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Cities of Medieval Iran brings together studies in urban geography, archaeology, and history of medieval Iranian cities, spanning the Islamic period until ca. 1500, but also the pre-Islamic situation. The cities and their inhabitants take centre stage, they are not just the places where something else happened. Urban actors are given priority over external factors. The contributions take a long-term perspective and thus take the interaction between urban centres and their hinterland into account. Many contributions come from history or archaeology, but new disciplines are also methodologically integrated into the study of medieval cities, such as the arts of the book, lexicography, geomorphology, and digital instruments.

Contributors include Denise Aigle, Mehrdad Amanat, Jean Aubin, Richard W. Bulliet, Jamsheed K. Choksy, David Durand-Guédy, Etienne de La Vaissière, Majid Montazer Mahdi, Roy P. Mottahedeh, Jürgen Paul, Rocco Rante, Sarah Savant, Ali Shojai Esfahani, Donald Whitcomb and Daniel Zakrzewski.
Author: Ela Filippone

On the meaning of Ved. (dual) kukṣí, a denomination for pair body parts frequently equated to bodies of water in Vedic texts, different assumptions have been made by scholars. In particular, Stephanie Jamison suggested interpreting it as “the two cheeks”, Henk Bodewitz as “the two sides of the body”. The present paper supports Bodewitz’ claim that Ved. kukṣí- was used to refer to any of the sides of the abdomen. In fact, abdominal sides may be categorised as containers of liquids. This is also proved by the denominations for the abdominal side (as distinct from the thoracic side) recorded in some Iranian languages, which may be considered as part of the legacy of the ancient theory of humours and the microcosm-macrocosm theory.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

The paper presents a comparative analysis of the Pahlavi “Story of Jōišt ī Friyān”, comparing it with three other tales, which span several hundred years and belong to several cultural traditions. By isolating structural and content-related features from the narrative core of these tales and setting them into relation with each other, the present author attempts to answer the following questions. Are there meaningful parallels between these four tales, which would suggest literary borrowing? And, if there are, would it be possible to identify one of them as the primary source of the others? The study is intended to contribute to our understanding of the process of literary exchange between Zoroastrians and Muslims in early Mediaeval Iran.

In: Iran and the Caucasus
In: Iran and the Caucasus
Author: Richard Foltz

The Rekom Shrine located in the Tsey Valley of North Ossetia-Alania is one of the most important sites in the Ossetian popular religion, which in modern times is often referred to as the Uatsdin. The shrine is dedicated to Uastyrdzhi, an Ossetian cultic figure associated with the Christian St. George. Rekom is the site of a major festival held in mid-June, called Rekomy Bærægbon (Рекомы бæрæгбон), where certain aspects of the ritual may date back to Scythian times. These and similar ceremonies throughout North and South Ossetia are best understood as expressions of national identity and community solidarity.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

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 first part of a larger work that aims to reverse this perspective and emphasise 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, while this first work will analyses aspects connected to East Iran and the Khorāsān tradition.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

This explorative study uses descriptive process tracing to outline the evolution of Chechen terrorism from 1994-2017. Analysis begins with simple descriptive statistics that characterize data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) and identify those years in which significant changes occurred in the processes, environmental context, and overall security conditions in Chechnya. A detailed narrative is then given to contextualize the security scenario in Chechnya and to illustrate the transition from nationalist violence to religious-based terrorism.

In: Iran and the Caucasus

The Arabic historiographical tradition is considered to be one of the most important textual sources for the reconstruction of Sāsānian history. Historians such as al-Ṭabarī, al- Masʿūdī or al-Thaʿālibī explicitly claimed to have used older material of Persian origin. The basis of their accounts seem to have been translations, excerpts and adaptations of translations, which commonly are traced back to the Middle-Persian “Book of Kings”, the Khwadāynāmag. While it may be assumed a scientific consensus that there were in the late Sāsānian period books dealing with Iran’s history, the opaque character of this historical tradition has repeatedly given rise to scientific controversy over the question of whether there was one or several books bearing the title Khwadāynāmag, when the content was first written down, whether the tradition could be regarded as sound or not, which earlier sources finally became a part of the Khwadāynamag, etc. In the following, two inspiring recent contributions to the research on the Khwadāynāmag will be presented.

In: Iran and the Caucasus