Arab-Palestinian population alike as a public opinion battleground in miniature, and a means of shaping the precarious future of the land. Stamps were powerfully symbolic devices, often illustrating sacred sites (like the Dome of the Rock or Rachel’s Tomb), with captions in the corresponding languages (English, Arab or Hebrew), and relative script size.
Journal of Arabic Literature (Volume 52, Issue 3-4)
By: Jennifer Tobkin
Abstract: The ghazal chapters of Muḥammad b. Dāwūd al-Iṣbahānī’s poetry anthology Kitāb al-Zahrah include 109 brief poems attributed to baʿḍ ahl hādhā al-ʿaṣr (a Man of Our Times). Ibn Dāwūd has conventionally been assumed to be the author of these poems. The “Man of Our Times” poems stand out among ‘Abbāsid ghazal because of their focus on justice, their appeals to reason, and their depiction of brotherly friendship (ikhā’) imbued with passionate love (hawā). Moreover, their repurposing of motifs from the poetic canon, such as the lover’s desert wanderings and nature’s lamentation in sympathy with him, adds to their tone of erudition. This gives the impression that the relationship they describe is an intense friendship between educated men of similar age. As with other early ʿAbbāsid bodies of ghazal, the poems can be categorized according to rhetorical function. For the “Man of Our Times” poems, these subcategories are 1) personal messages, 2) aphorisms, 3) petitions for justice, 4) alienation narratives, and 5) urban narratives.
By: Jonathan Lawrence
Abstract: The relationship between poetry and the poet’s life is complex, and reading a poem for biographical material can become a problematic exercise that constrains a poem’s interpretative possibilities. When writing about ʿUmar ibn Abī Rabīʿah (d. 93AH/712AD or 103/721), biographers and historians have shown a marked ambivalence in this regard. In early anecdotal narratives about his life and romantic adventures, events appear to derive their source material from episodes found in his poetry, whereas in later biographies of the poet, the poems tend to be understood as depicting emotional and symbolic truths, even if the events described did not actually happen. In either method of writing about ʿUmar’s life, the biographer finds the poet’s life story and persona to be filled with contradictions that are difficult to resolve. The embedding of poetry into anecdotes that narrate the poet’s life (in the form of events or emotional truths) resembles the tafsīr of the Qur’an through the Prophetic sīrah, in which Qur’anic verses are explained through the cementing of the text’s open-ended hermeneutic possibilities into fixed events and contexts. This article examines this relationship as a textual practice evolving through different biographies of the poet, and argues that the relationship points to a way of reading that presupposes a measure of extra-textual reality in the text, even where such a presupposition constructs an impossible biographical narrative replete with contradictions.
By: Ada Barbaro
Abstract: In an epoch of revival of the historical novel, Arabic literature tries to provide its own response to the construction of al-tārīkh al-badīl, namely “alternative history” or, also, allohistory which, as a literary genre, was originally a branch of science fiction. By proposing the idea of a counter-narration, the search for historical alternatives becomes a matter of great importance and responsibility. What happens if the writer tries to construct an alternative point of view, a counter-narration in which “History” is transformed into an almost fictional story? Far from an act of betrayal, this can be interpreted as a restoration of iltizām whenever the narrative potential, or the “if” contained within the narrative, comes true. This article aims to present works where the authors wonder: “What would have happened if…?” This question opens space for literary alternatives to mainstream or official historical narratives.
By: Ami Ayalon
Abstract: Children made up a substantial segment of the literate public that emerged during the Arab nahḍah period. Of these, an apparent minority applied skills they acquired in school to reading for pleasure or satisfying juvenile curiosity. This study explores the novel practice of Arab youth leisure-time reading as reported in retrospective memories and autobiographies. It reveals that during the nahḍah’s early decades, the inventory of Arabic readings fit for children was strikingly limited—unlike the multitude of books that were available to adults—a reality that forced curious boys and girls from different classes to make do with adult books for their after-school reading. This article examines cultural factors for that scarcity (primarily the status of children in society) and economic ones (e.g., publishers’ business concerns) and considers its implications. Probing a seemingly marginal section of a wider scene, it sheds light on hitherto neglected facets of the Arab transition from widespread illiteracy to extensive literacy at this point in history.
