Second Farrokh Book translated by Taghe Bostan Publishers into Persian

Kaveh Farrokh’s second text, Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War-Персы: Армия великих царей-سایههای صحرا (April 2007; 320 pages; ISBN: 9781846031083; Osprey Publishing) is the first text to specifically outline the military history of ancient Iran from the bronze age to the end of the Sassanian era. This book was recently translated for the second time into Persian by Taghe Bostan publishing which is affiliated with The University of Kermanshah:

Shadows in the Desert-Taghe Bostan Publishers-3

Farrokh’s second text translated into Persian for the second time. This version was translated by Bahram Khozai and published in Iran by the -طاق بستان- Taghe-Bastan company on January 21, 2012 (01 بهمن، 1390).

The second translation of the book into Persian cited above is independent of the first Persian translation by Shahrbanu Saremi (entitled -سایههایی در بیابان: ایران باستان در زمان جنگ-) which appeared through  Qoqnoos Publishers in 2011.

 Shadows-in-the-Desert-in-Persian-English-Russian

Shadows in the Desert Ancient Persia at War – The first Persian translation by Qoqnoos Publishers with the English to Persian translation having been done by Shahrbanu Saremi (LEFT),  The original publication by Osprey Publishing (CENTER) the Farrokh text  translated  into Russian (consult the Russian EXMO Publishers website) (RIGHT).

The Tehran Times on July 4, 2011 as well as The Times of Iran (July 4, 2011) announced the first translation of Farrokh’s book into Persian by Qoqnoos Publishers with the final report on this made by the official Mehr News Agency of Iran on September, 24, 2011 (see also earlier report by Mehr News in Persian –ناگفته‌هایی از قدرت سپاهیان ایران باستان در «سایه‌های صحرا» بازگو شد-). This has also been reported in Press TVKhabar Farsi,  Balatarin and the official Iran Book News Association (IBNA-سايه‌هاي صحرا؛ ايران باستان در جنگ منتشر شد -) on September 28, 2011.

Frye and Farrokh
Meeting his mentors: Farrokh greets the late Professor Emeritus Richard Nelson Frye of Harvard University in march 2008 (shaking hands with Farrokh) and world-renowned Iranologist, Dr. Farhang Mehr (at center), winner of the 2010 Merit and Scholarship award (photo from Persian American Society,March 1, 2008).  As noted by Mafie, Professor Frye of Harvard University wrote the foreword of Farrokh’s text stating that “…Dr. Kaveh Farrokh has given us the Persian side of the picture as opposed to the Greek and Roman viewpoint …it is refreshing to see the other perspective, and Dr. Farrokh sheds light on many Persian institutions in this history…” (consult Mafie, 2010, p.2).

Below are a number of reviews of the text:

The Persian translation has been very well-received in Iran as indicated by the November 2011 newspaper clip below:

Page 52 of hashahri javan vol 335-2011
 [CLICK TO ENLARGE] Page 52 of Hamshahri newspaper, volume 335, November 17, 2011. The article in Persian by Ehsan Rezai reads “History as narrated by the Sword”.
Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War has been awarded with the Persian Golden Lioness Award by the WAALM Society in London as the “Best History Book of 2008” on October 31st 2008. This was reported by major media outlets such as the BBC, Iran’s equivalent of the New York Times, The Kayhan Newspaper (the Iranian equivalent of the New York Times) and the widely Iranian.com. The Farrokh text was also nominated as one of three finalists for the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Awards by the Independent Book Publisher’s Association.

The Princetonian: Petition challenges Pourdavoud Chair candidate

The article below (The Daily Princetonian: “Petition challenges Pourdavoud Chair candidate”, Chitra Marti, January 7, 2014) was sent forward to Kavehfarrokh.com by Professor Dariush Borbor (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge and Director of the Research Institute and Library of Iranian Studies (RILIS) at Tehran). This pertains to the petition initiated by Professor Ehsan Yarshater which challenges Princeton University’s selection of “Pourdavoud Chair in pre-modern Persia”.

Inexplicably, the petition initiated by Professor Yarshater has been disabled; for further details see article below. Note especially the interview with Professor Borbor in the below article.

Dr. Mohammad Ala (Recipient of Grand Prix Film Italia Award in June 2013) made the following revelation on December 14, 2013

Friends:

 A little research shows that the person behind this agenda is Professor Dimitri Gutas of Yale, who invented the term Greco-Arabian for scholars such as Farabi, Khwarazmi, Ebne Sina etc. to deny their Persianness. Van Bladel happens to have studied with him. The agenda behind this nomination is not known.- – petrodollars, lobby group(s), or self-promotion, but we must prevent not only this nomination, but the very idea of ‘Greco-Arabian’ which is not related to us (Iranians).

