26
Aug 16

Een nieuwe website

Beste lezers,

Het is inmiddels ruim drie maanden geleden dat ik iets op ancientworldlibrary.com heb gepubliceerd. In mei gaf ik al aan dat ik druk bezig was mijn carrière als freelance schrijver op te zetten en vertelde ik ook al over mijn plannen om een nieuwe website op te zetten. Welnu, dat laatste is gebeurd. De nieuwe website – daannijssen.com – is er in de eerste plaats om mijn diensten als freelance schrijver te promoten, maar op de blog zijn al mijn artikelen van Ancient World Library terug te vinden. Op de blog zullen weldra meer artikelen volgen, waaronder ook artikelen over andere onderwerpen dan de oudheid en korte bespiegelingen.

Hoe het met mij gaat? ‘Goed’, durf ik wel te zeggen. Tijdens de eerste maanden van mijn freelance carrière heb ik veel geluk gehad, met klanten die mij als het ware kwamen aanwaaien: scriptienakijkbureau Scriptium, de verschillende tijdschriften van Karwansaray Publishers, Iraans cultureel centrum Bashgah Golshan en weblog Sargasso waar ik mijn eigen serie over het Oude Nabije Oosten ben begonnen. Ik verdien redelijk, maar dat is niet het belangrijkste. Het belangrijkste is dat de dingen nu in beweging zijn. Ik zie jullie graag terug op de nieuwe website.


20
May 16

Daan Nijssen takes a DNA test

As a historian I have always been curious about my ancestors. Unfortunately, however, archives and baptismal registers only go back a few hunderd years. One of my paternal uncles has traced the Nijssen family line back to the sixteenth century, but so far all of my paternal ancestors seem to have lived in a small area on the border between Noord-Brabant and Limburg. On my maternal side, too, all of my ancestors up to the third generation came from that specific region. So far, no exotic influences have been detected and no connections to great historical events can be made.

Since I am especially interested in ancient history, I have always been a bit disappointed that I would never know to which ancient peoples I was related. That is, until I discovered genetic DNA testing. Over the past few years I have read a lot about genetic genealogy and a few weeks ago I decided to order a DNA test of my own, at 23andme. At 23andme professional geneticists investigate your DNA and try to trace the origins of your genetic material back to specific regions. They can also identify both your paternal (Y-DNA) and maternal (mitochrondrial DNA) haplogroups, which allows you to trace the migration routes of your ancestors took right back to East Africa. A few days ago the results came in…

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16
May 16

The future of Ancient World Library

Dear readers,

It has been a while since I last updated my website. Don’t worry, I’m not planning to stop posting altogether, but I am going through a turbulent period at the moment.

Since my return from Iran I have been busy building my career as a freelance writer and editor. I have worked on various assignments, ranging from simple copywriting to writing historical articles for Medieval Warfare Magazine and from proofreading E-books to giving professional feedback on student’s theses.

It’s quite a challenge to find a good balance between working too little and working too much, especially when the feeling of financial insecurity keeps nagging at you. When you’re working too little, you feel stressed about not earning enough. When you’re working too much, you feel stressed because of the workload and you’ll see the quality of your work diminish. Nevertheless, looking at what I have accomplished so far I do have reason to be proud. It will take me some time to find the right balance, but in the end I am sure that this new lifestyle will benefit me. I will be able to work on my own terms, create my own work schedule and earn money by doing what I do best.

Because of all these changes, I haven’t been working much on my blog lately. Even though I did have a free afternoon now and then, I needed these times to relax. As soon as I’ll get into a more steady work flow I’m sure that I will pick up writing again, although I cannot promise you when that will be.

Considering the future of this blog, I have some great ideas. First of all, I’m thinking of building a new website – with my full name in the URL – that is mostly aimed at promoting my work as a freelancer. A section of this website will be reserved for my blog posts. I will be blogging about ancient history, but also about a whole range of other topics. There will probably be fewer long informative articles of 1000 to 2000 words, but more short posts, like news updates, links to certain videos or books, opinion pieces, anecdotes, etc. The blog will be more personalized and will not have the pretention of being a library or an encyclopedia.

As soon as I will start using my new website for posting my ancient history posts, I will transfer the old posts on ancientworldlibrary.com to the new website as well. As of yet I don’t know how to do that, but I’m smart enough to find out. It will take some time to look up the information and get the process started, however, so I’m trying to find a suitable moment when I don’t have too many other obligations. Until that moment I will continue posting on this blog. Also, I will keep you posted on my plans for transferring the content to the new blog.

Cheers,

Daan


30
Apr 16

Touraj Daryaee “Burden of the Past”

Touraj Daryaee. Source: http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5432

Touraj Daryaee.
Source: http://www.faculty.uci.edu/profile.cfm?faculty_id=5432

The first time I heard of Touraj Daryaee was in 2012. I was about to go to the TOPOI workshop Imperial Space and Daryaee was listed among the speakers. Touraj, professor at the University of California, Irving, is an American Iranologist of Persian descent specialized in the Sasanid period. The Sasanid period has often been neglected, but in recent years Daryaee has popularized it and became one of the leading authorities in the field. Since the subject of my Master thesis was interconnected with Sasanid history, I was very interested to hear him speak. Unfortunately, however, Touraj himself couldn’t make it to Berlin. He sent a representative who nevertheless gave a fascinating lecture. During the years that followed I read many of Daryaee’s books and articles. He has an accessible and engaging writing style that is ideal for introducing laypeople to a complex topic. When I received an email from Rolf Strootman about a week ago that Touraj was about to give a lecture at the University of Utrecht on April 19th, I didn’t hesitate one moment.

