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Forgotten Empire Exhibition Challenges Historical Distortions




11 September 2005


Demonstrating the real strength and powerful civilization of ancient Persia, the exhibition titled “Forgotten Empire: the World of Ancient Persia” which is inaugurated two days ago at the British Museum has caused lots of controversies in cultural and artistic societies in Europe which are traditionally dominated by hellenophiles.

Believing to be the first and the only civilized nation in the history of that era, the hellenophiles who are faced with titles like “Alexander the Macedonian warlord, the destroyer of Persepolis” instead of what they used to hear as “Alexander the Great”, are now showing bitter and flustered reactions.

This approach towards the Greek civilization and the famous cylinder of Cyrus the Great, which is put on display as a manifesto of Achaemenid Empire at a concluding point at the end of the exhibition, is the first ever demonstration of Iran ancient history in this way with such global dimensions. The cylinder of Cyrus the Great, which has been discovered in ancient Babylonia, is claimed to be the first ever human rights in the world.

For this new approach, some experts expected even harsher criticisms and more bitter controversies. Shahrokh Razmjoo, an Iranian expert on the history of Achaemenids who contributed to this exhibition, emphasized that the exhibition was aimed to correct the historical distortions about ancient Persian history.

“According to what ancient Greek historians indoctrinated, which is even now taught in European universities, Persians who were savagely seeking the demise and collapse of west, suddenly faced with Greeks resistance and were toppled. This is a mere distortion of historical facts and we hope through such exhibitions we can introduce the reality of our history to people all around the world,” he said.

Razmjoo believed that with the destruction of Persepolis, Alexander not only toppled the Achaemenids but also caused the demise of Greeks as well. He indicated, “With his historic irreversible mistake, Alexander deprived Greece from having cultural interactions with Iran which might have resulted in mutual cultural elevation.”

Mohammad Reza Karegar, director of the National Museum of Iran remarked these controversies as the sign of the importance of this exhibition and indicated, “Nothing is objected unless it is important and influential.”

“Through such activities, the public opinions around the world will be familiarized with Iranian culture and that raise the global awareness. But this awareness is not accepted and favorable for everyone,” added Karegar.




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