Online Review: Book

L'archéologie du Fars à l'époque hellénistique: Quatre leçons au Collége de France 8, 15, 22 et 29 mars 2007

By Pierfrancesco Callieri. Pp. 177, figs. 100. De Boccard, Paris 2007. €48. ISBN 978-2-7018-0228-2 (paper).


Callieri provides a well-documented, thoughtful, and comprehensive survey of Fars province during the post-Achaemenid, pre-Sasanian centuries in which the region was subject to Macedonian, Seleucid, and finally Parthian domination. Originally delivered as a series of four lectures at the Collège de France, the published text retains the same structure. The approach taken, however, is not to provide a straightforward historical narrative coupled with a geographically organized or chronological overview of sites, monuments, and finds. Rather, Callieri has adopted a much more interesting mode of setting out his thoughts: Leçon 1: "Habitats anciens et fondations hellénistiques du plateau iranien: Les témoignages littéraires, épigraphiques et archéologiques concernant la région du Fārs" (11–48); Leçon 2: "Bâtiments religieux et cultes de l'Iran à l'époque hellénistique" (49–86); Leçon 3: "L'apport hellénistique à la production artistique et artisanale du Fārs, des Achéménides aux Sassanides" (87–114); and Leçon 4: "Le Fārs sous les règnes des souverains locaux: Les témoignages archéologiques et épigraphiques" (115–46).

In addition to discussing historical problems of broad interest to a wide variety of archaeologists, ancient historians, and classicists, Callieri brings a wealth of unpublished or largely inaccessible archaeological material from Fars to bear on his treatment of the region. Much of this is illustrated, and the majority can only be seen by visiting Iran, and even then with considerable difficulty. Many of the finds illustrated are not in museums. Some are still at their findspots, others in the courtyards of municipal authorities. To say that Callieri has performed an invaluable service by discussing and illustrating such material, much of it for the first time in the West, is an understatement. For this reason alone his book is essential reading for anyone interested in post-Achaemenid Iranian archaeology.

The bibliography is excellent and represents an important resource for all scholars working on this period in Iran. A few other relevant titles may be added. For an early but still valuable treatment of this period in Iran's history, see von Gutschmid, Geschichte Irans und seiner Nachbarländer von Alexander dem Grossen bis zum Untergang der Arsaciden (Tübingen 1888). To the discussion of the toponyms in Fars preserved by the Tabula Peutingeriana should be added the complementary material contained in the Cosmographia of Ravennas Anonymus (see J. Schnetz, Ravennas Anonymus: Cosmographia, eine Erdbeschreibung um das Jahr 700 [Uppsala 1951] esp. 24–6). On Antioch-in-Persis, see Piejko, RivStorAnt 17–18 (1987–1988), 179–84. On Alexander's conquest of Persis, see Atkinson, A Commentary on Q. Curtius Rufus' Historiae Alexandri Magni Books 5 to 7.2 (Amsterdam 1999). For the route followed, and more generally for the route across Fars from Persepolis to the west, see MacDermot and Schippmann, IrAnt 34 (1999) 283–308, and Speck, AJAH n.s. 1/1 (2002) 7–234. On Greek inscriptions at Persepolis, see also Bernard, StIr 1 (1972) 165–76. On Seleucid political institutions in Iran, see Wolski, ActaArchHung 25 (1977) 149–56, and "L'hellénisme et l'Iran," in Mactoux and Geny, eds., Mélanges Pierre Lévêque 2, Anthropologie et société (Paris 1989), 439–46. An important work that probably appeared too late for inclusion in the discussion is Capdetrey, Le pouvoir séleucide: Territoire, administration, finances d'un royaume hellénistique (312–129 avant J.-C.) (Rennes 2007).

The one weakness of this work is the absence of an index. This would have increased its utility immeasurably. Having said that, the volume is a fine addition to the growing list of titles in the Persika series, edited by Briant. One can only hope that the interest it is bound to stimulate in the archaeology of Fars for the post-Achaemenid period will be matched by an increased level of archaeological activity focusing on that time frame. Callieri's work demonstrates, if nothing else, that the surface of this subject has barely been scratched. The sites are there, awaiting investigation, and this book will serve as an invaluable road map to anyone interested in the Hellenistic period in Fars.

Daniel T. Potts
Department of Archaeology
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1132.Potts

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