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Sasanian Iran (224-651 CE): Portrait of a Late Antique Empire (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 30. Juli 2008

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Format: Taschenbuch
In diesem Büchlein legt der kalifornische Universitätsprofessor Touraj Daryaee auf etwas über hundert Seiten Fließtext einen knappen, aber fundierten Überblick über mehr als vierhundert Jahre sasanidische Geschichte vor. Dass ein Werk dieser Länge dabei zwangsläufig ganz an der Oberfläche der Vorgänge bleiben muss, versteht sich von selbst, allerdings runden teilweise gehaltvolle Fußnoten, im Durchschnitt zwei bis drei pro Seite, sowie eine akzeptable Bibliographie den Text ab und öffnen das Tor zu weiterführenden Studien - wenn man die Bereitschaft und Möglichkeit hat, sich teils sehr entlegene wissenschaftliche Publikationen zu besorgen. Insgesamt wird das Buch europäischen wissenschaftlichen Standards knapp, aber doch, gerecht.

Das weit verbreitete Problem amerikanischer wissenschaftlicher Arbeiten, die teils essentiellen Erkenntnisse nicht-englischsprachige Publikationen fast gänzlich auszuklammern, ist auch hier nicht gänzlich abwesend, allerdings berücksichtigt Daryaee in Fußnoten und Bibliographie wenigstens die wichtigsten französischen und deutschen Publikationen und verweist im Vorwort explizit darauf, dass anders als in den genannten Sprachen bisher keine Einführung in die sasanidische Geschichte in englischer Sprache vorliegt, eine Lücke, die er mit diesem Buch zu schließen gedenkt.

Dies gelingt Daryaee zweifellos, und auf gutem Niveau.
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HASH(0x91e1da5c) von 5 Sternen Filling a Gap 12. Oktober 2008
Von Khodadad REZAKHANI - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Touraj Daryaee is the only holder of a chair in ancient Iranian history in the US, and he is also the only one exclusively dedicated to the Sasanian History. Sasanians ruled over Iran, Central Asia, Caucasus, and much of the Near East for 450 years, at the same time that powerful empires were ruling China, India, and the Mediterranean world. They were the major opponents of the Romanans and managed to defeat one Roman emperor, kill another one, and take a third into captivity. They stopped the onslaught of the Hunnish tribes to Central and South Asia. They controlled the major land and see trade routes between east and west Asia. They were the most powerful, well-oraganised, centralised, and wealthy power in West Asia for the entire period of Late Antiquity.

Still, no book has ever been written in English about their history. Works in French and German have so far been the major references for their history.

In this book, Daryaee presents a full picture of Sasanian history, mostly from a political point of view, but also with due regard to changing idealogies and economic pressures. In addition to relying on the testimony of ancient historians, he also makes extensive use of material culture, art, and inscriptions from the period. In short, he provides a readable and concise account of Sasanian history, as well as providing a gateway for future study of this fascinating empire.

The book suffers from a lack of proper maps which could have made it easier for the unfamiliar readers to understand the context. Also, an appendix of some sort including a timeline could have been very helpful. Still, the publication of this book is a major contribution to the study of Sasanian history and bringing it into the "mainstream" of academia...
19 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x91e2103c) von 5 Sternen An Important Book With An Unfortunate Tendancy Towards Nationalism 27. Dezember 2011
Von Arch Stanton - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I think that the best way to review this book is to describe what's good about it before going into what's bad. The good: this is basically the only straight history of Sassanian Persia. The Persian Empire as a whole has gotten very little press, and no era more so than the Sassanian one. The Parthians have several books on them (mostly out of date) but the Sassanians are only covered in general histories of Iran (Such as Frye's excellent Heritage of Persia) or in foreign language works such as Christensen's 'L'Iran sous les Sassanides' and Schippmann's 'Grundzüge der Geschichte des sasanidischen Reiches.' Obviously this poses a problem to anyone working on them in English. The only other works which deal with them are books on the Romans and Arabs and then only through the lens of these cultures. This book tries to correct that lack and generally succeeds despite its brevity.

First off this book really functions best as a companion piece to Dr. Daryaee's other book Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. This book offers a pretty straightforward political narrative of the Sassanid era while that book offers a social and economic view. That book includes a summary of the political side too, but it is so brief as to be almost unintelligible. The political narrative here is also fairly brief, though not fatally so. It is unfortunate that the book couldn't be longer (it's only about 100 pages). There is clearly much further that needs saying. However, focusing on what it does have it contains the best overview of Sassanid Persian history that I can find. It is less in depth than I would like (I feel like there was a missed opportunity here) but in general it is complete and provides a solid grounding for further research. The Cambridge History of Iran goes more in depth but offers a confusing and dense account of the period. It is also easily sidetracked. This book is a good reference for the political history and offers details on where to search elsewhere for information.