Repurposing Romantic Drama in Late-Nineteenth-Century Egypt: Najīb al-Ḥaddād’s Arabizations of Victor Hugo
By: Edward Ziter
Abstract: At the end of the nineteenth century, Najīb al-Ḥaddād adapted two dramas by Victor Hugo for The Egyptian Patriotic Troupe. Al-Ḥaddād rewrote Hugo’s Hernani as Ḥamdān, transferring the story from the Spanish court of 1519 to Andalucía under ‘Abd al-Raḥmān II. Les Burgraves became Tha’rāt al-‘arab (Revenge of the Arabs), and transformed from a play about Barbarossa and the Holy Roman Empire into a play about a pre-Islamic Lakhmid king’s struggle to restore unified Arab rule in the Arabian peninsula. I argue that Al-Ḥaddād’s adaptations anachronistically placed modern ideas in the Arab past—characterizing shūrā as the election of leaders, using sha‘b to mean a sovereign people, and calling for Arab cultural unity and revival. Al-Ḥaddād’s adaptations transformed the nationalism of Hugo’s drama into calls for Arab solidarity. In producing these plays, The Egyptian Patriotic Troupe embodied an Arab past overlaid with modern communal identities.
Journal of Contemporary History (Volume 56, Issue 4)
By: Steven Aschheim
Abstract: This article explores George Mosse’s complex attitude to both nationalism in general and particularly to Zionism and Israel. It examines how Mosse was explicitly caught between a critical analysis of nationalism, and an intellectual commitment to liberalism and Bildung, on the one hand, and on the other, an existential attraction to the blandishments and emotional power of nationalism and, given his Jewish identity, especially Zionism.
Journal of Islamic Studies (Volume 32, Issue 3)
By: Şeyma Afacan
Abstract: The phenomenon of ‘materialism’ in the late Ottoman Empire has long been explained as the vehicle of fully-fledged modernization (i.e., Westernization and secularization) in allegedly essential opposition to tradition and religion. Amid growing intellectual interest in aspects of the individual such as mind, soul, brain, and emotions in the late Ottoman period, this paper shifts the explanatory focus from religious vs. nationalist ideologies to the discourse of ‘productivity’. It argues that before the discourse of national homogenization came to dominate intellectual writings in the late Ottoman Empire, a new language about the regulation of body and emotion was formulated with the aim of increasing labour productivity and rational conduct. The debate between materialism and spiritualism was embedded in this new language. The first section of the paper reviews relevant secondary literature to question what we know about the phenomenon of Ottoman materialism. The second moves on to the over-abundance of machine metaphors in materialist writings with particular focus on Abdullah Cevdet’s books on brain physiology, and in light of the spread of mechanistic views of human nature in the late nineteenth century. The final section presents Baha Tevfik’s problematization of sensibility (hassasiyet) as an obstacle to greater social harmony based on rational conduct as a case study of the regulation of emotion in the early 1910s, when interest in scientific and philosophical literature on human nature and the soul reached its zenith. This paper shows the ways in which Ottoman materialism became an important tool to imagine the individual as a unit of production, whose soul was rendered idle and whose emotions were subjected to regulation.
Journal of Near Eastern Studies (Volume 80, Issue 2)
Send Them to Me by This Little One: Child Letter-carriers in Coptic Texts from Late Antique and Early Islamic Egypt
By: Benjamin Hinson
Abstract: Not available
By: Shawn Zelig Aster
Abstract: Not available
“Syrians call you Astarte … Lycian peoples call you Leto”: Ethnic Relations and Circulating Legends in the Villages of Egypt
By: Philip A. Harland
Abstract: Not available
Journal of Qur’anic Studies (Volume 23, Issue 3)
A Zaydī Qur’an Commentary from Yemen: An Introduction to Tajrīd al-Kashshāf maʿa ziyādat nukat liṭāf
By: Scott C. Lucas
Abstract: This article provides an introduction to Tajr?d al-Kashsh?f, a Qur?an commentary written by the Yemeni Zayd? scholar Ibn Ab??l-Q?sim (d. 837/1433?1434) that remains unpublished. Despite his reputation as a partisan Zayd?, Ibn Ab??l-Q?sim?s Qur?an commentary draws exclusively upon Sunni tafs?r works, especially al-Zamakhshar??s al-Kashsh?f, al-W??id??s al-Was??, and Ibn al-Jawz??s Z?d al-mas?r. Through a careful analysis of his commentary on the S?rat al-Najm (Q. 53) and Q. 5:55, this article illuminates Ibn Ab??l-Q?sim?s sources and exegetical techniques. It contains a critical edition of Ibn Ab??l-Q?sim?s commentary on S?rat al-Najm and highlights the intimate relationship between Zayd? and Sunni Qur?anic exegesis.
