Amélie Kuhrt to deliver the Harold Bailey Lecture 2015

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

Excavating an Empire

Daryaee, Touraj, Ali Mousavi & Khodadad Rezakhani (eds.). 2014. Excavating an Empire:Achaemenid Persia in Longue Durée. Costa Mesa California: Mazda Publisher.

Study of empires and imperial power within the context of world history is a relatively recent subject within a field which itself is quite young. With the ever present discussions on the issue of globalization and increased contact among modern nation-states, a need to understand the long term trends in human and material interaction, and the means of controlling them, is increasingly felt in academia. Empires, as large units of administration which are often posited to have had an abusive relationship with their peripheries, are deemed viable subjects of study and inquiry in the pre-modern, pre-globalized world. On the other hand, the imposed frame work of modern nation-states on historiography, and the long trend in national, and often nationalistic historiography, similarly has encouraged a study of the empires which are thought to be ancestors of modern nations, from Italy and Rome to China and the Qing Empire. Among these, the Achaemenid Empire which ruled the Near East, and occasionally parts of North Africa, for about two centuries (late sixth to late fourth century BCE) is a curious and commonly neglected case. Often fitted within the national historiography of Iran, it is nonetheless acknowledged to have had a wider impact on the region beyond the borders of the modern nation-state.


The Relations between the Kingdom of Urartu and the Achaemenid Empire

Dan, Roberto. 2015. From the Armenian Highland to Iran: A Study on the Relations between the Kingdom of Urartu and the Achaemenid Empire, Serie Orientale Roma 4, Roma: Scienze e Lettere.

This work by Roberto Dan, in which he provides a systematic and in depth analysis of the complex question of the possible connections that may have existed between Urartian culture and that of the Achaemenids, is an important achievement in this area of research. The book is divided into two parts, one of which is historical in approach and provides the necessary background to set the scene for the manner and timing of the interactions between these two protagonists (outlining a situation which has diverse implications),  and one that is archaeological, which constitutes the real core
of the work.

Table of contents is available here.


Art of the Achaemenid Empire

Colburn, Henry. 2013. Art of the Achaemenid Empire, and art in the Achaemenid Empire. In Brian A. Brown & Marian H. Feldman (eds.), Critical approaches to ancient Near Eastern art, 773-800. De Gruyter.

This chapter introduces two major aspects of the study of Achaemenid Persian art, namely its definition, and the analysis of quotations of other artistic traditions. Achaemenid art is best defined as consisting of two categories of material. One is the art of the empire, that is, art produced in furtherance of imperial goals. The other category consists of art in the empire, or the artistic production of regions subject to Achaemenid rule. Though this art often took an outward form typical of its local context it was always produced in dialogue with the art of the empire. In both of these categories visual quotations of other, often earlier, artistic traditions figured prominently. These quotations were utilized by individuals as a means of constructing and negotiating visually their positions in the social order of the empire, and by parsing these quotations it becomes possible to reconstruct some of the social conditions in which they were selected. This concept is illustrated in three case studies that demonstrate the breadth of Achaemenid art and its value as a historical source for the study of the empire.