Parthian site in Andika, Khuzestan discovered by Karamian Archaeological Team was informed on Friday November 27, 2015 of the discovery of a new Parthian site in Khuzestan in 2013 by the archaeological expedition of Dr. Gholamreza Karamian (Azad University, Tehran, Iran – Central Branch; University of Warsaw, Poland) and his graduate student Farzad Astaraki. Note that Dr. Karamian had also uncovered the Sassanian site of Ramavand in 2013.

The Parthian relief was discovered in the western part of Andika located in the northern section of Masjid Suleyman, Khuzestan Province in Iran. The Andika relief shows a Parthian man (most likely a warrior and/or Azat nobleman) leaning on his left hand and holding a branch of plan (see below).

1-Andika-Karamian and AstarakiThe Parthian relief at Andika discovered by Dr. Gholamreza Karamian and Farzad Astaraki. The specific location of this relief is in the northern village of Darvish Ahmad that is 50 kilometers from western Andika in Khuzestan Province. The GPS position of the site is: N 32 23 32/3 and E 49 30 21/5. The dimensions of the Andika relief are 2 meters (length) by 1.20 meters (width) (Courtesy of Dr. Gholamreza Karamian and Farzad Astaraki). 

As noted by Dr. Karamian to on November 27, 2015:

There are other Parthian sites in Khuzestan that are similar to the one we uncovered in Andika. The most similar motif is Block II in Tang e Sarvak, an archaeological site in eastern Khuzestan province,  located in the mountainous area, approximately 50 km north of Behbahan. The other Parthian site is located near Masjid Suleiman and was discovered by the Vanden Berghe team in 1965.”

2-Andika-Sketch-KaramianSketch by Dr. Gholareza Karamian of the Parthian relief at Andika (Courtesy of Dr. Gholamreza Karamian).

The full report for these findings will be published in academic journal format for publication in 2016.

Shapour Suren-Pahlav: General Surena- Hero of Carrhae 53 BCE

The article below is authored by Shapour Suren-Pahlav who first posted this in his CAIS website in December 1998. A number of the illustrations are from the original CAIS articles with a number of others added below for illustration purposes.


Eran Spahbodh Rustaham Suren-Pahlav was born sometime in the late 1st century BCE. The name under which he appears in the western classical sources was no more than his hereditary title, that of ‘Surena’, and he continued to be referred to using this appellation in Iranian records far into Sasanian times.

Plutarch describes General Surena as:

“. . [not] an ordinary person, but in wealth, family, and reputation, the second man in the kingdom, and in courage and prowess the first, and for bodily stature and beauty no man like him. Whenever he travelled privately, he had one thousand camels to carry his baggage, two hundred chariots for his concubines, one thousand completely armed men for life-guards, and a great many more light-armed; and he had at least ten thousand horsemen altogether, of his servants and retinue. The honour had long belonged to his family, that at the king’s coronation he put the crown upon his head, and when this very king Hyrodes had been exiled, he brought him in; it was he, also, that took the great city of Seleucia, was the first man that scaled the walls, and with his own hand beat off the defenders. And though at this time he was not above thirty years old, he had a great name for wisdom and sagacity, and, indeed, by these qualities chiefly, he overthrew Crassus”.

“. . Surena was the tallest and finest looking man himself, but the delicacy of his looks and effeminacy of his dress did not promise so much manhood as he really was master of; or his face was painted, and his hair parted after the fashion of the Medes . .”.

A Bronze statue discovered in Shami, in Bakhtiari mountains denoted to General Surena (Picture Source: CAIS website).

Surena’s victory at Carrhae against the Romans and his personal “feat of arms there was certainly the most celebrated of the whole Arsacid era” (Bivar), but it is not directly attributed to him in the Shahnameh, the Iranian national epic.

In this book, the record of the Arsacids seems to have been suppressed at its true chronological point – for example the story concerning the Arsacid warrior Gotarz / Goudarz was transferred to the later legendary period of Key-Kavous, and incorporated there.

Surena’s historical personality is, however, curiously parallel to the stories about – and attributes of – Rustam, the mightiest of the Shahnameh’s heroes (Bivar). The atmosphere of the episodes in which the latter features is also strongly reminiscent of the Arsacid period.

Surena’s name is therefore preserved indirectly amongst the throng of epic heroes whose deeds are recalled in the Kayanian (Kianian) section of the Shahnameh.

