HISTART 481 offers a survey of the visual and material culture of ancient Iran from late prehistory (around 4000 BC) through the glories of Persepolis and the Achaemenid Persian Empire, with a brief glimpse of later material leading up to the Islamic conquests of the mid-7th century AD. A special theme is the complexly intertwined notion of kingship, cosmos, and social contract, which is determined and abetted by cultural as well as natural landscapes and by ecologies of memory. This notion in many variations runs through Iranian culture across time and affords a provocative lens through which to view aspects of contemporary Iranian society as well. Approaches are based on the most current thinking and research in the field, with keen attention both to the importance of empirical evidence and to the promise of theoretical models that can assist in its interpretation.
This is a lecture course with a significant discussion component plus direct exposure to antiquities housed in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Although HISTART 481 is open to graduate students as well as undergraduates, few will come with a significant academic background in the field. Variation in background exposure from student to student is understood from the start. Project topics are carefully planned to take interests and academic level into account. A wide range of topic options gives plenty of scope for creative, original work in an exciting, still pioneering arena.
Basis of evaluation:
- Participation in class and museum sessions
- Several short critical responses (to readings, museum material, and films)
- A substantial term project — either individual or team — developing and implementing quality computer-based explorations relating to course themes and content pertinent to the Near East collections and relevant research/archaeological agendas that enhance our understanding of these collections. These explorations will be presented as completed efforts at the Kelsey Museum’s computer Exploration Station. Students without computer expertise will be accommodated. Grad student projects are of more expansive scope and greater depth.
This course has been approved to meet Museum Studies Grad Cognate and a Minor elective.