Daniel T. Potts, Ancient Iran in the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Conciousness of Europe: The Printed Word, the Graven Image, the Learned Traveller, and the Stage
Long before archaeological excavations began to reveal the magnificence of the ruins at Persepolis, Ancient Iran was an object of enormous interest in the West. This early curiosity about pre-Islamic Iranian antiquity, particularly the Achaemenid Persian, Parthian (or Arsacid) and Sasanian empires, is captured in hundreds of books, beginning with those that contained editions of the major Classical sources containing data on ancient Iran, and moving on to eyewitness accounts by travellers, often accompanied by engravings illustrating Persepolis and other important monuments in the region. Concurrently, there appeared all over Europe plays and operas centering on the lives and deeds of Cyrus the Great, Darius, Xerxes and other ancient Iranian monarchs which added a human dimension to those written accounts of the Persian court and engravings of palaces and tombs that circulated ever more widely across Europe from the late 15th through the 18th centuries.
This lecture is presented in connection with our exhibition Broken Beauty: Ruins of the Ancient World. Additional related books from the Library’s Special Collections will be on display for this evening only.
Daniel T. Potts is Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and History at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW), New York University. He is a specialist in the archaeology and early history of Iran, Mesopotamia, and the Arabian peninsula. He is the founding editor of the journal Arabian Archaeology & Epigraphy; a Corresponding Member of the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente; and a Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute. He has excavated at sites in Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. His latest book is a new edition of The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State (Cambridge University Press, 2016). His previous book Nomadism in Iran: From Antiquity to the Modern Era, published by Oxford University Press in 2014, was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2015 PROSE Awards.