Archive for the ‘News’ Category

John Trikeriotis: False depictions of Xerxes and Artemesia in “300: Rise of an Empire”

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Historian John Trikeriotis, himself of Greek descent, has written an excellent critique of the sequel to the original 300 movie entitled: “300: Rise of an Empire” And Its Ahistorical Depiction Of Xerxes The Great And Queen Artemisia” (Payvand News, March 16, 2014).

John Trikeriotis Historian John Trikeriotis is a lecturer of ancient Greek warfare and member of the archaeological group, “The Leonidas Expeditions”. In addition, he created the 300spartanwarriors.com, which is used by schools and libraries as a resource on the Battle of Thermopylae.

Trikeriotis’ article is reproduced below; kindly note that excepting one photo, all other pictures posted in the version below originally appeared in Kaveh Farrokh’s response to the first 300 movie entitled: “The 300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction“. All commentaries for the pictures are posted by Kavehfarrokh.com. There is also a section of the History Channel program “Engineering an Empire: The Persians” embedded into Trikeriotis’ article below.

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The historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus wrote in Book 7, Chapter 187 (Aubrey De Selincourt translation) that: “Amongst all these immense numbers there was not a man who, for stature and noble bearing, was more worthy than Xerxes to wield so vast a power.” Yet, the Warner Bros.’ movies “300”, and its followup “300: Rise of an Empire” which premiered last week, elected to characterize the Achaemenid king based on the eponymous Frank Miller comic book series. His depiction in both of these films as a multi-pierced, bejeweled royal has greatly contrasted with the appearance of Darius the Great’s son, who was immortalized on the palatial reliefs of Persepolis, and more accurately portrayed in the 1962 20th Century Fox motion picture, “The 300 Spartans”.

Pic32-Xerxes-in-GreeceA historical reconstruction by Professor Nick Sekunda: Court Eunuch (left), King Xerxes (centre) and Royal Spearbearer (right) (Nick Sekunda, The Persian Army, Osprey Publications, 1992, Plate B; Paintings by Simon Chew). For more see Farrokh’s “The 300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction“.

While this physical transformation in the movie is disconcerting, it pales in comparison to the embellishments with respect to Xerxes’ reign over his forces during the Graeco-Persian Wars. More succinctly, it is the symbiotic relationship between Xerxes and Queen Artemisia of Halicarnassus which is appallingly ahistorical. Herodotus recorded through oral testimony that Artemisia commanded five vessels, and added that Xerxes was so impressed as to her gallantry during the Battle of Salamis (September 480 BCE) that he stated, “My men have turned to women, and my women to men.”

While this anecdote may be apocryphal, screenwriters, Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, have significantly expanded the role of Artemisia beyond incredulity. Portrayed by French actress Eva Green, the Queen of Halicarnassus’ influence over Xerxes coincides with her ascension to the rank of admiral in the Persian king’s navy. In a series of vignettes, any officer or official of the court who remotely looks as if they will present a challenge to her rise in power is deftly dispatched.

300-Rise-of-an-Empire-Queen-Artemisia-HRFantasy portrayal of Queen Artemesia of Halicarnassus (as portrayed by French actress Eva Green) and Persian Immortal guards (Source: Payvand News). The movie not only distorts the attire and equipment of Artemesia and the Immortal Guards, it also presents a caricature image of both Greeks and Persians in antiquity. For more on this topic of false portrayals, kindly see Farrokh’s “The 300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction“.

In what is perhaps one of the most implausible scenarios from this latest motion picture, Xerxes I (Rodrigo Santoro), as a result of Artemisia’s Machiavellian maneuvering, plays a subordinate role and is essentially emasculated in the process. Furthermore, historicity continues to suffer when the queen in another moment of bravado and posturing declares “I will attack the Greeks…with my entire navy.” While this rhetoric may fit into the context of the movie, in reality her fleet was so proportionately small relative to that of the entire Persian armada of 600 plus vessels that it is highly improbable that she could have had a major impact on either of the naval battles of Artemisium (August 480 BCE) or Salamis.

Pic6-Ach-NavalVessels-PhotoReconstruction of Achaemenid ships in 1971; for more see Farrokh’s “The 300 Movie: Separating Fact from Fiction“.

