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tudies in Economic and Social

History of the Ancient Near East
in Memory of Pter Vargyas
| Ancient Near Eastern
and Mediterranean Studies |
Volume 2

series editors
zoltn csabai
department of ancient history
tibor grll
department of ancient history

the university of pcs, hungary lharmattan hungary

tudies in Economic and
Social History of
the Ancient Near East in
Memory of Pter Vargyas

edited by: zoltn csabai

Department of Ancient History, The University of Pcs

lharmattan, budapest
Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Studies
edited by Zoltn Csabai and Tibor Grll

Volume 2

The University of Pcs

The Hungarian Society for Ancient Studies.

The editorial work was supported by the European Union and the State
of Hungary, co-nanced by the European Social Fund in the framework of
TMOP-4.2.4.A/ 2-11/1-2012-0001 National Excellence Program.

Authors, 2014
Zoltn Csabai, 2014
LHarmattan, 2014

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in

a retrival system, or transmitted in any form or by any means for example,
electronic, photocopy, recording without the prior written permission of
the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
pter vargyas (1950 2009)
Table of Contents

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
In memory of Pter Vargyas (19502009)
Lszl Trk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Publications of Pter Vargyas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25


Le prix de rachat des captifs daprs les archives palo-babyloniennes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Dominique Charpin

Les problmes conomiques dun sheich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

Jean-Marie Durand

On Old Babylonian Palastgeschft in Larsa. The meaning of stum

and the circulation of silver in state/private business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Zsombor Fldi

The Sumerian verb ug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

Szilvia Jka-Svegjrt

Groe private Haushalte in der altbabylonischen Zeit in

der Mittlerrolle zwischen Knigtum und Untertanen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
Gbor Kalla

From Agade to Samaria: The Inationary Price of Barley in Situations of Famine . . . . . . 167
Jacob Klein
8 Table of Contents

Les clauses en tukum-bi dans les textes de prt de lpoque dUr III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
Bertrand Lafont

Le rle conomique des dattes dans lgypte du Nouvel Empire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199

Bernadette Menu

Some questions of prices, metals and money in Old Assyriology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217

Zoltn Plfi

From Counting to Writing: The Quest for Abstraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227

Denise Schmandt-Besserat

Aspekte einer Sozialgeschichte der sptfrhdynastischen Zeit. Das Beispiel Lagas,

oder: The inhabited ghosts of our intellectual ancestors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
Gebhard J. Selz

Eighteen Cuneiform Inscriptions from the Ur III and Old-Babylonian Periods . . . . . . . . 283
Marcel Sigrist and Uri Gabbay

Alaian products in Hittite sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317

Itamar Singer (ZL) and Graciela Gestoso Singer

Zulapi eine Grossmacht im sptbronzezeitlichen Syrien? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337

Bla Stipich

The semantics of verbal plurality in Sumerian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 355

Blint Tanos

Silver in Old Assyrian Trade. Shapes, Qualities and Purication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 393

Klaas R. Veenhof

Understanding Economic Growth: The Importance of Money

in Economic History and Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 423
David A. Warburton
Table of Contents 9


Jenseits der assyrischen Grenze. Das Bild des Feindes in

den neuassyrischen Knigsinschriften . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 485
Tams K. rvai

Interpretation of a medical commentary text BAM 401 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 503

Andrs Bcskay

Elements of the Royal Ideology in Urartian Texts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 521

Attila Buhly

Did Seleucid kings impose payments made only in fresh coins

of their own coinages? Units of account, not real coins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 531
Franois de Callata

The Economic Determination of the Changing Interests. A Survey Based on

the Loan Documents of the Neo-Babylonian Sn-uballi/ Archive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 557
Henrietta Cseke

Documentary Evidence on Wine from the Eanna Temple Archives in Uruk . . . . . . . . . 579
Muhammad A. Dandamayev

Babyloniaca from Qumran Mesopotamian lore in Qumran Aramaic texts . . . . . . . . . 587

Ida Frhlich

Les marchands msopotamiens et la thorie des jeux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 603

Laetitia Graslin-Thom

Expositio totius mundi et gentium. A peculiar work on the commerce of Roman Empire
from the mid-fourth century compiled by a Syrian textile dealer? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 629
Tibor Grll

Die datio in solutum in neubabylonischer Zeit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 643

Alessandro Hirata

A Late Babylonian Astrological Tablet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 657

Hermann Hunger
10 Table of Contents

Neues zur Verwendung von mahir im Eanna-Archiv eine Anomalie? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 671

Bojana Jankovi und Michaela Weszeli

Sptbabylonische Sklavenpreise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 683

Joachim Oelsner

A Sasanian taxation list or an Early Islamic booty? A Medieval Persian source

and the Sasanian taxation system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 701
Mikls Srkzy

Remarks on the Anatolian Background of the Tel Reov Bees and

the Historical Geography of the Luwian States in the 10th c. BC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 715
Zsolt Simon

Greeks on Phoenicians. Can we rely on what the Greeks have said? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 739
Lszl Vilmos

Double Family Names in Neo-Babylonian Records: The Case of the iru

and biu Families and Their Butchers Prebends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 751
Cornelia Wunsch