Background to the Battle of Carrhae

The Parthian empire was perpetually menaced by hostile armies both in the east and in the west and was already deeply injured by the encroachments of Pompey. However, its decentralized and feudal structure may help to explain why it never mounted a strong offensive after the days of Emperor Mithradates II. Instead, Iran tended to remain on the defensive. The wars between Iran and Rome therefore were initiated not by the Iranians – but by Rome itself. Rome considered itself obliged to claim the inheritance of Alexander of Macedonia and, from the time of Pompey, continually attempted the subjection of the former Hellenistic countries as far as the Euphrates River. As part of the attempt to extend Roman control further eastward, Marcus Licinius Crassus, the Roman triumvir, took the offensive against Iran in 54 BCE. Such then were the protagonists in the decisive battle that was about to develop.

Map displaying the Romano-Parthian borders and the location of the Battle of Carrhae (54 BC) (Picture Source: CAIS website).

Before the Roman march towards Parthia began, Crassus had been advised by a Roman ally, Artavasdes, king of Armenia, to lead his forces through the mountains of that country, to shelter from the Iranian cavalry. However, Crassus ignored this advice, being anxious to include in his army the substantial Roman garrisons posted during the previous season in the towns of Mesopotamia. Then, after crossing the Euphrates at Zeugma, he also rejected the plan of his legate Cassius, that he should follow the course of the river to Babylon. Instead Crassus followed the guidance of an Arab chief, whose name is given by Plutarch as Ariamnes. This seems improbable, and other sources name the guide as Abcar or Abgar, and identify him as the chief of the city of Edessa. This guide, suspected by historians of collusion with Surena, led the Romans away from the river into the desert, and towards the main Iranian force.

The Strength of the Two Armies

With regard to the size of the two armies, that of the Romans was reportedly greatly superior in numbers. According to the most reliable account, that of Plutarch, Crassus commanded “seven legions, [with] little less than four thousand horse, and as many light-armed soldiers”. A quarter of the latter were Gaulish troops lent by Julius Caesar. Other commentators have given somewhat higher total estimates. At the minimum estimate, the army of Crassus would have numbered thirty-six thousand men.

The Iranian forces under Surena consisted, according to Plutarch, of a thousand fully armored lancers, the cataphracts, who formed the bodyguard of the General. Nine thousand horse-archers formed the main body of the troops, and a baggage-train of a thousand camels was available to bring up extra stocks of arrows. The entire force was mounted, and therefore highly mobile under the desert conditions. However, in numerical terms, the Roman force seemed sufficient for the task in hand.

Events showed, nevertheless, that in two critical respects the Romans had underestimated the Iranian forces. The power of the horse-archers’ arrows to penetrate the legionnaires armour had not been appreciated, perhaps because the Roman commanders were unaware that the compound bow which the Iranians employed was a more powerful weapon than the lighter bows found at that time in Rome. Additionally, the Romans had anticipated that the Iranian cavalry would quickly exhaust their stock of arrows; but the camel train of General Surena made it possible for him to bring up plentiful stocks of arrows as the quivers of his men were emptied.

Additionally, the Romans were also ill-adapted to the open terrain of the battlefield. The vast distances of the Mesopotamian plain, and the heat (for the battle took place in June) put the Roman infantry at a disadvantage. Moreover, the Roman means of retaliation against their adversaries were ineffective, since the range of the Roman javelin was obviously limited, and the Gaulish horsemen relied on for a counter-attack were provided only with short javelins, as well as being lacking in adequate defensive armour.

Map displaying the deployment of Crassus’ forces towards Parthian forces at Carrhae (54 BC) (Picture Source: CAIS website).

With all these miscalculations, even the squares of Roman legionnaires could not hold their own against the Iranians.

The Battle

At first the Romans prepared to advance to the encounter in extended line. Then Crassus formed the legions into a square, and so advanced to the River Balissus (Balikh). Contrary to the opinion of his officers, he decided not to camp by the water, but hurried the troops across, and before long came in sight of the advance-guard of the Iranians. The strength of their main body was at first concealed. Then the thunder of the Parthian drums burst on the ears of the Romans. The mailed cavalry of Surena’s bodyguard uncovered their armour, and the sun glittered on their steel helmets.

