Amélie Kuhrt to deliver the Harold Bailey Lecture 2015

Friday 11th December, 5.30pm at FAMES, Cambridge
Professor Amélie Kuhrt, FBA – The King Speaks: The Persians and their Empire
The Achaemenid empire was created in the space of less than thirty years and dominated, with considerable success, a region stretching from Central Asia to the Aegean for around 200 years. How did the Persian kings and ruling elite visualise their immense power? How was that vision expressed? In this talk, Amélie Kuhrt, Professor Emeritus at University College London, aims to present an outline of the Persian image of their domain, concentrating on monuments and inscriptions from the royal centres and leaving aside the stories of outsiders, such as Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Jews.
The lecture will begin promptly at 5.30pm, followed by a reception.
Admission free. Booking not required.
Venue: Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA
Tel. 01223 356841

Persian kingship and architecture

I haven’t seen the ToC of this book, but know that Matthew Canepa has a chapter here, entitled Dynastic sanctuaries and the transformation of Iranian kingship between Alexander and Islam, focusing on the ‘Middle Iranian’ period. It is an excellent article and will hopefully be available soon.

Babaie, Sussan & Talinn Grigor (eds.). 2015. Persian kingship and architecture: Strategies of power in Iran from the Achaemenids to the Pahlavis. I.B.Tauris.

Since the Shah went into exile and the Islamic Republic was established in 1979 in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, the very idea of monarchy in Iran has been contentious. Yet, as Persian Kingship and Architecture argues, the institution of kingship has historically played a pivotal role in articulating the abstract notion of ‘Iran’ since antiquity. These ideas surrounding kingship and nation have, in turn, served as a unifying cultural force despite shifting political and religious allegiances. Through analyses of palaces, mausolea, art, architectural decoration and urban design the authors show how architecture was appropriated by different rulers as an integral part of their strategies of legitimising power. They refer to a variety of examples, from the monuments of Persepolis under the Achamenids, the Sassanian palaces at Kish, the Safavid public squares of Isfahan, the Qajar palaces at Shiraz and to the modernisation and urban agendas of the Pahlavis. Drawing on archaeology, ancient, medieval, early and modern architectural history, both Islamic and secular, this book is indispensable for all those interested in Iranian studies and visual culture.

The Babylonian version of the Achaemenid inscriptions

Daneshmand, Parsa. 2015. New phraseology and literary style in the Babylonian version of the Achaemenid inscriptions. In Alfonso Archi (ed.), Tradition and innovation in the Ancient Near East: Proceedings of the 57th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale at Rome 4–8 July 2011. Indiana: Eisenbrauns.

A cultural history of Aramaic

Gzella, Holger. 2015. A cultural history of Aramaic: From the beginnings to the advent of Islam. Leiden/Boston: Brill.

Aramaic is a constant thread running through the various civilizations of the Near East, ancient and modern, from 1000 BCE to the present, and has been the language of small principalities, world empires, and a fair share of the Jewish-Christian tradition. Holger Gzella describes its cultural and linguistic history as a continuous evolution from its beginnings to the advent of Islam. For the first time the individual phases of the language, their socio-historical underpinnings, and the textual sources are discussed comprehensively in light of the latest linguistic and historical research and with ample attention to scribal traditions, multilingualism, and language as a marker of cultural self-awareness. Many new observations on Aramaic are thereby integrated into a coherent historical framework

Darius in the shadow of Alexander

Jane Marie Todd’s translation of Briant’s 2003 Darius dans l’ombre d’Alexandre has just been published:

Briant, Pierre. 2015. Darius in the Shadow of Alexander. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

The last of Cyrus the Great’s dynastic inheritors and the legendary enemy of Alexander the Great, Darius III ruled over a Persian Empire that stretched from the Mediterranean to the Indus River. Yet, despite being the most powerful king of his time, Darius remains an obscure figure. […] While Darius seems doomed to be a footnote in the chronicle of Alexander’s conquests, in one respect it is Darius who has the last laugh. For after Darius’s defeat in 331 BCE, Alexander is described by historians as becoming ever more like his vanquished opponent: a Darius-like sybarite prone to unmanly excess.

Jan P. Stronk, University of Amsterdam, reviewed the original for the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Other reviews include:

  • Brosius, M.2006. Review of Pierre Briant: Darius dans l’ombre d’Alexandre. Gnomon 78(5). 426–430.
  • Stoneman, R. 2006. Darius III and Alexander: Darius dans l’ombre d’Alexandre by P. Briant. The Classical Review 56(2). 415–417.
  • معماران کاشی، مهرداد. ۱۳۸۴. نقد و بررسی کتاب: داریوش در سایه اسکندر. بخارا ۴۶. ۳۵۸–۳۶۴.

Imagining Xerxes

Bridges, Emma. 2014. Imagining Xerxes: Ancient perspectives on a Persian king. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Imagining Xerxes is a transhistorical analysis that explores the richness and variety of Xerxes’ afterlives within the ancient literary tradition. It examines the earliest representations of the king, in Aeschylus’ tragic play Persians and Herodotus’ historiographical account of the Persian Wars, before tracing the ways in which the image of Xerxes was revisited and adapted in later Greek and Latin texts. The author also looks beyond the Hellenocentric viewpoint to consider the construction of Xerxes’ image in the Persian epigraphic record and the alternative perspectives on the king found in the Jewish written tradition.

The big and beautiful women of Asia

A slightly older but important article by Llewellyn-Jones dealing with the imagery of Achaemenid period seals and gemstones:

Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd. 2010. The big and beautiful women of Asia: Ethnic conceptions of ideal beauty in Achaemenid period seals and gemstones. In Hales, Shelley & Tamar Hodos (eds.), Material culture and social identities in the ancient world. Cambridge: CUP.

Read the article here.

Identity, independence & interdependence

A Workshop in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh
Monday 26 May 2014, 10 am to 5 pm
Sydney Smith Lecture Theatre, Doorway 1, Old Medical School

Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones will talk about The rhetoric of empire in ancient Iran: ‘Better together’.