Neo-Assyrian krus in the Zagros . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 789

dm Vr

Chronologische Aspekte der babylonischen Zinsen in der frhneubabylonischen

und neubabylonischen Zeit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 811
Zoltn Csabai

Databasing the Commodity Chits of the Idumean Ostraca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 825

Bezalel Porten

Family, friends, colleagues and all those who knew them stood bereft of speech
following the deaths of Pter Vargyas and va Darvas, and were trying to make sense
of the personal tragedy of these two wonderful people, looking for ways to alleviate
the pain their absence had caused. It was only several months later that we realized
the irretrievable loss Hungarian Assyriology had suered. Pter Vargyas had been
the rst and until today only Doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences within
the discipline, whose excellence was acknowledged by both the domestic and the
international scholarly community. We had been robbed of a scientist with a number
of friends in the eld, with formidable international experience, and a wide range of
connections in the discipline all over the world.
He was a charismatic gure of Hungarian Assyriology, who prioritized the quality
and the far-reaching, valuable results of research. He always underlined the researchers
objectivity, and stressed the equality of the participants of a debate. This is the attitude
that students at university, and young scholars at domestic academic programs could
learn from him, and this won him recognition outside Hungary, as his numerous
invitations to international events testify. He intended to use the innovative experiences
gathered during his study trips abroad in Hungary as well, but these intentions
were sadly not always well-received. The two decades spent at two major Hungarian
universities nevertheless have left their mark. The Department of Ancient History at
the University of Pcs will attempt to carry on this scholarly and spiritual legacy.
Three research topics stood out from the diverse elds that Pter Vargyass work
touched upon. These were the society and economy of Ugarit, the history of Babylonian
prices, and the monetary history of the Ancient Near East. When we rst contemplated
producing a memorial volume in honour of his scholarly work, these were the areas
12 Foreword

that came to mind, so we asked the authors to choose their essay topics, if possible,
within the broader area of Ancient Near Eastern economic and social history. We hope
we have succeeded in assembling a volume that reects adequately on Pter Vargyas
scholarly career.
We would like to thank all the authors of the essays dedicated to the memory of Pter
Vargyas, who accepted our call and enriched these volumes with their contributions.
We are especially grateful for the patience they displayed during the prolonged
editing process. Sadly two of our collaborators could not live to see the publication
of the volumes. We learned with great sadness of the death of Itamar Singer in 2012,
who repeatedly expressed his support for our eorts, and always oered us words of
encouragement when we needed them most. It is also with great sorrow that we were
informed of the passing of Jnos Everling in spring 2013, who was an exceptionally
talented former student of Pter Vargyas.
The participants, apart from the friends and colleagues of Pter Vargyas, also include
former students who now work at various Hungarian universities: Henrietta Cseke
(Kodolnyi Jnos University of Applied Sciences), Andrs Bcskay (Pzmny Pter
Catholic University), Mikls Srkzy (Kroli Gspr University of the Hungarian
Reformed Church), and the editor of this volume (University of Pcs). He also supported
and encouraged several young talents, beginning in the 1980s, many of whom are today
internationally known academics in the eld of Assyriology.
There is not enough space to thank all the supporters and helpers who facilitated our
work, yet we would like to express our gratitude to dm Vr and Vera Benczik for their
continual assistance. We would also like to extend our thanks to Blint Tanos, who in
the autumn of 2012 substantially contributed to the editorial and pre-printing work
of the rst volume. I would like to thank Pter Vargyas brother, Gbor Vargyas for his
patience and the support he oered for our work in the past more than two years. Finally
I would like to extend my thanks to LHarmattan Hungary Publishers for accepting
the work into their Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Studies series, and for
facilitating the publication process with oering us their infrastructure.

Z. Cs.
A bbreviations

Abbreviated titles of editions of cuneiform texts and of assyriological journals are those
used in the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, but note:

AAAH Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae

ABAW NF Abhandlungen der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Neue Folge
ADFU Ausgrabungen der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft in Uruk-Warka
AfO Archiv fr Orientforschung
AHw Wolfram von Soden: Akkadisches Handwrterbuch. 13 Bnde. Wiesbaden, 19651981.
AJA American Journal of Archaeology
AJSL American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures
ALASPM Abhandlungen zur Literatur Alt-Syrien-Palstinas und Mesopotamiens
AMI Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran
ANEMS Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Studies
ANESS Ancient Near Eastern Studies Supplement
AnOr Analecta Orientalia
AnSt Anatolian Studies
AOAT Alter Orient und Altes Testament
AoF Altorientalische Forschungen
ArOr Archiv Orientln
ARM Archives Royales de Mari
AS Assyriological Studies
ASAE Annales du service des antiquits de lgypte
ASSF Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae
26 Studies in Social and Economic History of the Ancient Near East