Kindly note that the pictures and captions below did not appear in the original Princetonian report.

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A petition organized by Columbia professor Ehsan Yarshater surfaced challenging the University’s current candidate for the position of the Ibrahim Pourdavoud Professorship in Persian Studies.

The petition, which has been taken down, argued that having the name of Pourdavoud, a pioneer in the field of pre-Islamic Iranian studies, meant that the professor who occupies the Pourdavoud Chair should continue his work in the field of pre-Islamic studies. But the current candidate suggested by the search committee, according to the petition, was a Greco-Arabic scholar who has not specialized in pre-Islamic culture and who would thus not exemplify the memory of Pourdavoud.

The petition was taken down the week of Dec. 22 for unknown reasons. Yarshater did not respond to a further request for comment as to why the petition had been taken down.

Professor Ehsan YarshaterProfessor Ehsan Yarshater (Picture Source: NPR.org)

The petition, which was addressed to University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, copied Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani ’80 and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani ’74, whose $10 million donation to the University in 2012 will help establish a Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies. The Mossavar-Rahmanis did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

However, the Pourdavoud Chair was not established by the Mossavar-Rahmani family. It was separately established by Dr. Anahita Naficy Lovelace ’75 and her husband Jim Lovelace. Dr. Lovelace said they were aware of the petition and declined to comment until after an appointment has been made.

According to Yarshater, the candidate being considered was Kevin van Bladel, a current history professor at Ohio State University. Van Bladel declined to comment for this article and said he had not received any formal offer from Princeton University.

“To allow a chair named after Pourdavoud, who spent all his life teaching and writing about Zoroastrianism and the pre-Islamic culture of Iran,” the petition read, “to be held by someone whose formal academic training has been in Arabic, Syriac, and Greek, and who by and large is unknown in the field, is considered a slap in the face of Iranian Studies, the community at large, and the memory of Pourdavoud.”

Van Bladel has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Yale University and was previously an assistant professor of classics at the University of Southern California. He specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of the Near East in the first millennium CE, focusing on the translation of works between Arabic, Greek, Syriac, Latin, Sanskrit and various Iranian languages such as Middle Persian and Arabic. His teaching also focuses on the ancient Mediterranean and Near East.

“In the perspective of my research, the advent of Islam is not the beginning or end of a period; it can be understood only by reference to what came before as much as to what came after,” van Bladel’s OSU biography states.

van BladelAssociate Professor & Chair Kevin van Bladel of Ohio State University (Picture source: OSU).

Ibrahim Pourdavoud, for whom the chair is named, was a Persian scholar who studied pre-Islamic Iranian history, focusing particularly on Zoroastrianism and Zoroastrian culture. He is perhaps most well known for translating the Avesta, the primary collection of Zoroastrian sacred texts, into Persian and providing explanatory commentary.

Dr. Lovelace said in an email that by naming the chair after Pourdavoud, they intended to “honor him and his life’s work on the occasion of his 125th birthday in 2011, which happened to coincide with [her] mother’s 90th birthday.”

In an interview with The Daily Princetonian, Yarshater acknowledged that although van Bladel has many strengths, they do not lie in the same field Pourdavoud spearheaded.

“The one scholar that Princeton University was thinking to appoint — although they haven’t appointed yet — was not an expert on any of those things that are Persian history, Persian culture or Iranian language. Even though under other standards he is a very good scholar, he would be more appropriate for chairs in Arabic or Greek,” Yarshater said.

Changing the Selection Process

Yarshater also suggested that the selection process be altered so as to better represent the intentions of a chair named for Pourdavoud.

“In order to do justice to the chair, to the donors and to the name of Pourdavoud, the selection committee should include several people of expertise in Iranian studies,” Yarshater said. “Ideally they would advertise the chair, a number of people would apply, and they will then decide who is the best choice for the chair … The committee would compose of people specialized in Iranian studies, not people in Arabic or Greek or Syriac.”

Dean of Faculty David Dobkin, who was also copied on the petition, said in an email that the selection committee for a chair position is typically made of faculty from the relevant department, or of faculty whose departments overlap with the area of the chair. Often, other faculty with broader interests are also included. Then, the search committee will begin placing ads and sending out requests for nominations to leading scholars in the field.

