The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, November 13, 2016

When did Elam become Sugarland?

Eleven years ago I wrote some stuff about Sugarland, Khuzistan in Semito-Iranian. Yesterday I bought Watson's book on Agricultural innovation. Sugar cane takes up the fifth chapter: pp. 24-30, notes pp. 159-62.

On page 26, Watson states, and over p. 160 nn. 12-13, argues, that sugar went uncultivated in the Eranshahr until very late. He finds a loud "dog that did not bark" from Khusro I's tax law (< 578 AD), which - if sugar were grown under his banner - would assuredly have noted that crop. Ditto the Bavli Talmud. The "Pahlavi Text" recalls sugar as the treat of kings.

Under the second Khusro, Watson and I are seeing (much) stronger evidence for Sasanian sugar. Theophanes records blocks of sugar, presumably large blocks, captured as booty during the Last Persian War. The Sui annal for 629 notes sugar as a "Persian" export crop, just as the Chinese note for the second half of that century.

Watson concludes sugar cane was probably grown in Persia for some decades before the conquest. For "Fars", read "Ahwaz".

By the way, Altara has provided a translation of the Khuzistan Chronicle. I don't know who did the actual work of translation, nor from what - Syriac? If from Altara herself, my guess would be, from French. If not, treat as "anon".

UPDATE 2/25/2017: so, about the name...

UPDATE 1/8/2018: And then there's Moses Khorenatsi in Armenia, affecting Christian Hellenism in the fifth century, to whom our region was still classical Elymais (=Elam). The 2016 edition of this blogpost was unsure what to make of Moses' mention; Watson thinks its text in the seventh century has undergone an update. Now we know: Khorenatsi is late and forged, all of it. I admit, he might have known it wasn't sugarland during the time of his 'history'.

posted by Zimri on 08:58 | link | 0 comments

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