AUWE Ausgrabungen in Uruk-Warka Endberichte

BA Beitrge zur Assyriologie
BabAr Babylonische Archive
BBVO Berliner Beitrge zum Vorderen Orient
BIN Babylonian Inscriptions in the Collection of James B. Nies
BiOr Bibliotheca Orientalis
BaM Baghdader Mitteilungen
BM cuneiform tablets in the collection of the British Museum, London
BPOA Biblioteca del Prximo Oriente Antiguo
BRM Babylonian records in the Library of J. Pierpont Morgan
CAD The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Chicago,
CDA Black, J. George, A. Postgate, N. 2000: A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian,
CDOG Colloquien der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft
CHANE Culture and History of the Ancient Near East
CHD The Hittite Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Chicago 1989
CM Cuneiform Monographs
CT Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum
CTH Laroche, E. 1971: Catalogue des textes hittites. Paris.
CTN Cuneiform Texts from Nimrud
CUA cuneiform tablets in the collection of the Catholic University of America
DMOA Documenta et Monumenta Orientis Antiqui
DTC Ankara niversitesi Dil ve tarih-Corafya Fakltesi Dergisi
EAH Entretiens dArchologie et dHistoire
ePSD Electronic version of the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary.
FAOS Freiburger Altorientalische Studien
GMTR Guides to the Mesopotamian Textual Record
HANES History of the Ancient Near East, Studies
HdO Handbuch der Orientalistik
HSAO Heidelberger Studien zum Alten Orient
IBoT Istanbul Arkeoloji Mzelerinde Bulunan Boazky Tabletleri
IEJ Israel Exploration Journal
ISCANEE International Scholars Conference on Ancient Near Eastern Economies
JA Journal Asiatique
Abbreviations 27

JAC Journal of Ancient Civilizations

JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JCS Journal of Cuneiform Studies
JEA The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
JESHO Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient
JNES Journal of Near Eastern Studies
JRAS Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
KUB Keilschrifturkunden aus Boghazki
KBo Keilschrifttexte aus Boghazki, 1916
Kt Sigla of texts from Kltepe (kt) found in krum Kani
LAOS Leipziger Altorientalistische Studien
LAPO Littratures Anciennes du Proche-Orient
LD Lepsius, K.R. Denkmler aus gypten und thiopien, 12 vols. Berlin. 18491859
MBAH Mnstersche Beitrge zur Antiken Handelsgeschichte
MC Mesopotamian Civilization
MDOG Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft
MEFRA Mlanges de lcole franaise de Rome. Antiquit
MSL Materialien zum sumerischen Lexikon; Materials for the Sumerian Lexicon
MVAEG Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatisch-Aegyptischen Gesellschaft
MVN Materiali per il vocabolario neo-sumerico
NABU Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brves et Utilitaires
NEA Near Eastern Archaeology
Nisaba Studi Assiriologici Messinesi
OAA Old Assyrian Archives
OBO Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis
OECT Oxford Editions of Cuneiform Texts
OIP Oriental Institute Publications
OIS Oriental Institute Seminars
OJA Oxford Journal of Archaeology
OLA Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta
OLZ Orientalistische Literaturzeitung
OrSP Orientalia Series Prior
TI kor-Trtnet-rs
PBS Publications of the Babylonian Section, The Museum of the Unviersity of
28 Studies in Social and Economic History of the Ancient Near East

PIHANS Publications de lInstitut historique et archologique nerlandais de Stamboul

PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
PSBA Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology
RA Revue dA ssyriologie et dArchologie Orientale
RB Revue Biblique
RdE Revue dgyptologie
RGTC Rpertoire Gographique des Textes Cuniformes
RIMA The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia. Assyrian Periods
RIMB The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia. Babylonian Periods
RIME The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Early Periods
RINAP The Royal Inscriptions of the Neo-Assyrian Period
RLA Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archologie. Begrndet von E. Ebeling
und B. Meissner, fortgefhrt von E. Wiedner, W. von Soden und D. O. Edzard,
herausgegeben von M. P. Streck, Mnchen, 1928
ROMCT Royal Ontario Museum Cuneiform Texts
SAA State Archives of Assyria
SAAB State Archives of Assyria Bulletin
SAAS State Archives of Assyria Studies
SAK Studien zur Altgyptischen Kultur
SCCNH Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians
SD Studia et Documenta ad Iura Orientis Antiqui Pertinentia
SMEA Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici
StBOT Studien zu den Boazky-Texten
TCL Textes cuniformes du Louvre
TCS Texts from Cuneiform Sources
THeth Texte der Hethiter
TIM Texts in the Iraq Museum
TMH Texte und Materialien der Frau Professor Hilprecht Collection
UAVA Untersuchungen zur Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archologie.
Ergnzungsbnde zu Zeitschrift fr Assyriologie und vorderasitische Archologie
UCP University of California Publications in Semitic Philology
UET Ur Excavations Texts
VS Vorderasiatische Schriftsdenkmler
WAW Writings from Ancient World
WdO Die Welt des Orients
WOO Wiener Oene Orientalistik
Abbreviations 29

WVDOG Wissenschaftliche Verentlichungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft

YBC cuneiform tablets in the Yale Babylonian Collection
YOS Yale Oriental Series, Babylonian Texts
ZA Zeitschrift fr Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archologie
ZAR Zeitschrift fr altorientalische und biblische Rechtsgeschichte
ZS Zeitschrift fr gyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde
ZDPV Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palstina-Vereins
ZDMG Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlndischen Gesellschaft
ZSSR Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung fr Rechtsgeschichte


A Sasanian taxation list or an Early
Islamic booty? A Medieval Persian
source and the Sasanian taxation system
Kroli Gspr University of Reformed Church of Hungary, Budapest


The author would like to dedicate this humble essay to the memory of his teacher, the
late Pter Vargyas. I remember the classes of his, which I attended some 17 years ago
as a student of history; they had an enduring inuence on me, thus inspiring my rst
steps in the study of the ancient Near East. Beside his scholarly approach, his sincere
personality and friendly comments also encouraged me to continue my studies in the
eld of Iranian studies.



The present paper aims at throwing light on a less known Islamic source, containing
important materials on the taxation of the Sasanian Empire. This brief but hitherto
lesser known source belongs to the Trkh-i )abaristn of Ibn Isfandyr, an important
medieval source of Wabaristn.
Among the old historical regions, Wabaristn a Northern Iranian province situated
not far from the Caspian sea, a montainous and hardly accessible area due to its
humid and unfriendly climate - was the last area to resist the armies of the Caliphate
succesfully. The conquest of Wabaristn was a slow process lasting for more than a
century after the initial victories of the Arabs over the Sasanians in the rst half of the
seventh century AD. The nal conquest of Wabaristn took place in the second half of
the 8th century during the reign of al-Man^r in 761.1
Vasmer 1927: 86150;Vasmer Bosworth 1991: 935942; Rabino di Borgomale 1936: 397474;
Madelung 1975: 198226; Bosworth 1968: 1202.
702 Mikls Srkzy

As far as the history of Wabaristn is concerned, the earliest extant local historical
source of this region is the Trkh-i )abaristn. It was written by a certain Ibn Isfandyr,
himself a courtier of the petty local dynasty of the Bwandids. Its text was compiled in
the rst decades of the 13th century AD. The Trkh-i )abaristn contains a number of
archaic elements which, though their character are often mythical or of epic origin, but
in many ways - contribute to the understanding of successes achieved by early Islamic
dynasties, such as the Byids and Ziyrids in the 1011th centuries.
In the Trkh-i )abaristn one can certainly attest strong echoes of pre-Islamic or
Sasanian nostalgy. Apart from Pre-Islamic inuences which are directly linked with
the Sasanian past, we can nd epic novels, heroic battles where mighty local princes
fought their Muslim opponents (or sometimes other local dynasts) valiantly, we nd
magnicent descriptions of lavish hunting stories and coronation scenes where again
the glory of the Sasanian Empire seems to have been preserved for later generations.2
The Sasanians have a strong impact on their later Caspian admirers but besides these
legends it is extremely dicult to show the direct contact between the once powerful
Sasanian kings and the much smaller Caspian rulers, let alone to nd real historical
documents to connect the two periods.3



One of the few materials found in the Trkh-i )abaristn, which suggest more than
echoing Sasanian inspired heroic scenes, is a short text found in the rst part of Ibn
Isfandyrs work. This brief account belongs to the the story of the struggles of the
Abbasid Caliph al-Man^r (754775) and his local opponentIsfahbad 4 Khurd (741
761/766)5 of the Dbyid dynasty6 dating back to the year 759, just before Wabaristn
was nally subdued by the armies of the Abbasid caliphate.
For the tenacious survival of various pre-Islamic myths and legend in Wabaristn see: Srkzy
2008: 2136;
Lambton 1991: 227238; Melville 2000: 4591.
Ispahbad or Isfahbad in its Arabicized form is a local title of various rulers of Wabaristn. Meaning
simply army chief In Pre-Islamic times it was also the name a local Parthian-Sasanian family
(Sphhad). The question how a military and dynastical title was gradually changed and used as
a local royal title for many centuries is still waits to be discussed.
Albeit Khurd was defeated in 761 nally by the armies of Caliph al-Man^r his coins were minted
until 766. Madelung 1993.
The Dbyids (651761/766) were the rst indenpendent dynasty of Wabaristn after the collapse
A Sasanian taxation list or an Early Islamic booty? 703

The story of Khurd and al-Man^r and the process of Islamization of Wabaristn
are beyond the scope of this article, except for one interesting detail, which enlists
goods sent by the local Dbyid ruler to the court of the Abbasid caliph. After having
exchanged dierent envoys, bargaining about the conditions of how to incorporate
Wabaristn into the Abbasid Empire and at the same time how to preserve the semi-
independence of this province headed by the Dbyids from the Abbasid conquering
ambitions, a compromise between the Caliph and the Isfahbad came into being. As
a sign of mutual respect and benevolence, both of them sent each other lavish and
precious presents.
First, the Caliph sent the Isfahbad with a royal crown and a robe of honour; both
of which were presumably of Sasanian style. Isfahbad Khurd, being pleased by these
symbols of honour, also decided to requit the generosity of the Caliph:

(Ibn Isfandyr Trkh-i )abaristn 175.)