LIVE.NB_DobkinProfessor David Dobkin of Princeton University (Picture Source: Princeton Alumni Weekly)

Once the search committee has found a potential candidate, Dobkin said, he or she is proposed to the Advisory Committee on Appointments and Advancements, which solicits input from leading scholars in the field as to the candidate’s suitability for the position.

According to Dobkin, the donor and the University will come to a consensus on a description for a position, and the search committee will begin the selection process from there. Donors are not involved in the identification nor selection of candidates to occupy the chair.

Dobkin declined to comment on the search committee organized for the Pourdavoud Chair, citing the need to uphold the integrity and confidentiality of the selection process.

Greco-Arabic vs. Pre-Islamic

Dariush Borbor, Director of the Research Institute and Library of Iranian Studies in Tehran, signed the petition, citing his personal and academic belief that the current candidate does not meet the ideals of a Pourdavoud Chair.

“My personal feeling, as many other scholars, most of us agree with what Professor Yarshater has written in his letter that this endowment for the professorship at Princeton was made by two Iranians and they wanted to concentrate on Iranian studies,” Borbor said. “The chair which is named after [Pourdavoud] should be occupied by a person who specialized either in the languages of ancient Iran or the religion or generally the culture of ancient Iran.”

YSU-16-Asatrian-Farrokh-Borbor-3Professor Garnik S. Asatrian (Chair, Iranian Studies Dept., Yerevan State University; Editor, “Iran and the Caucasus”, BRILL, Leiden-Boston), Kaveh Farrokh and Professor Dariush Borbor (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge and Director of the Research Institute and Library of Iranian Studies (RILIS) at Tehran) at Yerevan State University conference “Shirvan, Arran, and Azerbaijan: A Historical-Cultural Retrospective” (November, 2013). Professor Borbor has often lectured and written about the misconceptions against Iranian Studies perpetuated by Greek scholarship.

Like Yarshater, Borbor acknowledged that van Bladel has many strengths in other fields, but that he may not be suited for this position.

“He may be a very good scholar as well, of his own right, but if he is a scholar specialized on Arabic, Syriac and Greek, I don’t think it’s a very suitable choice … Especially the Greek side, because with most of the scholars who were specialized in Greek studies and on the history or culture of Greece, their interpretation of Iranian studies was often very one-sided and sometimes quite wrong,” Borbor said. “I have, myself, written and lectured in many universities about the misconceptions that Greek scholarship has given to Iranian studies.”

Hosi Mehta, president of the Zoroastrian Association of Chicago, signed the petition as well, also citing a concern for the potential misrepresentation of Iranian history.

“Persian history is really rich, and I was surprised that they could not find somebody who would be into that than finding someone who has the Arabic background,” Mehta said. “I read his qualifications, that he was an Arabic scholar, and the concern was that sometimes things get misrepresented … the winner usually writes the history, so it could be changed in different ways. There are people who say the Holocaust never happened.”

The Elamite site of Dur Untash or Choqa-Zanbil

The ancient Elamite site of Dur Untash or Choqa-zanbil  (Persian:چغازنبيل‎- basket hill) in Iran’s Khuzestan province has been the focus of much academic attention in recent years. It is notable that Choqa-zanbil was the first Iranian archaeological site to be listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1979.

چغازبیل Choqa-zanbil is located approximately eighty kilometers to the north of Ahvaz. The site was built by  Elamite king Untash-Napirisha around 1250 BCE.

 The construction of Choqa-zanbil or Dur Untash has been attributed to Elamite king Untash-Napirisha (reigned approx. 1275 to 1240 BCE).  The site was built to pay homage to the Elamite god Inshushinak. Note that the Elamite term Dur Untash is translated as the  “town of Untash”. The site of Choqa-zanbil  is protected by three concentric walls which are integral to the complex. The inner sector of Choqa-zanbil is occupied by a large ziggurat which was dedicated to Inshushinak.

 Choqazanbil-1

The Choqa-zanbil ziggurat had been built over an older structure which had been a square-shaped temple that featured storage areas. This earlier structure had also been built by king Untash-Napirisha. It is notable that the ziggurat at this site is considered to be the best preserved example of such structures. 

The middle sector of Dur Untash contains a total of eleven temples to accommodate a series of lesser Elamite gods.  Archaeologists have noted that king Untash-Napirisha had intended to build a total of 22 temples but this project came to halt upon the king’s passing. The outer sector of Choqa-zanbil features underground tombs, regal palaces as well as a funerary palace.

 Choqa-zanbil-Model

A model reconstruction of Dur Untash or Choqa-zanbil. It has been suggested that King Untash-Napirisha may have been endeavoring to build a new religious site which would have united the Elamite gods from the lowlands and highlands. If this was the case, then the king may have intended to replace Susa as Elam’s main religious center.  

