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Classical Bulletin -
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In her cultural and political history of the development of this dynasty, Lindsay Allen—-classicist and scholar of ancient Iran—surveys written sources, art objects, warfare, politics, and archaeological sites, supplementing the historical framework with descriptions of daily life during Persian rule. She traces the evolution of the monarchy, showing how it fostered unprecedented international communication and cultural exchange, and describes how the Persian expedition into Greece in the early fifth century BCE became a defining moment that established a European identity unique from an Asian one. Examining the rediscovery of the royal capitals at Persepolis and Susa, Allen illuminates the legacy of Persian imperial traditions. Throughout, lavish illustrations bring to life the traditions of this ancient Middle Eastern civilization and finally place Alexander's invasion within a Persian context. As the subject experiences renewed interest, The Persian Empire promises to be the definitive work on one of the most powerful dynasties in ancient history.
Posted January 22, 2009
For most Westerners, the Persian Empire was an Asiatic historical area conquered by the Macedonian Alexander the Great. But in this companion to a British Museum exhibition based on unprecedented loans from the National Museum of Iran and other major museum sources of Persian antiquities, Allen presents the Persian Empire in its own right, as the Roman Empire or the British Empire are in the history books. Besides working at the British Museum, the author has also worked at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The many objects of the exhibition that are pictured are supplemented by photographs of the remains of monuments and buildings, landscape photographs, maps, and works of art to evince the high level of political and artistic accomplishments. Allen presents the Empire by a history defined mostly by the succession of rulers until the conquest combined with a cultural appreciation of the art work, architecture, religious ideas, political order, and pattern of growth and decay.
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