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23
Apr 16

How Buddha became a catholic saint

Once upon a time, in faraway India, lived a king named Abenner. Abenner was a stubborn idolater who severly persecuted the Christians in his realm. One day, however, he begat a son. He asked the court astrologers to predict the course of his life, but their answer didn’t please him. They said that the boy, named Josaphat, would one day become a Christian himself and convert the entire realm to this religion. Alarmed by this prophecy Abenner had his son locked up in a palace and isolated from the outside world. Despite these precautions, however, Josaphat meets a hermit named Barlaam, who introduces him to the Christian faith. Abenner, who noticed the young prince’s change of heart, tries to corrupt him by offering him all kinds of luxuries and beautiful women, but Josaphat remains firm in his faith. Eventually Abenner, impressed by his son’s morality, decides to hand over the government of his kingdom to him and before his death he himself converts to Christianity. Soon after Abenner’s death, however, Josaphat abdicates and decides to live out his days as a hermit in the desert, along with his old teacher Barlaam.

A Christian depiction of Josaphat, from a 12th Century manuscript.

A Christian depiction of Josaphat, from a 12th Century manuscript.

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16
Apr 16

My experience with Turkish Airlines

After spending a great final day in Shiraz on April 8th, we headed back to Baharestan in a comfortable (yet slow!) bus on the 9th. We spent our final evening at Mehdi’s house, where we watched a Bollywood movie, a martial arts film in which Jackie Chan practised Drunken Fist kung fu and an episode of the popular Iranian series Yusarsif, about the life of the prophet Joseph. Mehdi, Ali and I had a final nightly walk in which Mehdi told us about his encounters with Jinns. After stating that I didn’t believe in Jinns, Mehdi offered to show me a picture. Considering the fact that I still wanted to get some sleep that night, however, I decided that I did not want to see it. Mehdi and Ali brought me to Isfahan Airport early in the morning, so I could catch my pre-planned flight to Istanbul at 6:55 PM. That’s where the trouble started…

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15
Apr 16

Through the land of the Persians (April 6-9 2016)

After spending another night at Mehdi’s home in Baharestan, we departed for Persepolis on April 6th. Mehdi had arranged a taxi driver for us whom he gave detailed instructions about the route and the prize. We left early and spent most of the morning riding through the endless plains of Fars province. As we went south the ground became more arid and the terrain more rugged. Rocky hills covered in isolated bushes and clumps of low grass arose around us. This truly was a barren wasteland and it was hard to imagine that the two most important Iranian empires – the Achaemenid and the Sasanid – had arisen from this province.

Bird's eye view of Persepolis

Bird’s eye view of Persepolis

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14
Apr 16

Through the land of the Medes (April 3-5 2016)

On April 3rd we left Tehran for Hamadan. Of all the cities and sights that we had planned for our trip, Hamadan is probably the least well known. Today Hamadan is little more than a medium sized mountain town. It has a relatively modern city center, few monumental buildings and almost no attractions. In Antiquity, however, the city was called Ecbatana and was universally known as the capital of the Medes (678-550 BC). I had studied the Medes during my Research Master, so to me Hamadan was of special significance. The Medes allegedly founded the first Iranian empire and laid the basis for the later Achaemenid Empire. However, over the last few decades the idea that there had been a true Median Empire has been called into doubt. Instead, it has been proposed that the Median Empire was more like a loose tribal federation. Because of my research I am familiar with most publications and field reports on this region in pre-Achaemenid times. I was therefore very excited to finally see the region with my own eyes.

The Median Empire according to Diakonoff.

The Median Empire according to Diakonoff.

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13
Apr 16

Tehran – Stolen Heritage (March 31 – April 3 2016)

Me in front of the Azadi Tower

Me in front of the Azadi Tower

On March 31th we left Isfahan for Tehran. After sleeping in until the early afternoon we caught the 2 PM bus, where we slept some more. The jet lag had really hit hard. As an evening person I already have trouble waking up early and in Iran it was two-and-a-half hours later than in the Netherlands. In addition, daylight saving time had just started the weekend before my departure. Long story short, we arrived in Tehran late in the evening where we booked a room for three nights at the prestigious Ferdowsi International Grand Hotel. This hotel, named after the famous Persian poet Abolqasem Ferdowsi (940-1020), was decorated in Neo-Achaemenid style. Fun fact: Ferdowsi hardly mentions the Achaemenids in his epic, the Shahnameh. It was good to stay in such a luxurious hotel for a while. As someone who lives in social housing appartment and has little money to spend on anything other than the bare necessities, it was a great experience.

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12
Apr 16

Isfahan – A warm welcome (March 29-31 2016)

It was six in the morning when I landed at Isfahan International Airport. I was exhausted because of my lack of sleep, but I was excited to finally set foot on Iranian soil. After years of studying the history and culture of Iran I would now finally see the country that I loved so much. Outside my good friend Ali Abroo was waiting for me, along with his cousin Mehdi. Both were eager to carry my luggage for me, even though I repeatedly told them that I could carry the luggage myself. A taxi brought us to the home Mehdi in Baharestan, a relatively wealthy suburb of Isfahan, where a bed had been prepared for me.Naghshe_Jahan_Square_Isfahan_modified

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