A complaint from an earlier reviewer is indeed valid, though I didn't even notice it until he pointed it out. Dr. Daryaee often uses X for Ch (as in loch). Thus Khusrau becomes Xusro. That's a standard use of the letter in Near Eastern linguistics, but it will be confusing for people who've never seen it before. Beginners in other words, which is who this book is designed for. Also appearing is the letter s with an inverted ^ over it. It's pronounced sh. Don't ask why they don't just write sh, it just is that way. Perhaps a pronunciation guide would have helped. This book also features some horribly outdated maps. I believe that they are just photocopies of 19th Century originals. There is only one decent map and it comes at the very end. Better maps are a must for future works in this field.

Now for the real problem of the book. It has a definite nationalist agenda. The first chapter is more of a rant about Eurocentrism and Western prejudices than any serious introduction to the subject. In it he makes some seriously unsupportable claims. For example, he states that historians of Iran, Egypt, and Mesopotamia are hopelessly scarce in the West. For Persia he has a point, and perhaps that's why he went so far off base on the other two. But he is off base. Without the efforts of European scholars there would be no histories of Egypt or Babylon. All of the early archaeological work as well as the linguistic decipherment of the ancient languages was done by Europeans. Even today the majority of archaeologists are European and among the countries of the Middle East only Egypt and Turkey have really learned the value of archaeology. Europeans invented, refined, and dominated the field. In short, what he says is not only false but insanely so. A doctor of history cannot possibly be so ignorant. I have no choice but to assume he got so carried away that he just typed the whole thing out in a rage. I turned vainly to the end in the hope that the introduction was written by another author, but to no avail.

I have to feel that a lot of this anger comes from his finding that Iranian studies are put in with Near Eastern Languages and Cultures or Civilizations rather than with History. He is also exceedingly annoyed that Greek and Roman history falls under the heading Classics, a fact which annoys me as well. Using this as a basis for a belief in the essential racism of the Western University system however is just wrong. The reason that Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian, etc. history comes under Languages, Anthropology, or Archaeology is because the evidence is primarily archaeological or linguistic. Greece and Rome left behind a great deal of written material and thus come under History (which is why the term Classics throws it all off). If the Western system were truly incorrigibly racist then even cultures with rich written material would also fall under different departments provided they were foreign. Cultures such as China, which is the only other society from the time to leave vast written records. And Africists are among the most sought after historians in the field. So why the fuss?

He also rants about Eurocentrism and calls Black Athena the 'best historiography of the development of Classical Studies in the past three centuries.' That book is a long discredited attempt to prove that all of European civilization was stolen entire from Egypt. Listing it on page one as a major influence automatically discredits your objectivity before you even start. Then going on to rant about how blind the "New World Order" is to Iranian history and how unimportant and temporarily their period of dominance is only serves to highlight such bias. Rome's fear of Persia cannot be compared to America's fear of Iran since the one derives from their proximity and failures and the other from religious conflicts. I don't think that most Americans are even aware that Persia is the same as Iran. I here feel nothing but embarrassment for the author as this section reads more like one of Ahmadinejad's speeches than the work of an impartial historian. I certainly don't expect an author to remain unenthusiastic or fail to defend his field, but if he can't do that except by denigrating the entire educational and cultural system of his target audience then the problem lies with him, not them.

Fortunately such propaganda is mostly contained in the introduction. In the work itself he is better able to maintain the appearance of impartiality. To my surprise he even listed Alexander Severus' campaign against Ardashir as "a conflict which proved to have no clear winner," when he could easily have maintained that it was a Persian victory (as many others do). He is also undecided on Gordian's death which makes me all the more astonished at his introduction. I've seen many writers on the Sassanians maintain that Gordian was killed in battle with Shapur so to find an undecided voice when expecting a fanatical nationalist is quite a relief.

