conference will be held on the Iranian Achaemenid
empire from 29th of September to 1st of October in
the British Museum, in conjunction with the
exhibition of the “Forgotten Empire: The World
of Ancient Persia” held there from 8th of
September 2005 till 8th of January 2006.
The conference is organized by the British Museum
and the Iran Heritage Foundation and will discuss
different issues of the Achaemenid era of Persia.
The committee includes John Curtis, Farhad
Hakimzadeh, Sam Moorhead, St. John Simpson, and
According to the website of Iran Heritage
Foundation issues covered in the three-day
with Achaemenid History - There are many
unresolved issues in the history of the
Achaemenid period and many areas for possible
investigation. Topics that have been the focus
of recent attention include the ethnicity of
Cyrus, the significance of Gaumata’s
rebellion, and the genealogy of Darius.
Amongst subjects for future discussion might
be the transition between the Median and
Achaemenid periods and the apparent ease with
which the empire was overthrown in 334-331 BC.
- In this section we will tackle royal
imagery, the status of the king and religious
of Administration - There will be an
opportunity here to discuss administrative
texts, seals and sealings, coins, and other
matters pertaining to administration.
Society and Ethnicity - In Achaemenid art
representations of women are rare, but there
are many references to women in the
administrative texts and other sources. We
hope to consider this phenomenon and look at
the place of women in the Achaemenid court and
in society, as well as looking at other
socio-economic groups that may not feature
largely in the exhibition.
and Burial - Whether the Achaemenid kings were
Zoroastrians, or whether they were simply
believers in Ahuramazda, or whether they
respected various gods, are still subjects
that are hotly debated. Some scholars point to
the various gods listed in the Elamite tablets
from Persepolis, while others believe that
important clues can be found in the religious
ceremonies listed in the archives. Equally
enigmatic is the diversity of burial customs
attested in the Achaemenid Empire, none of
which conform to orthodox Zoroastrian
- In building and maintaining one of the
largest empires in antiquity, the Persian army
(and to a lesser extent the navy) played a key
role. There have been a number of recent
studies on these subjects and the conference
will present an opportunity to review the
current state of research.
- There will be scope here to discuss the
history, art and archaeology of outlying parts
of the Empire.
and Material Culture - Papers will be welcomed
on all aspects of Achaemenid art such as the
reliefs and glazed brick decoration and on
groups of small finds such as the
controversial discoveries at Kalma-kareh.
between Persia and Greece - This would be a
particularly appropriate subject for
discussion in the British Museum where it will
be possible to contrast the objects in the
special exhibition with the extensive
collection of sculpture from Asia Minor
(particularly Xanthos and Halicarnassus) and
from Greece itself (notably the Parthenon).
Subjects for discussion might include cultural
interaction and biased Greek perceptions of
Persia that still persist in the west.
and Politics - The Persian Empire is often
characterised as being tyrannical and despotic
in contrast to enlightened western-style
democracy. It would be interesting to take a
fresh look at this traditional stereotype
particularly in the light of recent events in
the Middle East.
- A good deal has been written about the
“discovery” of Ancient Persia by western
travellers and we would like to redress the
balance by concentrating on the continuation
of the tradition in Parthian and Sasanian
times and in Islamic period sources, and on
the revival in the Qajar and Pahlavi periods.
conference is held simultaneously with the largest
ever exhibition on the Achaemenid era held form
8th of September 2005 to 8th of January 2006 in
the British Museum, entitled “Forgotten Empire:
The World of Ancient Persia”. The items to be
showcased in the exhibition include some of the
finest pieces from the collections of The National
Museum of Iran, many of which have not been seen
outside Tehran before, as well as key pieces from
the Louvre in Paris, the Vorderasiatisches
(Ancient Near East Antiquities) Museum in Berlin
and the British Museum’s own significant
The conference committee is calling for papers on
the 11 themes proposed above, and the prospective
speakers are to send a 250-300 word abstract by
15th of May 2005.