Journal of the American Oriental Society (Volume 141, Issue 4)
By: Avigail Noy
Abstract: This article argues that early Arabic philologists developed a robust, if implicit, theory of metaphorical language, one that was not dictated by theological concerns, and one that took shape outside the technical term majāz (commonly: figurative speech). The starting point of the article is the oft-cited claim found in Islamic legal theory, according to which authority over matters of majāz rested in the hands of the lexicographers (or philologists more broadly, ahl al-lugha). For Ibn Taymiyya, this was a lie meant to justify the acceptance of metaphor in the Quran. But evidence from lexicographical, lexicological, and grammatical works supports the jurists’ general claim. There was a difference, however, between the lexemes that the jurists identified as majāz and the metaphorical expressions that the lexicographers pointed out, in that the former were not always codified in the dictionaries and thus more aligned with “live” or creative metaphors. Methodologically, the article proposes an updated model for the study of medieval Arabic technical terms, away from the term itself (majāz) and toward the concept behind it (metaphorical lexical extension).
The Lost Oral Genesis of Classical Islamic Law: The Case of an Eleventh-Century Disputation (munāẓara) on Broken Oaths
By: Youcef Soufi
Abstract: This article places the textual production of classical Islamic law in its proper historical context. It does so by examining a transcript of an eleventh-century oral debate, or disputation (munāẓara), between the Shafiʿi and Hanafi jurists Abū al-Ṭayyib al-Ṭabarī (d. 450/1058) and Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ṭāliqānī (fl. fifth/eleventh century) on the subject of the pre-emptive expiation for broken oaths (taqdīm al-kaffāra ʿalā al-ḥinth). The comparison between the disputation transcript and al-Ṭabarī’s lengthy legal manual al-Taʿlīqa al-kubrā reveals that the complexity and argumentative detail of disputations far exceeded jurists’ writings. Even the lengthiest legal manuals of the time are shown to be highly summarized accounts of juristic thought. The article explains how these summaries were essential to the proper training of jurists in the age of ijtihād: jurists were expected to learn these summaries before exploring the law in greater depth through disputations. These disputations were rarely recorded in writing, and few survive. The disparity between the oral and written legal discourse of jurists leads to a disquieting conclusion: much of the thought that produced classical legal opinions is lost to us today. We are therefore left with access to an attenuated version of classical law.
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Volume 64, Issue 5-6)
By: Fahad Ahmad Bishara
Abstract: This article explores the contours of debt and labor in the early twentieth-century Persian Gulf pearl dive. It examines the barwa, a declaration exchanged by nakhodas (dhow captains) about the amounts that divers owed and the terms by which they might be hired out. By looking both through and at the barwa, we find a window into the Indian Ocean maritime bazaar, and into the artifacts through which mobile and itinerant laborers were bound to the dhow and its captain. Maritime actors used these papers to navigate the boundary between person and property, and between free and unfree, all within a changing commercial and legal world.
By: Nobuaki Kondo
Abstract: This article examines various aspects of conditional sales (bayʿ-i sharṭ) and other types of loans in Qajar Iran (1796-1925). Islamic law prohibited usury, but Shiʿi jurists found a way to legalize money lending at interest. In this paper, I explore how these transactions occurred in practice and what features they had. To this end, I consider three groups of bayʿ-i sharṭ deeds from the National Archives of Iran, discussing how each case proceeded and how differences between cases reveal the ways in which this type of transaction functioned. While similar types of transactions were allowed in other regions and schools of law, the details of Shiʿi legal devices were distinctive.