So what to make of this book? It's still very good although the nationalistic elements and cultural paranoia are a nuisance. They can however be filtered out as long as you can spot them. If you read a book on Roman history you will be forced to filter out the Roman perspective anyway, so in some sense you're doing the same thing for this book. Nonetheless a modern work has different standards from an ancient one. To spend so much time going on about these things is disgraceful and unprofessional. Fortunately his second book has toned down the rhetoric some which comes as a welcome relief. Books on this subject are simply unavailable anywhere else which makes this work invaluable.
3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x91e1fef4) von 5 Sternen A Useful Survey of an Important Empire 21. Juni 2011
Von Galgar - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This book attempts to fill a large gap by providing a concise and up-to-date survey of a neglected period and area of the ancient world, and for the most part it succeeds. It helps that the Sasanian Empire is Dr. Daryaee's academic specialty, which allows him to present the story of the Sasanians from their own perspective, not that of the Romans and Byzantines, as is often done. I found the work to be both engaging and illuminating.

However, the book also leaves the reader with questions that I think should have been addressed, and that would have strengthened it. I understand that this is a political history, and so social and economic issues will therefore be less of a focus, but to discuss politics without them is also a hazard. Two things in particular would have strengthened the presentation: first, a discussion of the Sasanian importance on the Silk Road, which could include contacts with Central Asia, India and China, as well as the Mediterranean world. While there might not be much political history available from our sources there, some information could certainly be derived from other material, both archaeological and textual.

Second, I would have appreciated more discussion of the importance of Zoroastrianism in Sasanian Iran, particularly since it was the Sasanians who gave that faith its strongest political support, and under whom a concerted effort to create an orthodox state religion took place. What do we know about the relationship between traditional Zoroastrianism and Zurvanism, for example, and why and how did the Sasanians embrace Zurvanism? What information do we have about persecutions of non-Zurvanaite Zoroastrians under the Sasanian kings, particularly with figures like Tansar and Kirder? Some information on these subjects is available from Mary Boyce's Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (The Library of Religious Beliefs and Practices), but that book is thirty years old and it would be helpful if a specialist like Dr. Daryaee could bring us up to date.

Such omissions are, of course, a minor quibble. The only other complaint I have is the book's poor editing. I understand that Dr. Daryaee is not a native speaker of English, and so cannot blame him here; his English is infinitely better than my Persian. However, when publishing any book it is not too much to ask that the publisher let a qualified editor who does know the language well go through the text at least once and iron out grammatical mistakes and unclear sections. Also, a brief discussion of the spelling conventions for Sasanian period names and words would have been helpful, since there appears to be no consensus on these in the literature; is it Bahram or Wahram, for example? And why use "X" for the "Kh" sound ("Xusro" vs. "Khusrau"), given that only a professional linguist is likely to understand the symbol? Since the book has very real value to a non-professional audience, using more traditional letters would would certainly widen its appeal without compromising its value to the specialist.

On the whole, however, Dr. Daryaee's book is a fine contribution to ancient history studies, and helps to offset the Roman/Byzantine bias of many of our histories of this period (and boy, were they biased, too, perhaps because the Sasanians regularly defeated the Romans and Byzantines in battle and posed a constant threat to them; in the early 7th Century they nearly brought down the Roman/Byzantine Empire, which would have changed European history in completely unpredictable ways). The reader who takes the time to study this fascinating empire will be richly rewarded, and this book is a good place to start.
8 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x91e21108) von 5 Sternen Dense. Simple. Straightforward. 4. April 2010
Von Cherith Cutestory - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Touraj Daryaee has done a fantastic job narrating the political history of the awe-inspiring Sasanian Empire. Anyone who has even the mildest interest in Sasanian Iran, Ancient Persia or even Middle Eastern history in general has to pick up a copy of this book.

The Sasanian Empire was a formidable and influential world power that is not widely remembered as other important parts of history are. It is one of the largest and most significant entities to ever challenge (and even defeat, numerous times) the feared and imposing Roman/Byzantine empire, creating a power balance in a volatile, important region of the world.

What I liked the most about this book is the elements I mentioned in the title. The book's terminology is far from complicated, making it very accessible and readable by regular people (like myself). It is also very focused, concentrating on the main subject and steering clear from any detailed and irrelevant deviation. And lastly, the book is deliciously dense with information on Sasanian Persia. The author keeps an objective, straight-to-the-point tone from beginning to end.

There's only one slight issue, which is that the author sometimes suddenly talks about people who were not introduced, so you have to already know about them to know what he's talking about. But this isn't very common throughout.

A rewarding and very enjoyable read. I highly recommend it.
HASH(0x91e21138) von 5 Sternen A solid book 20. Juni 2014
Von Life long learner - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Dr. Daryaee is working hard on presenting the historical era that alot of Western Antiquity History books neglect to put any time in to. This book is a quick overview of the Sasanian Empire and the mechanics of it inside itself and dealing with multiple fronts from Rome, Armenia, Georgia, India, Central Asia and Arabia
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