Man^r baryi tj-i hanh wa tarf ristd, isfahbad khdil gat wa bar qarr-i
ahd-i Aksira kharj-i Wabaristn bi khalfa ristd: mablagh-i s^ad hazr dirham, bi
adad-i har dirham ahr dng sm-i sipd bd, jma-i sabz-i abram az basx wa bli
ssad t, kutn-i rangn ssad lat, krdnh-i zarrn wa ryn wa lafraj s^ad, zacfarn
ki hama-i duny mil-i n nabd, dah kharwr, anr-i dng-i surkh dah kharwr, mh-i
r dah kharwr, ihil ustur-r n br kardand wa dar sar-i har ustur ghulm turk ya
kanzak binindand.
(Ibn Isfandyr Trkh-i )abaristn 175.)
Man^r sent him a royal crown and robe of honour, and the Isfahbad, being pleased
thereat, send the Court of Baghdad the land tax of Wabaristn according to the age (or
treaty)7, of the Kisras8 (ie. Khusraw I and II). An amount of 300,000 dirhams, each
of the Sasanians. They ruled the whole province of Wabaristn until the Islamic conquest under
Abbasid caliph al- Man^r, which led eventually to their quick fall. After the defeat of the
Dbyids Wabaristn was divided among Arab governors and other emerging local families.
Fort the Dbyids see Madelung 1993.
Ahd can mean both age or treaty in Classical Persian.
Arabic Kisra (pl. Aksira) is derived from Middle Persian Khusraw through a possible
Aramaic inuence.
704 Mikls Srkzy

dirham containing four dangs of white silver;9 300 bales of green silk stu consisting
of pillows10 and carpets; the same amount of good coloured ax; the same amount of
gold- and Ryn and Lafraj woollen garments; ten kharwrs11 of sa ron, which is of
a unique kind all over the world; ten kharwrs of red, good quality pomegranate, ten
kharwrs of salted sh. All this tribute was loaded on forty mules, on each of which was
mounted a Turkic page or a maid.12



The above seen list, being incorporated into the text of Ibn Isfandyrs work, raises a
number of questions. Before making any remarks concerning the real historical value
of this short list, it is important to check up on its authenticity.
The original document reutilized by Ibn Isfandyr, is quite unknown. As for
his language skills, there are no traces that Ibn Isfandyr could have understood or
deciphered Middle Persian documents. He never mentions it and all his transcriptions
suggest that he preferred Arabized forms of Middle Persian names and titles. That is the
reason why we believe that he only used Arabic and Classical Persian sources for his work,
dealing with the history of Wabaristn. Apart from Arabic and Classical Persian, the third
language Ibn Isfandyr was thought to have known, was his own Wabari (Mzandarni)

Sasanian weight dang was a fraction (one-sixth) of the drahm, see Bivar 2010; Gignoux Bates
As for bli, it is well known that it has various meanings. It can be translated as a pillow or
bedding, however there are traces that the notion bli was also used as a weight. The Burhn-i
qBic says: bli is gold to a certain amount, the golden bli is equal 20000 dinars and the silver
bli is equal 200 dinars Burhn-i qBic 225. (translation of the present author from Persian). The
reason why we prefer rather pillow than golden weight as the translation of the word bli, is that
after bli there stands the word basB, which can be a pair of bli as pillow and carpet. The word
basB lacks any similar meaning of a possible weight measure as it was in the case of bli.
As for kharwr it can be translated both as ass-load but according to some linguistic and
historical sources one kharwr weights 300 kilos. Steingass says that kharwr an ass-load; the
measure of a hundred Tabriz maunds. One maund of Tabriz in the 18th century might have been
somewhere between 6,66 and 7,38 English pounds ie. cca 3-3,3 kilos. If we count each kharwr 300
kg then 10 kharwrs will be equal with nearly 3000 kilos. Steingass 1975: 475; Greaves 1991: 369.
For this note I would like to thank my colleague and my former Persian teacher Ms. gnes Nmeth
who brought the double meaning of kharwr to my attention.
My translation is a new one completely avoiding that of E. G. Browne, see Browne 1905: 98.
A Sasanian taxation list or an Early Islamic booty? 705

mother tongue: an Iranian language spoken in some parts of the Caspian region; excerpts
of Wabari poems found in the Trkh-i )abaristn attest this fact.13
On the basis of his Arabic and Classical Persian knowledge, Ibn Isfandyr tried to
collect written materials as much as he could in the archives in mul in the Bwandid
court, as well as in Baghdad and later in Khwrizm14. However, the documents which
were thought to be his foremost sources relating to the pre-Islamic and early-Islamic
period, have remained quite obscure or were simply lost. One of his most famous
ndings is the so called Letter of Tansar:15 a treatise about Sasanian society. It was
originally written in Pahlavi (Middle Persian language), but later it was translated
into Arabic and it was again retranslated into Persian by Ibn Isfandyr. Ibn Isfandyrs
principal source for the late Sasanian period, as well as for the rst decades of the
caliphate was a work of a certain Yazdd. From this Arabic book of Yazdd practically
nothing has survived. On the basis of current knowledge it is highly probable that
Ibn Isfandyr could have quoted the so called Sasanian taxation list from a hitherto
unknown Arabic source or from an indenpendent taxation document found somewhere
in Baghdad or in other urban centres of medieval Persia; which was later completely
Regarding the authenticity of this short taxation, one must note that the measures
and names used in this list all suggest that it could have been derived from an Early
Islamic document, familiar with Sasanian termini technici. The occurrence of old
monetary units of Iranian origin such as drahm (dirham) and dng17 are again reveals
that Ibn Isfandyrs information are probably based on an original document, dating
back to the 8th century. Another indication of a possible Arabicized Sasanian origin of
this document is the use of name lafraj, which is in fact an Arabicized form of the
Middle Persian lafrag, where there is an Arabic j instead of a Late Middle Persian g.18