There is one bright spot in the film which begins with the Battle of Marathon (490 BCE) and ends with the Battle of Salamis. It is the image of the construction of the two bridges over the Hellespont (modern day Dardanelles), which enabled Xerxes’ army to march from Abydos to Sestos. Measuring a distance which has been conservatively estimated at approximately 1,400 yards, while spanning over the Hellespont’s turbulent waters, these structures are considered one of ancient history’s greatest engineering achievements.


Part Four of the History Channel program “Engineering an Empire: The Persians; this section discusses Xerxes’ construction of the bridge over Bosphorus, linking Europe with Asia.

The battles and several of the combatants featured in “300: Rise of an Empire” have been chronicled by ancient historians, as was the three-day naval engagement at Artemisium. As one of the focal segments of the film, it was fought concurrently, on the same days as the conflict at Thermopylae. However, the fighting at Thermopylae is not depicted, only its aftermath is included. Apparently the studio felt compelled to reference the death of King Leonidas and the Spartans during the last stand since it would validate the application of the “300” moniker in the follow-up film’s title. Furthermore, Noam Murro, who succeeded Zack Snyder as director, continued linearly with his predecessor’s visual style. Unfortunately, “300: Rise of an Empire” also maintains the same approach for rendering much of what is shown on the screen as caricature.

New Book by Andrew James: Blood of Kings

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Andrew James’ new book “Blood of Kings” has captured the very spirit of the Ancient Achaemenids.  Thanks to James’ deep understanding and appreciation of the ancient Achaemenid Empire, he literally takes the reader back in time to the Persians of old.

BLOOD OF KINGS coverjpgAndrew James’ book “Blood of Kings” is available from Amazon, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Kobo, Apple iTunes and other online stores.

“Blood of Kings” is a highly recommended historical novel for students of ancient history. James has succeeded in providing a balanced view of the ancient Persians, one that goes past Eurocentric views and even Orientalism – this results in the reader seeing a more human side of ancient Persia.

Cyrus-Babylon[Click to Enlarge] A painting of Cyrus the Great-کوروش بزرگ- as he enters Babylon (Picture Source: Mani-Persepolis.nu). Cyrus’ arrival occurred just as the inhabitants of Babylon were engaged in celebrations and festivals, as corroborated by Greek sources (Herodotus, I, 19; Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 7. 5.15). The Nabonidus Chronicle also states that “Cyrus entered Babylon…the state of peace was imposed on all the city, Cyrus sent greetings to all Babylon” (Nabonidus Chronicle, III, 12-22). The inhabitants of Babylon-city are recorded as having laid branches before Cyrus as he entered through the city gates. To learn more, click here…

Set against the backdrop of Persia’s invasion of Egypt in 525 BC, Blood of Kings tells the story of the death of Cyrus the Great, the succession and death of Cambyses, and Darius the Great’s rise to power. Inspired by the magnificence of the ancient Persian Empire, it is one of very few books in Western literature to be written from a Persian point of view, with the story being told largely through the eyes of Darius himself. Whereas many Western writers paint an unfair picture of the ancient Persians, Andrew James has depicted them truthfully, showing them to be by far the most advanced nation of their day.

Part Three of History Channel Program “Engineering an Empire: The Persians” (2006). This section discusses Darius the Great’s Royal Road, the Battle of Marathon, digging of the canal between the Red Sea (ancient Arabian Gulf) and Mediterranean Sea, and the building of the bridge over Bosphorus. For the entire History Channel program see:  Engineering an Empire -آغاز یک امپراطوری – هخامنشیان-

Andrew was born in London and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College, Oxford, before practicing for twelve years as counsel at the English Bar. Visiting Iran in 2005 and 2007 he was captivated by the beauty and sophistication of Persepolis, and by the highly advanced culture it revealed. After learning of the size of the Persian Empire, Andrew decided he wanted to know more about these ancient Achaemenid warriors, whose armies conquered on three continents, including Europe.

akenakes-achaemenid-dr-khorasani1[Click to Enlarge] Achaemenid Akenakes. Note the lion and ram motifs on this finely crafted weapon, both symbols of ancient Iran (Copyright of Dr. Manouchehr M. Khorasani, 2006 – for more see here… and his Facebook page).