“When they had sufficiently terrified the Romans with their noise, they threw off the covering of their armour, and shone like lightning in their breastplates and helmets of polished Margianian steel, and with their horses covered with brass and steel trappings . .”.

The first attack was a charge by the lancers of the bodyguard, led in person by the towering figure of General Surena. Then, seeing the steadiness of the Roman legionnaires, the Iranian horse-archers began their work. What followed was more like a massacre than a battle.

Parth-Savar1[Click to Enlarge] Reconstruction by Peter Wilcox and the late historical artist, Angus McBride of Parthian armored knights as they would have appeared in 54 BCE (Picture Source: Osprey Publishing).

The Romans had tried to offset their lack of cavalry by using light infantry mixed with their Gaulish horsemen. But such makeshift tactics were of little avail against the finest cavalry in the world. The legionnaires were soon hard pressed and all but surrounded, so that Crassus was reduced to ordering his son, Publius, who commanded one of the wings, to attempt a diversionary charge with his forces.

Publius led thirteen hundred horse, five hundred archers, and eight cohorts of the infantry, the latter totalling some four thousand men, into the attack. At first the Iranians retired in front of them, but after Publius’ men were separated from the main Roman force they were quickly surrounded, offering an all but helpless mark to the rain of arrows. The threat of a charge by the Cataphracts forced the Romans into close order, thereby reducing their chances of escape. Though the Gauls caught hold of the Iranian lances to pull down the riders, and ran under the horses of their enemies to stab them in the belly, these were no more than tactics of desperation. Soon the young Publius was disabled, and the remnant of his force retired to a mound to make their last stand. The young and naïve commander ordered his Armour-bearer to end his life, although five hundred of his soldiers survived to be taken as slaves.

Horse Arhers at Carrhae[Click to Enlarge] Parthian Horse archers engage the Roman legions of Marcus Lucinius Crassus at Carrhae in 53 BCE. Unlike the Achamenid-Greek wars where Achaemenid arrows were unable to penetrate Hellenic shields and armor, Parthian archery was now able to penetrate the armor and shields of their Roman opponents (Picture Source: Antony Karasulas & Angus McBride).

This agonizing diversion had temporarily relieved pressure on the main Roman force. But the magnitude of the disaster became clear when the Iranians rode back with Publius’ head on a spear. Thereafter the main Roman body had to defend themselves as best they could for the rest of the day under the constant hail of missiles. Only when it grew too dark to shoot did the Iranians draw off, leaving the Romans to pass a melancholy night, encumbered as they were with the many wounded, and anyway anticipating their final destruction on the following morning.

The Roman Retreat

By this time, Crassus himself was prostrate with despair. Octavius and Cassius, his lieutenants, resolved that the only hope was to escape under cover of darkness and seek shelter behind the walls of the city of Carrhae. Thus they slipped away silently from the camp in the darkness. Those of the wounded who could be moved obstructed the march, and the majority, who had to be abandoned, raised the alarm with their cries. Understandably, retreating in the dark, the Romans fell into disorder. A party of three hundred horsemen did reach the city at midnight, and warned Coponius, commander of the garrison there, that Crassus had fought a great battle with the Iranians. They then turned west to make their escape across the Euphrates. Another detachment of two thousand men under the Roman officer Varguntius lost their way in the dark, and were found by the Iranian forces in the morning, marooned on a hill. Of these, only twenty made their escape. At Carrhae, Coponius suspected a mishap, and called his men to arms. Then he marched out, and led Crassus and the main body of the Romans into the city.

Olivier as CrassusThe late exemplary actor Sir Laurence Olivier’s (1907-1989) portrayal of Marcus Lucinius Crassus (115-53 BCE) in the epic movie “Spartacus (1960)” (Picture Source: Murph Place). Crassus’ dreams of conquering Parthian Persia and emulating Alexander ended in disaster at Carrhae in 53 BCE. Several decades after its release of “Spartacus”, Hollywood has yet to produce a “Crassus sequel” epic of the Roman statesman’s failure in Persia.

