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Writing histories of destruction: iconoclasm vs. antiquarianism at Persepolis

Writing histories of destruction: iconoclasm vs. antiquarianism at Persepolis
569 Spadina Avenue, Koffler House, Auditorium 108
Time: Nov 3rd, 8:00 pm End: Nov 3rd, 10:00 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (FAS), History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), Classics (FAS), before 400 BCE, Archaeology
Lecture by Lindsay Allen, King's College, London

The Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies / La Société canadienne des etudes mésopotamiennes (CSMS) is pleased to present:

Lindsay Allen, Lecturer in Greek and Near Eastern History, King's College, London

Writing histories of destruction: iconoclasm vs. antiquarianism at Persepolis

Recent events have focussed attention on the danger posed to structures and finds at archaeological sites by religious fanaticism and lack of security safeguards.  This paper introduces a historical case study of ruin fragmentation using the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Persepolis in Iran.  Erected as a monumental imperial centre between the sixth and the fourth centuries BCE, surviving stone structures at Persepolis were extant above ground and vulnerable to souvenir-hunters throughout the early modern and modern period.  This paper compares the most common story of iconoclasm at Persepolis - about a petulant seventeenth-century governor who attacked the site and was put to death - with the stories of plunder that can be traced through archival data in the modern era. These data are in the object biographies of most fragments of Persepolitan sculpture held by museums outside Iran now.  Finally I talk about how this historiographical excavation of a site in the expanded field of its excavated and unexcavated diaspora amounts to a dispersed occupation phase; in contrast to local or national re-use of ‘spolia’, museum displays show the site being globally reconfigured by geopolitics.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, please contactthe CSMS at (416) 978-4531 or csms@chass.utoronto.ca.

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