Reading a translation of the Bisitun Inscription while standing beneath the great carving James was gripped by the drama of Darius’s account, and was inspired to retell the story in a novel. Andrew then set off to follow the probable line of march of Cambyses’s army across the desert to Siwa Oasis in Egypt, and in 2008 he gave up his career at the Bar to move to the desert, where he spent three years researching and writing his first novel, Blood of Kings.

The Wall of JerusalemThe West Wall in Jerusalem. After his conquest of Babylon, Cyrus the Great-کوروش بزرگ- allowed the Jewish captives to return to Israel and rebuild the Hebrew temple. It is believed that approximately 40,000 did permanently return to Israel. To learn more, click here…

To write Blood of Kings Andrew spent several years researching ancient Persian history and military affairs, including several visits to the National Museum in Tehran and smaller museums around Iran. The book not only makes a thrilling read for lovers of historical adventure, but also sympathetically portrays ancient Persian culture and life. Blood of Kings has received such a warm welcome from Iranian readers around the world, that Andrew has already received an offer from a respected publisher in Tehran to translate it into Persian.

Bagh e Eram of ShirazA descendant of Cyrus the Great’s Gardens at ancient Pasargadae: The Garden of Eram at Shiraz, one of those Persian Gardens in Iran declared as UNESCO heritage sites (Photo provided to Kavehfarrokh.com by Mani Moradi).

Tribute to Babylonian God Marduk discovered at Persepolis

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

The Voice of America Persian Service has reported that a joint Iranian-Italian archaeological team has discovered at Persepolis a sample of brickwork depicting the Babylonian God Marduk (see report in Persian here…- complete Persian text available below this posting). Ali-Reza Asghari Chavoshi, a professor at the University of Shiraz and head of the Iranian wing of the archaeological exploration team (علیرضا عسگری چاووشی، استاد دانشگاه شیراز و رئیس ایرانی هیئت کاوش) noted the following points to the Cultural Heritage (میراث فرهنگی) organization:

1) -نماد ایزد مردوک و دیگر نقش های این بنا بعد از کورش دیگر در هنر هخامنشی دیده نشده است- the portrayal of the god Marduk and other forms at this post-Cyrus site has not been seen in Achaemenid arts.

Marduk Patron God of Babylon[Click to Enlarge] A Snake-Dragon image-symbol of Marduk, the Patron God of Babylon (Panel of glazed earthenware bricks, Ishtar Gate, c. 604-562 BCE; Picture source: Detroit Institute of Arts). Instead of plunder and destruction, like the former kings of the preceding Assyrian Empire, Cyrus paid homage to the local Babylonian god Marduk and ensured that no looting, plunder or destruction took place in that ancient city. 

2) در زمانی که کورش در سال۵۳۹ پیش از میلاد بابل را فتح کرد، کاهنان بابلی ایزد مردوک را به عنوان بزرگ -ایزد آسمان ها و زمین می پرستیدند و در آن زمان به دلیل ثروت و قدرت بابل، این ایزد قدرتمند ترین ایزدان بین النهرین بود. باستان شناسان احتمال می دهند که پس از فتح بابل، کورش، در ادامه سیاست رواداری فرهنگی و مذهبی خود، به کاهنان بابلی اجازه داد که نیایش گاه خود را در تخت جمشید، که مرکز سیاسی هخامنشیان بود، بناکنند و عده ای از هنرمندان و معماران بابلی را برای بنای معبد پرستش مردوک به تخت جمشید آورد-Summary statement: When Cyrus the Great (r. 559-530 BCE) conquered Babylon in 539 BCE … historians surmise that in the continuation of his policy of religious and cultural tolerance, Cyrus allowed Babylonian artisans/craftsmen to build a worship center for their God Marduk at Persepolis.

Wailing-WallThe West Wall in Jerusalem. After his conquest of Babylon, Cyrus allowed the Jewish captives to return to Israel and rebuild the Hebrew temple. It is believed that approximately 40,000 did permanently return to Israel. For more see here…

This astonishing find is yet another indication of the policy of religious and cultural tolerance practiced by the Achaemenid Empire till its final days before the invasions of Alexander (356-323 BCE).

tomb-of-cyrus-the-great-at-pasargardaeThe Tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae  where Alexander paid his respects. The tomb is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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پیش برای شناسایی شهر پارسه، در پاسارگاد به حفاری های باستان شناسی در اطراف تخت جمشید دست زده بودند موفق به کشف بنایی منحصر به فرد از دوران کورش هخامنشی شدند. به گزارش خبرگزاری میراث فرهنگی این هیئت در جریان کاوش های خود در سه سال پیش به تلی آجری برخوردند و حفاری در آن را آغاز کردند.

