Color and Meaning in the Art of Achaemenid Persia

Nagel, Alexander. 2023. Color and meaning in the art of Achaemenid Persia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In this volume, Alexander Nagel investigates the use of polychromy in the art and architecture of ancient Iran. Focusing on Persepolis, he explores the topic within the context of the modern historiography of Achaemenid art and the scientific investigation of a range of works and monuments in Iran and in museums around the world. Nagel’s study contextualizes scholarly efforts to retrieve aspects of ancient polychromies in Western Asia and interrogates current debates about the contemporary use of color in the architecture and sculpture in the ancient Mediterranean world, especially in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Bringing a multi-disciplinary perspective to the topic, Nagel also highlights the important role of theory, methodology, and conservation studies in the process of reconstructing polychromy in ancient monuments. A celebration of the work of painters, artisans, craftsmen and -women of Iran’s past, his volume suggests frameworks through which historical and contemporary research play a dynamic role in the reconstruction of ancient technological knowledge.