There were no supplies in Carrhae for a long siege, nor hope of relief from the outside, since Crassus had concentrated all the forces in the Roman East in his army. The Roman commander therefore determined to break out of the city on the second night, and make his way to safety in the shelter of the Armenian hills. Once again, his guide, Andromachus, was a Parthian sympathizer, who was rewarded after the Roman debacle with the governorship of Carrhae. It is said that Andromachus misled the main Roman column in the dark, so that by dawn they were over a mile from the shelter of the hills. Octavius had a reliable guide and took refuge in the mountains. At daybreak, Crassus and his force had occupied a spur connected by a low ridge to the main mountain range. When they came under attack, Octavius and his men moved down from the heights to offer support. At this moment Surena rode forward to offer terms of peace and to spare the Roman’s lives. It is not clear whether Crassus accepted voluntarily, or under pressure from his men, but he and Octavius, with a small group of Romans, went down to meet the Iranians. The latter mounted Crassus upon a horse, to take him away for the signing of the treaty. Octavius, suspecting foul play, seized the bridle of the horse, and, when a scuffle broke out, drew his sword. In the melee that followed, all the Romans in the party were slain and their leaderless troops then either surrendered or scattered. Very few were successful in making good their escape. Of the entire force, twenty thousand are said to have been killed; while ten thousand were captured and deported to distant Margiana as slave labourers. Thus ended the disastrous Roman campaign of Carrhae. The Euphrates was firmly established as the boundary between the two Empires.

Despite the crushing defeat of the Romans, the Iranians made no attempt to follow up their victory or to invade the Roman Empire.  The Romans learned to introduce cavalry into their army, just as nearly a thousand years earlier the Assyrians had learned from the first Iranians arriving on the Plateau.

The Roman defeat won unquestioned recognition for Iran as a military power superior to Rome and the resurrection of Iran as a united nation.

The Death of General Surena

The success had excited the jealousy of Orodes II, the Parthian king, and soon after the battle of Carrhae General Surena was executed. Iran was thus deprived of an exceptional commander.


Plutrach, Crassus, translated by John Dryden.

A. D. H. Bivar, “The Political History of Iran Under the Arsacids” in Ehsan Yarshater (ed.) Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. III, Part I. CUP, 1983.

G. G. Cameron, History of Early Iran 1936, repr. 1969.

G. M. Cohen, The Seleucid Colonies (Historia Einzelschriften 30). Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1978.

V. S. Curtis, “Parthian culture and costume”, in J. Curtis (ed.), Mesopotamia and Iran in the Parthian and Sasanian periods, London, 2000.

M. A. R. Colledge, The Parthians (1967).

N. C. Debevoise, A Political History of Parthia 1938, repr. 1970.

R. Girshman et al., Persia, the Immortal Kingdom 1971.

E. Herzfeld, Archaeological History of Persia 1935.

G. J. P. MacEwan, “A Parthian campaign against Elymais in 77 BC.” Iran 24, 1986.

P. B. Lozinski, The Original Homeland of the Parthians 1959.

A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire 2d ed. 1969.

P. S. R. Payne, The Splendor of Persia 1957.

J. Wolski, L’Empire des Arsacides, Peeters, Gent, 1993

Professor Muhammad A. Dandamayev: Achaemenid Education System

The article below by  Muhammad A. Dandamayev on the Achaemenid Education System was first published on-line on December 15, 1997 in the Encyclopedia Iranica and Last Updated: December 9, 2011.

Kindly note that a number of pictures displayed in the article below are from Kaveh Farrokh’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006 and Farrokh’s textbook  Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War-Персы: Армия великих царей-سایه‌های صحرا-).


Little is known of the training of children during the Achaemenid period. In two Elamite documents from Persepolis drafted in the 23rd regal year of Darius the Great (499 B.C.E.) “Persian boys (who) are copying texts” are mentioned (Hallock, nos. 871, 1137); the texts in question are records of the issue of grain to twenty-nine individuals and wine to sixteen. It is possible that the boys were learning Persian cuneiform script, which was probably known only to a few scribes, as it was used mainly for royal triumphal inscriptions. Most of nobles and highly placed Persian civil servants were literate, and writing played part in standard Persian education. The Persians also used foreign scribes (writing chiefly in Aramaic) in the state chancery.

Stylus The oldest known “Pen” or Stylus (discovered in Bondul Tepe, Fars province, Iran), dated to the Middle Elamite era (c.1550-1000 BCE). This was used for inscribing mud tablets (Source: CAIS).