Interestingly, the site of Choqa-zanbil remained inhabited until it violent destruction by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (reigned approx. 668–627 BCE) in 640 BCE. The Assyrians inflicted much damage to Elam, however the region’s culture and language endured and was to be passed onto the arriving Iranian peoples, notably the Persians.

Ashurbanipal-Siege-Elam

Assyrian warrior-king Ashurbanipal engaged in a major siege battle against Dur Untash (modern-day Choqa-zanbil). By 639 BCE the Assyrian armies had completely won the war and Elam was plundered and devastated. The armies of the later Achaemenids adopted various Assyrian features into their military system, notably the concept of the “Chiliarch” which was a type of commander in chief. Assyrian levies were also present in the armies of Xerxes (reigned 486-465 BCE) during his invasion of Greece in 480 BCE.

The devastation wrought by Ashurbanipal upon Elam is seen in his proclamation below:

For a distance of a month and twenty-five days’ journey I devastated the provinces of Elam. Salt and sihlu (a type of course plant) I scattered over them . . . The dust of Susa, Madaktu, Haltemash and the rest of their cities I gathered together and took to Assyria . . . The noise of people, the tread of cattle and sheep, the glad shouts of rejoicing, I banished from its fields. Wild asses, gazelles and all kinds of beasts of the plain I caused to lie down among them, as if at home.”

Assyrians_blinding_captives

Ancient Assyrians blinding their captives. Despite the devastation wrought upon Elam by the armies of Assyria, the Elamites survived, with much of their legacy being passed onto the Iranian-speaking peoples.

Farrokh Lecture on Ancient Iranian Women at Portland State University

Kaveh Farrokh will be providing a lecture at Portland State University (PSU) (topic: Women in Ancient Iran) on April 20, 2013.

The PSU lecture is part of larger series of talks on Persian Women organized by the Persian program at PSU and  presented with funding from PARSA Community Foundation (see Facebook) and co-sponsored by the Middle East Studies Center and the Department of World Languages & Literatures at Portland State University.

Portland-PARSA-1

[Click to Enlarge] Kaveh Farrokh’s lecture begins with the role of women on the Iranian plateau from the Bronze Age both before and after the Indo-European arrivals. The prime importance of women in Iranian speaking tribes in the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (i.e. Scythians, Sarmatians, etc.), and the Iranian plateau are detailed, notably the Achaemenid and the ensuing Partho-Sassanian eras. (Time permitting) the discussion then draws on select highlights of the post Islamic era: notably the Karim Khan Zand era and the Constitutional Revolution.

Note that the lectures at Portland State University (April 20-21, 2013) also feature a highly impressive array of Iranologist scholars:

  • Dr. Nayareh Tohidi of California State University: Women as Agents of Change in Modern Iran
  • Dr. Dick Davis of Ohio State University: Women in Persian Literature
  • Dr. Shahla Haeri of Boston University: Women and Political Leadership in Iran

The lecture at Portland State University on “Women in Ancient Iran” will be held at:

Location: PSU-Smith Memorial Student Union, room 238, on Broadway St

Time: 3:00 pm

Conference: From Elam to Iran

The University of Bologna in Ravenna, hosted an excellent conference on March 22-23, 2013 entitled “From Elam to Iran”. For more information on topics presented by professors and consult the brochure here in pdf (From Elam to Iran-University of Bolognia).

Elamite-Woman-Dress

Reconstruction of female Elamite dress (circa 3rd millennium BC) by Iranian researchers in the 1970s (for more click here…)

One of the topics presented was prominent Iranologist Professor Yuri Stoyanov (member of the Department of the Near and Middle East, Faculty of Languages and Cultures in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London):

Elam and Media in some contemporary Kurdish and Yezidi historiographical construct

Readers interested in  topics on ancient Elam, the Medes and other domains of  pre-Achaemenid Iran may wish to consult the following links: Pre-Achaemenid Iran.

Ravenna is also host to one of the Roman depictions of Iranians and their costumes during the Sassanian era:

Ravenna3WiseMen

Roman depiction of Iranian (Partho-Sassanian) costume as worn by the three wise men in the Basilica of Sant’pollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. Traditional Partho-Sassanian dress was to be joined by newer forms of dress bearing elements of Central Asian influence by the late 6th and early 7th centuries CE, as seen in Tagh-e Bostan in Kermanshah, Western Iran (Picture source: Faith, Fiction, Friends Blogspot).