There are a few poems written in local Wabari language which seems to be a forerunner of present-
day Mzandarni. Yet these poems of the Trkh-i )abaristn wait a more thorough linguistic
Khwrizm and its regional capital Gurganj was overrun by Mongol armies in 1220 and presumably
Ibn Isfandyr perished in this wave of Mongol attacks. We learn from the Trkh-i )abaristn that
the famous Letter of Tansar was also found in the bazar of Gurganj.
Ibn Isfandyr 1320/1941, as for the The Letter of Tansar, see Boyce 1968.
As for the predecessors of Ibn Isfandyr in the local historiography of Wabaristn as well as the
later developments see: Melville 1998: 2023; Melville 2000: 4591.
For the Measure and weights used in Pre-Islamic Iran see: Bivar 2010; Gignoux Bates, 1995.
There many other examples of such a transcription in geographical names, like for example Middle
Persian Gurgn Arabic Jurjn, Middle Persian Gundphr Arabic Jundbr etc.
706 Mikls Srkzy



The second and more dicult problem with this list of Ibn Isfandyr is its relation with
the Sasanian economy and taxation. One may think of a number of questions: does
this list really echo a Sasanian land-tax list? Does the tribute sent by isfahbad Khurd
to Caliph al-Man^r correspond with the former land-tax-rate of the Sasanian Empire
or to what extent can it be accepted as an ocial document dating back to the era of
the Sasanian scal system? Or was this list of isfahbad Khurd a generous present or
booty for only pleasing caliph al-Man^r to avoid somehow the conquest of Wabaristn?19
As to the Sasanian scal system; it is of great importance what Gyselen states:
Attempts at reconstruction of Sasanian economic life and its development founder
on the inadequacy of the sources. On one hand, there is a profusion of information
from a much later period, which should be used with caution; on the other hand, there
is a serious absence of contemporary evidence, both textual (except Syriac texts and
the Talmud) and archeological. Thus the reconstruction must be based on inference in
most instances, though somewhat facilitated by the long-term nature of certain essential
Concerning the goods listed in the text; the most important good mentioned by
Ibn Isfandyr is the silk. As for the production of raw silk; we know it exactly that the
southern coast of the Caspian sea had been the rst and foremost silk producing area
inside Sasanian Iran since the 6th century AD. This is the time (under Khusraw I), when
the new measures of taxation were ocialy introduced and the rst senior ocials of the
Sasanian state arrived to count the date palms and plains in the Iranian countryside.
Wabaristn, this remote Northern province of the Sasanian empire witnessed the rst
ever successful attempts of the Iranian silk industry. The occurence of silk in the list of
Ibn Isfandyr can also be a clear indication that this list reects either a late Sasanian
or an early Islamic provision of Wabaristn.21
The other goods mentioned there are also traditional kinds of goods, produced in
Northern Iran. We do not know exactly what the so called lafraj and ryni garments
mean but their names were borrowed from two well-known ancient towns of Wabaristn:

Vasmer also argues that the list of presents of Khurd is nothing more than only a rich present
for pleasing al-Man^r. Vasmer 1927: 90.
Gyselen 1997.
Ackermann 1955: 3046; Eilers Bazin Bromberger Thompson 1983.
A Sasanian taxation list or an Early Islamic booty? 707

Lafr and Ryn which played an active role in the early Islamic local history of


There have been heated debates concerning the changes of the economical system which
took place in the late Sasanian Empire. As for the list the Trkh-i )abaristn provides
one must be cautious, since it is not exactly clear which period this list could belong
to, however, the usage of name Kisrs refers to the late Sasanian period of Khusraw I
(531579) and Khusraw II (591628).
As for the late Sasanian period, it is well known that there were fundamental changes
in the whole empire, which entirely aected and reshaped the socio-economical, military
institutions of the late Sasanian Empire. These changes were rst initiated by Kawd
I (488531 AD), but were later succesfully implemented by the eorts of Khusraw I
(531579). During his rule the positive results of these brave steps could be seen for the
rst time. The taxation system itself was not exempt from these radical changes. The
new methods included the introduction of a land tax (kharj) and a poll tax (jizya), as
these were called in Arabic in later Islamic sources. After decades of foreign incursion
led by the Hephtalites, inner struggles and chaos caused by the Mazdakite revolt, as
well as a famine, the new measures introduced by the state were as urgent and necessary
for strengthening the nancial structure of the Sasanian Empire as restoring the public
trust and condence towards the state.
The main idea of these economic reforms were based on general surveys of plains
and even montainous lands. These new methods made it possible to make a more or
less exact calculation of land tax; as it reected the actual fertility and quality of the
land, which was a much more tolerant and even more exible concept in comparison
with the preceding system. The former system had obliged the farmers to keep the
cereals and products until the arrival of government ocials, who then calculated the
amount of tax land upon their visits and due to these bureaucratic methods, peasants
were prevented from harvesting their crops at the proper time many times .22
As for the payment of the taxes; it is well known that the amount of land as well as
poll tax was often stipulated in monetary terms, particularly in Sasanian silver dirhams
but the actual payment was usually not, or at least not entirely, made in cash. A large