Greek sources provide some idea of typical Persian education. According to Herodotus, Persian boys were not allowed into the presence of their fathers until the age of five years; until then they lived among the women. From ages five to twenty years they were trained in horsemanship, swordsmanship, archery, and telling the truth (Herodotus, 1.136). Persians regarded lying as the worst of offenses, whereas prowess in arms was the mark of manliness. Xenophon wrote in Cyropaedia that until the age of sixteen or seventeen years the sons of Persian nobles were brought up at the royal court, practicing riding, archery, throwing the spear, and hunting.

cyrus-cylinder-New[Click to Enlarge] The Cyrus Cylinder (The British Museum)

The ancient Persians were also instructed in justice, obedience, endurance, and self-restraint (1.2.2-12, 7.5.86, 8.6.10; cf. idem, Anabasis 1.9.2-6; Strabo, 15.3.18). Clearly, apart from ethical guidance, the aim of Persian education was to produce efficient soldiers. This conclusion is confirmed by the tomb inscription of Darius the Great:

Trained am I both with hands and with feet. As a horseman I am a good horseman. As a bowman I am a good bowman both afoot and on horseback. As a spearman I am a good spearman both afoot and on horseback” (DNb 40-45; Kent, Old Persian, pp. 139-40).

In Alcibiades (attributed to Plato, 1.120-23) it is noted that Persian princes were assigned at the age of fourteen years to four eminent Persians, called respectively the “wisest,” “most just,” “most temperate,” and “bravest,” who tutored them in the worship of the gods, government, temperance, and courage respectively. Plutarch (Artaxerxes 3.3) mentioned a priest who taught “the wisdom of the Magi” to Cyrus the Younger (q.v. vi).

cyropaedia-thomas-jefferson-copyThomas Jefferson’s copy of the Cyropaedia (Picture Source:  Angelina Perri Birney). Like many of the founding fathers and those who wrote the US Constitution, President Jefferson regularly consulted the Cyropedia – an encyclopedia written by the ancient Greeks about Cyrus the Great. The two personal copies of Thomas Jefferson’s Cyropaedia are in the US Library of Congress in Washington DC. Thomas Jefferson’s initials “TJ” are seen clearly engraved at the bottom of each page.

There is practically no information on education in the eastern satrapies of the Achaemenid empire, but the evidence for Babylonia and Egypt, where traditional educational systems continued under Persian rule, is extensive. In both provinces formal education was restricted to boys. Reading and writing, as well as some grammar, mathematics, and astronomy, were taught in scribal schools. In Achaemenid Babylonia literacy also was widespread among the non-Iranian population; scribes were numerous and included the sons of shepherds, fishermen, weavers, and the like. Many school texts have survived from Mesopotamia. They include Sumerian-Babylonian dictionaries, tablets with cuneiform signs, and collections of examples of grammatical usage and exercises (Oppenheim, pp. 244-49). The literacy rate was even higher among the Achaemenid military colonists in Elephantine in Egypt (qq.v.), where witnesses to contracts in Aramaic usually signed their own names (Naveh, p. 22). Darius I ordered the restoration of the medical school at Sais in Egypt. It seems, however, that among the Egyptians education remained the privilege of the nobility: The Egyptian dignitary Ujahorresne declared that there were no children of “nobodies” among the students in this medical school (Posener, pp. 1-2, 22).


Boyce, Zoroastrianism II, pp. 181, 212-13, 261.

R. T. Hallock, Persepolis Fortification Tablets, Chicago, 1969.

S. W. Hirsch, The Friendship of the Barbarians. Xenophon and the Persian Empire, Hanover, N.H., 1985, pp. 85-87.

J. Naveh, The Development of the Aramaic Script, The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Proceedings 5/1, Jerusalem, 1970.

A. L. Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia. Portrait of a Dead Civilization, Chicago, 1977.

G. Posener, La premieàre domination perse en Égypte, Cairo, 1936.

University of Cambridge: The 11th Islamic Manuscript Conference (2016)

The following academic event news has been forwarded by Armin Yavari to



Hosted by the University of Cambridge, UK, 13–15 September 2016

***CFP Deadline: 23 November 2015***

Sufis have written litanies, panegyrics, didactic works in verse and prose, hagiographies, discourses, exegetical works, and metaphysical treatises made into manuscripts both humble and lavish. Sufi lodges have housed libraries and manuscript ateliers, and Sufi networks have disseminated manuscripts across the Muslim World. This conference seeks to present current international research trends on the relationship between Sufism and Islamic manuscript culture and generate discussion and study in this field. Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:

Apotropaic uses of Sufi and non-Sufi manuscripts by Sufis
The arts of the book and Sufi artists and patrons
Bibliophilia and bibliophobia in Sufism
Cataloguing manuscripts on Sufism
Collection care programmes for collections of Sufi manuscripts
Conservation treatments on Sufi manuscripts
Diagrams and illustrations in manuscripts on Sufism
Digital humanities and the study of manuscripts on Sufism
The effects of recent conflicts in the Muslim World on collections of Sufi manuscripts
The history of Sufi libraries
Paratexts in manuscripts on Sufism
Preparing printed and digital editions of manuscripts on Sufism
The production of manuscripts by Sufi lodge ateliers
Publication programmes or series of editions or facsimiles of manuscripts on Sufism
Dissemination of texts and manuscripts through Sufi networks
The use of manuscripts in Sufi rituals

This call for papers is open to members and non-members of the Association. The languages of the Conference will be Arabic and English, and submissions will be accepted in both languages. The duration of each conference paper will be 20 minutes, followed by ten minutes of questions and answers. The Association will pay for round-trip economy-class travel to Cambridge, accommodation, and meals for individuals whose papers are accepted. All abstracts will be peer-reviewed.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 10.00 GMT on Monday, 23 November 2015. For further guidance, see our website.

The Islamic Manuscript Association is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting Islamic manuscript collections and supporting those who work with them. Our conferences have been held at the University of Cambridge every summer since 2005 and themes have included topics as diverse as ‘Manuscripts and Conflict’ (2014), ‘The Science of Manuscripts’ (2012), ‘Central Asian Islamic Manuscripts’ (2010), ‘West African Islamic Manuscripts’ (2008), and ‘Conservation, Cataloguing, Accessibility, Copyright and Digitisation’ (2005).

For the call for papers in full, see our website:

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation and the HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Armin Yavari
Assistant Director
The Islamic Manuscript Association
℅ 33 Trumpington Street
Cambridge CB2 1QY
United Kingdom
T: +44 (0)1223 303 177
F: +44 (0)1223 302 218

Farrokh article in New Book by Brill Publications: “Studies on Iran and The Caucasus (In Honour of Garnik Asatrian)”

Brill Publications in Leiden, which is a major international academic venue for scholarly works, has just published a seminal book entitled:

Studies on Iran and The Caucasus (In Honour of Garnik Asatrian), Leiden: Brill, 2015

The book has been edited by Uwe Bläsing, University of Leiden, Victoria Arakelova, Yerevan State University and Matthias Weinreich, along  with the Assistance of Khachik Gevorgian. The Bibliographia Iranica provides an overview of the table of contents…

Studies on Iran and Caucasus-Asatriyan-1

Front cover of the 2015 text “Studies on Iran and The Caucasus (In Honour of Garnik Asatrian), Brill, 2015“. As noted in the Brill webpage: “This unique collection of essays by leading international scholars gives a profound introduction into the great diversity and richness of facets forming the study of one of earth’s most exciting areas, the Iranian and Caucasian lands. Each of the 37 contributions sheds light on a very special topic, the range of which comprises historical, cultural, ethnographical, religious, political and last but not least literary and linguistic issues, beginning from the late antiquity up to current times. Especially during the last decennia these two regions gained greater interest worldwide due to several developments in politics and culture. This fact grants the book, intended as a festschrift for Professor Garnik Asatrian, a special relevance.” Professor Garnik S. Asatrian is the Chair of the Iranian Studies Department at Yerevan State University and the Editor of  the “Iran and the Caucasus” journal, BRILL, Leiden-Boston). Professor Victoria Arakelova (Associate Professor, Department of Iranian Studies, Yerevan State University) is the Associate Editor, of “Iran and the Caucasus”, BRILL, Leiden.