By: Christoph U. Werner
Abstract: In the second half of the nineteenth century, practitioners of law in Iran were looking for more flexibility in contractual forms, especially those used to conclude routine transactions of properties and services. They increasingly made use of a type of contract named muṣālaḥa-nāma, derived from the legal concept of ṣulḥ and defined primarily as a means to arrange the amicable settlement of disputes. The present contribution attempts to categorise the kind of transactions for which this universal contractual type could be employed and raises the question what advantages such a “new” contractual form might have entailed.
Middle Eastern Literatures (Volume 24, Issue 2)
By: Joseph R. Farag
Abstract: How the land of Palestine is imagined goes to the heart of Palestinian identity, making the process a significant and fraught endeavor. However, while the centrality of land to the imagined geography of Palestine has long been acknowledged, less attention has been paid to Palestine’s sea. This paper therefore explores how the canonical Palestinian authors, Ghassan Kanafani and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra represent – or omit – the sea in their works. I argue that, as members of the Nakba generation, for these two authors the sea signifies a one-way passage into exile, thus casting Palestine’s shores and sea as abject spaces, severed from the imagined geography of homeland, producing what I term “terracentric” discourses of Palestinian homeland. The paper’s conclusion turns its attention to contemporary Palestinian cultural production to address the ways subsequent generations of Palestinians have begun to reconceptualize the relationship between the land and sea of Palestine.
By: Daniel Behar
Abstract: This article highlights the poetics of Syrian poet Muḥammad al-Māghūt ̣(1934-2006) as forging a poetic identity enacted as a series of performative contradictions between the empirical and the poetic selves in what amounts to a discourse of “rhetorical sincerity.” This poetic discourse employs a variety of devices to communicate that the irreducibility of Arab life can be contained neither in the polished spheres of art nor in political speech-making. By situating personas close to commonalities of human struggles without subtracting critical distance, al-Māghūṭ negotiates a modernistic consciousness with values of ṣidq (sincerity) and aṣāla (authenticity). Part one develops the concept of poetic sincerity and delineates al-Māghūt’̣s cultural battles. Part two examines al-Māghūt’̣s rhythmic irregularities in “al-Qatl” (The Killing) as a key component in accomplishing the non-literary task of his ṣidq. This interpretation will hopefully elucidate the rationale behind al-Māghūt’̣s import for later poetic generations.
By: Daniel Amir
Abstract: The Iranian-Jewish newspaper Ha-Hayyim represented a high point of Jewish engagement with the wider public sphere in the late Qajar period. Its modernizing agenda saw it and its editor Shemuel Hayyim become subjects of controversy as Jews debated their political future in Iran. This article examines four poems featured in Ha-Hayyim as a means of illuminating a period of Jewish literary creativity mostly neglected by scholarship. The paper explores the poems as literary and historical texts and outlines the writers’ employment of modern literary techniques, comparing them with contemporary Iranian writing in Persian and Hebrew. Jewish literary engagement with Persian literature represents an important linguistic and political self-assertion in a dynamic cultural environment. The article pursues the poems’ overlapping treatment of Zionism and constitutionalism, examining how the two ideologies informed each other, and argues for a literary optic to the well-documented antagonism between Hayyim and his political rivals.
By: Jonas Elbousty
Abstract: The social, economic, ecological, political, and religious hardships have forced many Syrian intellectuals to search for a safe haven. These struggles, both in their country of origin and host lands, have inspired many poets to explore topics documenting their trauma and loss. The majority of cultural production that has been produced since 2011 discusses themes, such as alienation, displacement, traumatic experience, liminality, and constructed subjectivities. Laila’s poetry focuses on the refugee experience, but rather than looking back at the losses of a former home his work dwells on the losses of the present; the dehumanizing experiences and the vilification refugees face in Europe where they have sought safe haven. This essay, along with the poems, shows how Laila’s poetry is restless, preoccupied with trauma, continuous longing for the past, and the unworkability of language.