Dandamayev Gyselen 1999.
708 Mikls Srkzy

amount of the tax was paid in kind, either as product (such as agricultural products or
artifacts) or corve. However, it is not exactly clear how a distribution between the two
modes of payment was arrived at, but the amount in kind received by the state provided
a source of prot, if not speculation.
However, our main problem is that although we are quite well informed about how
these reforms were introduced, so far we have had no contemporary Sasanian (Pahlavi)
sources at our disposal to estimate the real amount of the annual state revenues in the
late Sasanian period. All the sources we have relating to the amount of taxation of
the late Sasanian period belong to the Islamic period and show great dierences. Our
Islamic sources, relating to the Sasanian taxation reforms, are not later than the 910th
century ie. long after the fall of the Sasanian Empire. For instance, Ibn Khurddbih
says that the area of Sawd (Mesopotamia) paid 214285714 dirham under king Kawd
I (488531). 23
Sadly we lack any information neither contemporary, nor that of Islamic about the
reign of Xusraw I when the new measures were fully introduced. Later, we are informed
by Dnwar that under Xusraw II the taxes were reduced to half of them. However we
learned from Ibn Khurddbih that the whole amount of tax in the 18th year (609610)
of Xusraw IIs rule was 600 000000 dirham. When comparing the taxes paid by Sawd
under Kawd I with the taxes paid some 80-100 years later it is clear that nearly 40 %
of the taxes were produced by the westernmost fertile area of Sawd of the Sasanian
Empire. The taxes were raised with some 10 percent from the time of Kawd I until the
reign of Xusraw II.24 Unfortunately we lack any detailed information about the other
provinces beyond Sasanian Mesopotamia in late Sasanian period. Due to this fact the
aforementioned 300.000 dirham as a land tax of Wabaristn under the Khusraws proves
to be exactly unjustiable. Though the amount paid in silver by the Isfahbad seems to
be very small in comparison with that of Sawd but one must take into account what
Altheim-Stiehl suggests: Die arabischen Steuerbcher des Ibn Hurddbeh und Kudma
zeigen, dass noch in frhabbasidischer Zeit die Grundsteuer in Geld und Naturalien
entrichtet wurde. Wenn beide Autoren Zahlen fr Steuerertrage unter Kav und Xusro
II Aarvz (590628) in Mnze (Dirhem mitkal oder einfachen Dirhem) geben, so
knnten das in Geld umgerechnete Gesamtbetrage der Natualien und Mnze sein. If
one accepts it to be authentic the kharj paid in money and in goods in Wabaristn are

Ibn Khurddbih 1370/1991: 13.
Altheim Stiehl 1954: 41.
A Sasanian taxation list or an Early Islamic booty? 709

clearly separated and that is why the amount paid in in dirham is so limited. Meanwhile
in case of Sawd the whole kharj was calculated in dirham.25
Last but not least one must consider certain anachronisms and exaggerations made
on the prices and taxes by our Early Islamic sources. We must also take into account a
signicant degree of ination in the Early Islamic Period in the provinces previously
belonged to the Sasanian Empire as mentioned recently by Gignoux. As for the expenses
of the late Sasanian court described by the 9th century author Jhiz in his Kitb al-Tj
Gignoux states:
The sums given in drachms are extraordinarily high, on an altogether dierent
scale to tohose what we have seen for the seventh century, and denote, even if take into
account exaggeration by the author. Ination during the rst few centuries of Islam
comparable to that seen in Germany in the period between the two World Wars. For
the Sasanian era, the author commits some anachronisms that cannot give us any
informations ont he real cost of living26



The Islamic Conquest brought about many fundamental changes in the history of
Iranian provinces, but a number of earlier Sasanian institutions were preserved due
to the cooperation of newcomers and locals. Many Iranian towns and rural areas were
conquered more or less peacefully by the Arabs, in return for paying tribute for the
As for the rst four caliphs and the Umayyad period; we also know that the former
Sasanian scal and monetary system are still in use. In Iranian provinces the local
adminstritation consisted mainly of the former gentry (dahqn) and the Zoroastrian
clergy; both of them headed by a local Arab amir who was alone responsible for
collecting the revenues.27 As a result of the Arab conquest, there was a redistribution
of wealth, and the position of both landowners and peasants underwent considerable
changes in matters of tenure and taxation. The owners of private properties, if had not
ed or been killed, probably continued to cultivate their estates. We often read about

