The representation of Persepolis in the Iranian press of the 1930s

West stairs, Palace of Xerxes at Persepolis, excavation photograph, 1930s. Courtesy of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago

Devos, Bianca. 2018. “History is repeated”: The representation of Persepolis in the Iranian press of the 1930s. Die Welt des Islams 58(3). 326–356.

From spring 1931 to autumn 1939, the University of Chicago`s Oriental Institute con-ducted the first scientific excavations at Persepolis. The excavations coincided with a decade of profound change in Iran’s state and society. Under the rule of Reżā Shāh (1925- 1941), the Iranian state implemented a comprehensive nationalist and modernist reform agenda and propagated a distinctive national Identity. The press played a crucial role in this process, informing the public about the excavations at Persepolis, a site that is highly significant for the nanative of the nation’s past. This article traces how Eṭṭelāʿāt, a leading Tehran newspaper, covered Persepolis and the archeological excavations there. The aim in doing so is to illustrate how the Iranian press developed during the 1930s, a period during which the press was commercialized and professionalized and experienced increasing interference nom the state’s censors.


Persepolis West (Fars, Iran)

Askari Chaverdi, Alireza & Pierfrancesco Callieri. 2017. Persepolis West (Fars, Iran): Report on the field work carried out by the Iranian-Italian Joint Archaeological Mission in 2008–2009 (British Archaeological Reports International Series 2870). BAR Publishing.

This book represents the final report on the field work carried out in 2008 and 2009 by the Iranian-Italian Joint Archaeological Mission at the archaeological site of Persepolis West, where parts of the town adjacent to the well-known Achaemenid monumental terrace of Persepolis have been located. The eleven trial trenches excavated in areas indicated by the results of Iranian and Iranian-French geophysical surveys represent the first stratigraphic excavations ever carried out on this site, the dating of which is supported by a rich series of radiocarbon datings. Illustration of the excavations is preceded by an accurate geophysical study of the topographical context and accompanied by a detailed and richly illustrated analysis of pottery and other finds: the safe stratigraphic context makes these finds a particularly important source of evidence for our knowledge of the ceramics of Fars during the historic pre-Islamic age. The excavations largely confirm the location of the built-up area of Parsa indicated by geophysical surveys.


Gemelli Careri’s Description of Persepolis

Colburn, Henry. 2017. Gemelli Careri’s description of PersepolisGetty Research Journal 9. 181–190.

This article examines the description of Persepolis, one of the capital cities of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (ca. 550–330 BCE), by Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri (1651–1725) in his illustrated travelogue Giro del mondo (1699–1700). Gemelli Careri’s extensive description of the site—some twenty pages of text accompanied by two plates engraved by Andrea Magliar (fl. 1690s)—is compared with the accounts of contemporary travelers and with present-day archaeological knowledge. Gemelli Careri’s visit to and description of Persepolis are now largely forgotten in the modern study of Achaemenid Persia, but they shed light on a transitional moment in the development of a more scientific approach to travel writing about archaeological sites: his work straddles the more imaginative approaches of earlier travel writers and the more scientific approaches of subsequent ones.


The Persian Empire in England

Grogan, Jane. 2014. The Persian empire in English Renaissance writing, 1549 – 1622. (Early Modern Literature in History). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
The Persian Empire in English Renaissance Writing, 1549-1622 studies the conception of Persia in the literary, political and pedagogic writings of Renaissance England and Britain. It argues that writers of all kinds debated the means and merits of English empire through their intellectual engagement with the ancient Persian empire. It studies the reception of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia and the Histories of Herodotus, the bedrock of English conceptions of Persia and the Persian empire, in plays, poetry and political thought. Covering the period from the beginnings of Anglo-Persian relations under the auspices of the Muscovy Company in the 1560s and 1570s to the first Anglo-Persian military alliance in 1622, it traces the changing conception and uses of Persia – both Islamic and ancient – in the English literary and political imaginary, and demonstrates the contemporary uses of an idealized image of Persia rooted in the classical legacy.
Table of Contents:
  • Introduction: Reading Persia in Renaissance England
  • Classical Persia: Making Kings and Empires
  • Romance Persia: ‘Nourse of Pompous Pride’
  • Staging Persia: ‘To ride in triumph through Persepolis’
  • Sherley Persia: ‘Agible things’
  • Epilogue: Ormuz

About the Author:

Jane Grogan is a Lecturer in Renaissance Literature at the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin, Ireland.


Ancient Iran and Islamic Identity

Modern Iran is a country with two significant but competing discourses of national identity, one stemming from ancient pre-Islamic customs and mythology, the other from Islamic Shi’i practices and beliefs. At one time co-existing and often mutually reinforcing, in more modern times they have been appropriated by intellectuals and the state who have drawn upon their narratives and traditions to support and authenticate their ideologies. The result has been an often-confused notion of identity in Iran. In this essential work, Ali Mozaffari explores the complex processes involved in the formation of Iranian national identity. He lays particular stress upon the importance of place, for it is through the concept of place that collective national identity and ideas of homeland are expressed and disseminated. The author reveals the ways in which homeland is conceived both through designated permanent sites and ritual performance, illustrating his arguments through an analysis of the ancient Achaemenid capital of Persepolis and the Shi’i rituals of Moharram.