Near Eastern Archaeology (Volume 84, Issue 3)
By: Nasser Said Al-Jahwari, Khaled Ahmed Douglas
Abstract: More than fifty years of archaeological investigations in the Oman Peninsula have yielded only four Early Bronze Age (Umm an-Nar period, 2500–2000 BCE) incense burners: three from the coastal settlement at Ras al-Jinz-2 and one from the hinterland settlement of Dahwa in the northern al-Batinah plain. The latter was found by the authors and is the oldest incense burner to be found so far in the Oman Peninsula, with C14 analysis and pottery confirming that it dates to 2450–2200 BCE.
By: Elizabet Stone, Adelheid Otto, Dominique Charpin, Berthold Einwag, Paul Zimansky
Abstract: Two substantial houses dating to the early second millennium BCE have recently been unearthed at separate, previously unexplored locations in Ur. Their respective owners occupied important positions of power in different spheres. One flourished ca 1840 BCE and was the chief administrator of the second most important temple in Ur. His house lay near the southern city wall, well removed from the institution with which he was associated. The second was a general named Abisum, who resided near the center of the city. Abisum was closely tied to the monarchy in Babylon and disappeared when the city was abandoned in 1739 BCE, not long after a rebellion had been put down. Small cuneiform archives were left behind in both of these households, demonstrating that literacy was an important mechanism by which they exercised power. The new excavations indicate that much remains to be explored in the urban landscape of Ur.
By: Danielle Candelora
Abstract: The seemingly macabre practice of severing the hands of defeated enemies on the battlefield was a hallmark of the Egyptian New Kingdom military. Soldiers would present these grisly trophies to the king as a record of their kills and would be rewarded proportionally—often with the “gold of valor.” Yet this tradition appears fully-realized during the wars between the Thebans, specifically Ahmose, and the Hyksos, with few clues as to its origins. The discovery of several pits of severed human hands at the Hyksos capital Avaris (modern Tell el-Dab‘a) has been described as the only archaeological evidence of this practice and may shed light on its enigmatic roots—not as military procedure, but rather as a foreign kingly act of retribution or criminal punishment. (Please note: This article contains images of human skeletal remains.)
By: Ian Stern
Abstract: A molded bronze ornament of a mouse was discovered within one of the thousands of subterranean chambers in the Hellenistic–period city of Maresha. Excavations in this city, located in the Judean lowlands, have revealed a material culture that reflects a multicultural population with a high standard of living and a keen sense of aesthetics. The artifact under discussion was found within the excavated debris of Subterranean Complex 97. The function of this small statuette may have been simply ornamental, but cultic associations with mice in the Hellenistic world abound. This paper will explore archaeological parallels as well as contemporary literary sources in order to understand better the potential functions of this discovery.
By: Robert J. Littman, Jay Silverstein, Dora Goldsmith, Sean Coughlin, Hamedy Mashaly
Abstract: A combination of Classics, Egyptology, and experimental archaeology were utilized to recreate the (in)famous perfume used by Queen Cleopatra VII. Especially important was the use of classical sources and paleobotany to determine the identity of the Egyptian sacred oils such as camphor and balanos. Excavations at the site of Tell Timai revealed a perfumery that contributed to our ability to recreate the process of perfume manufacture. This ancient “Mendesian” perfume has since been recreated in the lab, exhibited at the Smithsonian, and worn again for the first time in millennia.
Corals in the Desert: Recent Discoveries of Red Sea Corals in Byzantine and Early Islamic Sites in the Negev Desert
By: Guy Bar-Oz, Yotam Tepper, Roee Shafir
Abstract: Corals comprised valuable resources throughout human history and were used as remedies for multiple diseases and as amulets. Despite their traditional, historical uses, corals are not frequently encountered in the archaeological record. Recent archaeological excavations in the Negev Desert have yielded an unprecedented number of Red Sea coral remains, found in the landfills of Byzantine and Early Islamic sites located more than 200 km from the Red Sea. The bulk of the assemblage comprises primarily the tree-like branching Stylophora pistillata. Other species found include the columnar coral Favites abdita. Both are among the most common shallow water corals in the Red Sea. Their remains attest to the importance of corals for Negev society, as well as to the cultural trajectory of goods and their trade and commerce that facilitated the supply of Red Sea products to distant inland locations.