تل آجری در واقع بنای باستانی بزرگی ست بازمانده از دوران هخامنشیان که در سومین دوره کاوش های باستان شناسی این هیئت در نزدیکی تخت جمشید کشف شده است. علیرضا عسگری چاووشی، استاد دانشگاه شیراز و رئیس ایرانی هیئت کاوش در تل آجری به خبرگزاری میراث فرهنگی گفته است این بنا از خشت و آجر است که خشت ها در داخل دیوارها و آجرهای لعاب دار در نمای خارجی دیوار ها به کار رفته اند و آجرها با لعاب ها و نقش های حیوانات افسانه ای تزئین شده اند. به گفته آقای عسگری «این بنای شگفت انگیز حداقل ۳۳ در ۳۳ متر است و در ساخت آن هزاران آجر لعاب دار به کار رفته است». او ضخامت دیوارهای این بنا را ۱۰ متر اعلام کرده و گفته است:« کشف چنین بنایی با این عظمت، حجم و تعداد آجرهای لعاب دار در منطقه فارس بی نظیر است». به گفته او در این بنا کتیبه ای به خط میخی اکدی بابلی نیز به دست آمده است.

به گفته آقای عسگری آجرهای لعاب دار این بنا دارای نقش هایی از اسطوره های ایران باستان و بین النهرین باستان است به طوری که حتی قالب هایی که برای تزئین نقش ها بر آجرها به کار رفته اند با قالب و نقش هایی که برآجرهای لعابدار دروازه معبد ایشتار در بابل به کار رفته یک سان است. شواهدی ازوجود نقش موشخوشو، نماد ایزد مردوک، گل های لوتوس شانزده پر، و روش ها و فنون تزئین آجرها، رنگ ها و نقش ها و استفاده از قیر برای محافظت آجرها، همه حکایت از آن دارند که این بنا در دوره کورش هخامنشی ساخته شده است. نماد ایزد مردوک و دیگر نقش های این بنا بعد از کورش دیگر در هنر هخامنشی دیده نشده است.

رئیس گروه ایرانی هیئت باستان شناسان می گوید در زمانی که کورش در سال۵۳۹ پیش از میلاد بابل را فتح کرد، کاهنان بابلی ایزد مردوک را به عنوان بزرگ -ایزد آسمان ها و زمین می پرستیدند و در آن زمان به دلیل ثروت و قدرت بابل، این ایزد قدرتمند ترین ایزدان بین النهرین بود. باستان شناسان احتمال می دهند که پس از فتح بابل، کورش، در ادامه سیاست رواداری فرهنگی و مذهبی خود، به کاهنان بابلی اجازه داد که نیایش گاه خود را در تخت جمشید، که مرکز سیاسی هخامنشیان بود، بناکنند و عده ای از هنرمندان و معماران بابلی را برای بنای معبد پرستش مردوک به تخت جمشید آورد.

به نظر باستان شناسان این بنای مذهبی پس از کورش در دوران داریوش اول نیز تحمل می شده اما در دوران خشایارشا و با تمرکز شاهان هخامنشی بر پرستش ایزد اهورمزدا رفته رفته رو به تعطیل گذاشته و پس از هخامنشیان تخریب و غارت شده است. هرچند که هنوز به سبب وجود نکته های مبهم و ناشناخته فراوان ابراز هر گونه نظرگاه قاطع درباره سرگذشت این بنارا زود می دانند.

 

به گفته کارشناسان چاله هایی که در میان دیوار ها و در داخل عمارت وجود دارد حکایت از حفاری های پی درپی به منظور سرقت آجرها دارد. تا جایی که بخش عمده ای از آجرها مفقود و غارت شده اند.