Altheim Stiehl 1954: 67.
Gignoux 2008: 136.
For the cooperation of Muslim conquerors and Zoroastrian indigenous population see: Choksy:
1997; Daryaee 2003: 112.
710 Mikls Srkzy

xed revenues with or without previous calculations, which were paid by indigenous
subalterns to their Arab landlords. However, we have only scanty information about
this process of taxations.
Concerning the conquered Iranian provinces; caliph cUmar decided that the legal
title belonged to the Islamic state, but he allowed the former owners to remain in their
possession, on condition that they paid the taxes formerly allotted by the Sasanian state,
and that they acted as the agents of the Muslim state in their collection.28 Theoretically,
a conquered land became an cur land29 whereas for a land left in possession, its former
owners were obliged to pay the former Sasanian kharj (land tax) 30. Newly conquered
non-Muslim subalterns also paid a graded poll tax, except in the cities which had
capitulated by treaty and paid such a tax only as their own ocers assessed it.31
Throughout the rule of the rst four caliphs and the later Umayyads, one can see
various situations in the dierent provinces, and it is not easy to assess to what extent
economic expansion was encouraged by Muslim newcomers or provisional institutions
inuenced it in a more negative way.32 New coins, Islamic dinars and dirhams appeared
only around 698699. 33 Except for the outlying eastern areas, where old (the former)
Arab-Sasanian coins still appeared a century later, all the existing mints in the eastern
part of the Umayyad empire were forced to introduce this new Umayyad currency.
Among the outlying provinces where old Sasanian institutions survived we can surely
nd Wabaristn since this northern Iranian province was ruled by its indenpendent
post-Sasanian dynasty the Dbyids at that time.
Among the new institutions introduced by the Arab conquerors and particularly by
caliph cUmar, the most important element was the preservation of taxes, formerly paid
to the Sasanians. This type of immediate submission not only preserved the former

For the implementation of the new measures of the caliphate see Morony 1976: 4159. One of the
most famous examples when a former owner succeeds in preserving his estates under the Caliphate
right after the Muslim conquests is that of Bisxm b. Nars, a distant maternal relative of the last
Sasanian king Yazdgird III in South-Iraq. See Baldhr 1866: 379.
29 c
Ur means one-tenth. It is a tax on agricultural produce. It is frequently used in the sense of
Sadaka and zakt, because no strict line is drawn between zakt and cur in Fiqh books.
For this reason in our new translation the term kharj is translated as land tax and not simply
as tribute as Browne did it in his abbreviated English summary, see Browne 1905: 98. Kharj,
a word of Aramaic origin made his way into both Persian and Arabic. Its original meaning was
land-tax in comparison jizya used as a poll-tax, only later it had a secondary meaning as tax,
Lambton 1997.
Lambton 1953: 10 30.
For more data see Lambton 1997; Paul 1999.
A Sasanian taxation list or an Early Islamic booty? 711

Sasanian economical and scal institutions, but also contributed signicantly to the
tenacious survival of the former Pre-Islamic landowner class.
The taxation list preserved in the Trkh-i )abaristn of Ibn Isfandyr cannot be
interpreted without the economical changes that happened after the Islamic conquest.
Although Wabaristn was not at all a province of the Caliphate until the reign of al-
Man^r, but the actual attitude of isfahbad Khurd reects the new rules set formerly
by caliph cUmar. The Dbyid ruler of Wabaristn, on the eve of the conquest of his
province, chose the most evident sign of obedience by sending the formerly paid
Sasanian tribute to the caliphe. In this context his oer to pay the annual revenue to
the caliph was rather a symbol of his submission to the Abbasid caliphate, according
to the rules set up by Caliph cUmar before.
Taking into consideration the decrees dating back to the rst decades of the caliphate,
the decision made by the the isfahbad of Wabaristn to pay the former Sasanian land
tax to the Caliph suits well the requirements prescribed by the Muslim conquerors after
the fall of the Sasanian empire.


Based on our current knowledge this list of the Trkh-i )abaristn is presumably of
Sasanian origin. On the basis of our analysis the content of this list deeply roots in the
late Sasanian period, its measures and the listed goods could be good examples of the
late Sasanian period following the reforms of Khusraw I.
The most striking feature of this list is that all the revenues are precisely xed
and the total sum of revenues are precisely given; which is a rarely seen fact of the
Sasanian economy where newly introduced taxation metods and measures are better
known than the numerical results. Since there has been no extant remnant of those
lists of provincial revenues which could give us detailed information about the annual
taxation of each province. The importance of this taxation list is due to the fact that
the remote and isolated Tabaristan was the only province in our knowledge where
such a list survived from.
The list published in the Trkh-i )abaristn, despite its chronological distance
from its origin is an interesting document of a transitional period: rst of all it can
be considered as an Islamized reproduction of an original Sasanian taxation list,
besides it is a symbol of the Islamic conquest of the last resisting province of Pre-
Islamic Iran.
712 Mikls Srkzy


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