The textbook has also published an article by Kaveh Farrokh [The Military Campaigns of Shah Abbas I in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus (1603-1618). Studies on Iran and The Caucasus (Studies in Honour of Prof. Garnik S. Asatrian; Edited by U. Bläsing, V. Arakelova & M. Weinreich), pp. 75-95.] – below is the abstract for that article:

This paper provides an overview of the Safavid military forces and reforms at the time of Shah Abbas I (r.1587-1629), especially with the promotion of the new Ghulam units to counterbalance the traditional Qizlibash forces which had bought the Safavids to power at the time of Shah Ismail (r. 1502-1524). Other significant military reforms were the introduction of firearm units such as the Tofanchi (musketeers), Jazayerchis (bearers of larger and heavier muskets) and Toopchis (artillerymen). The introduction of these reforms proved instrumental in Shah Abbas I’s successes in expelling the Ottomans from Tabriz (1603) and Yerevan (1604), defeating the Ottoman counteroffensive in Azerbaijan (1605) and the capture of Shamakhi (1606) and Ganja (1606). Large numbers of Armenians, Kurds and Azeris had been displaced from their homelands by Shah Abbas I as a result of his scorched earth tactics against invading Ottoman forces in 1606-1607. Shah Abbas’ military successes led to the Ottoman-Safavid peace treaty of 1612 which affirmed all of the Iranian conquests since the recapture of Tabriz. The Safavid army had to fight a series of battles in Georgia (1613-1623) which led to a new Ottoman war (1616). The Safavid army defeated the Ottoman offensives in Yerevan and Ardabil (1616-1618) obliging the Ottomans to negotiate a new peace treaty which affirmed all of Shah Abbas’ conquests since 1603.


Rare drawing by a European traveller who witnessed the aftermath of the liberation of Tabriz by Shah Abbas I on October 21, 1603. Local Azari citizens welcomed the Iranian Safavid army as liberators and took harsh reprisals against the defeated Ottoman Turks who had been occupying their city. Many unfortunate Turks fell into the hands of Tabriz’s citizens and were decapitated (Picture Source: Matofi, A., 1999, Tarikh-e-Chahar Hezar Sal-e Artesh-e Iran: Az Tamadon-e Elam ta 1320 Khorsheedi, Jang-e- Iran va Araqh [The 4000 Year History of the Army of Iran: From the Elamite Civilization to 1941, the Iran-Iraq War]. Tehran: Entesharat-e Iman, p.63).

Studies on Iran and Caucasus-Asatriyan-2

Back cover of the 2015 text “Studies on Iran and The Caucasus (In Honour of Garnik Asatrian), Brill, 2015“. The Brill webpage cites the following scholars as contributors to the volume: Victoria Arakelova; Marco Bais; Uwe Bläsing; Vahe S. Boyajian; Claudia A. Ciancaglini; Johnny Cheung; Viacheslav A. Chirikba; Matteo Compareti; Caspar ten Dam; Desmond Durkin-Meisterernst; Kaveh Farrokh; Aldo Ferrari; Ela Filippone; Khachik Gevorgian; Jost Gippert; Nagihan Haliloğlu; Elif Kanca; Pascal Kluge; Anna Krasnowolska; Vladimir Livshits; Hirotake Maeda; Irina Morozova; Irène Natchkebia; Peter Nicolaus; Antonio Panaino; Mikhail Pelevin; Adriano V. Rossi; James R. Russell; Dan Shapira; Wolfgang Schulze; Martin Schwarz; Roman Smbatian; Donald Stilo; Çakır Ceyhan Suvari; Giusto Traina; Garry Trompf; Matthias Weinreich; Eberhardt Werner and Boghos Zekiyan.


[Click to enlarge] Shah Abbas I (r. 1587-1629) as depicted in a European copper engraving made by Dominicus Custos citing him as “Schach Abas Persarum Rex” or “Shah Abbas the Great monarch of Persia”. Note how Custos makes a particular emphasis on linking Shah Abbas to the “Mnemona Cyrus” (the Memory of Cyrus the Great of Persia). Shah Abbas’ victories over the Ottomans weakened them against the Europeans to the West, and especially in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Long Time Between Drinks

On a humorous note: A long time between drinks! A 1902 cartoon entitled “491 BC-1902 CE” in Puck magazine (v. 52, no. 1348, 1902, December 31) depicting “Persia” (at left) toasting “Greece” (at right) from a punch bowl labeled “Renewal of Diplomatic Relations” (Source: US Library of Congress).

SUFISM AND ISLAMIC MANUSCRIPT CULTURE – THE ELEVENTH ISLAMIC MANUSCRIPT CONFERENCE – Hosted by the University of Cambridge, UK, 13–15 September 2016 -***CFP Deadline: 23 November 2015***