 

به نوشته میراث فرهنگی، سرپرستی تیم باستان شناسان ایتالیایی برعهده پیر فرانچسکو کالیری از دانشگاه بولونیاست. این کاوش ها بخشی از پژوهش های باستان شناسی شهر پارسه است که با همکاری مشترک پژوهشگاه باستان شناسی، پژوهشکده باستان شناسی سازمان میراث فرهنگی، بنیاد پژوهشی پارسه پاسارگاد، سازمان میراث فرهنگی فارس و دانشگاه بولونیای ایتالیا انجام می شود.

The Princetonian: Petition challenges Pourdavoud Chair candidate

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

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.”

Historical Novels by Gordon Doherty

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Gordon Doherty is a Scottish writer, who describes himself as being addicted to reading and writing historical fiction, a task for which he is certainly highly accomplished.

mugshotHistorical writer Gordon Doherty

Gordon Doherty’s most recent book “Legionary: land of the Sacred Fire” is of keen interest to readers of Sassanian Military history as it deals with the Romano-Byzantine’s Eastern frontier with the Sassanian Empire.

Legionary_Land of the Sacred Fire_pb [Click to Enlarge] Gordon Doherty (2013). Land of the Sacred Fire. Available through Amazon.

The book is set in 377 CE, just as Emperor Valens has stripped the Sassanian-Persian frontier of its legions, sending every available man to Thracia in an effort to contain the rampaging Gothic hordes. This allows the Sassanian leadership in Ctesiphon to cast their gaze upon Rome’s trade-rich but (now) weakly-defended  desert provinces. Shapur II (309-379 CE), Shahanshah (King of Kings) of the Sassanid Empire and his many client Shahan (kings) have long challenged Rome’s eastern holdings as theirs by ancestral right, and those lands have never been more vulnerable to a powerful Sassanian military strike. Thus, Valens must grasp at the slimmest of hopes that a Sassanian invasion can be staved off, not by the brute force of absent legions, but by the tenacity of a hardy few.

Julian's failed invasion of Persia in 363 AD[CLICK TO ENLARGE]- Emperor Julian is killed during his failed invasion of Sassanian Persia in June 26, 363 AD. Above is a recreation of  Sassanian Persia’s elite cavalry, the Savaran, as they would have appeared during Julian’s failed invasion.  Note the heavily armored Sassanian elite guardsman (Pushtighban) whose lance has pierced a Roman infantryman. Further right is a Savaran officer whose sword is drawn in what is now known as the “Italian grip” but Sassanian in origin. To the far right can be seen a Zoroastrian or Mithraist Magus brandishing a Sassanian era symbol. Also of interest are the armored elephants in the background. Armored elephants featured elevated cabs over the battlefield, allowing for more effective Sassanian archery (Picture source: Farrokh, Plate D, -اسواران ساسانی- Elite Sassanian cavalry, 2005).

When Optio Numerius Vitellius Pavo and a select group of the XI Claudia are summoned to the Persian front, they leave Thracia behind, knowing little of what awaits them. They know only that they are to march into a land of strange gods. They whisper tales of the mighty Persian Savaran cavalry and pray to Mithras they will see their homes and families again. All too soon it becomes clear to them that this is no ordinary mission – indeed, the very fate of the empire might rest upon their efforts. But for Pavo the burden is weightier still, for he knows that the east also holds something even more precious to him . . . the truth about his father.

Gordon’s love of history was piqued during spells living and working close to both Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall, sites of rich history winding back through thousands of years. The later Roman Empire and Byzantium hold a particular fascination for Gordon.

Gordon’s Legionary series is set in the Eastern Roman Empire circa 376 AD and follows the adventures of the border legions as the empire begins to waver under the relentless crush of the empire’s enemies, namely the formidable armies of the Sassanians from the east and the menacing Germanic warriors to the north.

Gordon’s Strategos trilogy is set around the build up to the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 AD and follows the dark and troubled life of a Byzantine general in a land riven with bloodshed and doubt.

Strategos-Rise of the Golden Heart-6by9n[Click to Enlarge] Gordon Doherty (2013). Strategos: Rise of the Golden Heart. FeedARead. Available through Amazon.

All of of Gordon’s novels are available from good online stores in paperback and eBook format. Just click on any one of them on the slideshow (left) to find out more.

In the coming years Gordon endeavors to provide his readers with more writings about these eras and to explore antiquity to the full. So, as long as the ideas keep coming to Gordon, there will be many more books to enjoy.