Thursday, May 09, 2013

From Humban to Auramazda – Image and Text. A New Religious Landscape for the Early Persians

Vortrag: From Humban to Auramazda – Image and Text. A New Religious Landscape for the Early Persians

Wouter F. M. Henkelman and Mark B. Garrison
From Humban to Auramazda – Image and Text. A New Religious Landscape for the Early Persians

Montag, 13. Mai 2013, 15.00 Uhr

The Persepolis Fortification texts, a large economic archive of sealed claytablets written in Elamite cuneiform and Aramaic alphabetic script (ca. 500BCE), is rapidly becoming established as the most important primary source for the early Achaemenid Empire. The overwhelming richness of the glyptic imagery and the vast potential of its textual contents are unparalleled among other sources from the period. And though the preserved timespan (16 years) is rather short, the archive bears a relevance to a much longer period, notably the fundamental context of cultural encounters between Elamites and (Indo-)Iranians in centuries prior to the emergence of the empire. As such, the archive supports the view that, as in later periods of Iranian history, Persian identity at the time of the Achaemenids was rather inclusive. A telling example is that of the religious landscape: whereas the early Persians were previously viewed as the heralds of an enlightened new faith (Zoroastrianism) that was believed to have either emerged in a cultural void or have contrasted markedly with that of the ‘pagan’ Elamites, the Fortification archive now shows us an entirely different and much more interesting world. Replacing an almost colonist perspective of cultural dominance, it reveals a variegated divine and ritual imagery, as well as a surprisingly mixed pantheon served by priests with Elamite or Iranian titles performing sacrifices with Elamite or Iranian names. As such, the archive challenges the idea of religious, Zoroastrian or Mazdaic, orthodoxy and simultaneously forcefully underlines the importance of Elamite traditions alongside the Indo-Iranian heritage. In the end, then, the new evidence once more eloquently demonstrates what may be the most important trait of Persian culture: the ability to reach synthesis.
Mark B. Garrison is professor of Art and Art History, Art and Art History at Trinity Uni-versity (San Antonio, Texas) and an expert of Achaemenid glyptic art. Wouter F. M. Henkelman is Humboldt Research Fellow at the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut as well as assistant professor of Elamite and Achaemenid Culture at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris). Garrison and Henkelman have been collaborating closely for almost ten years in the edition and study of the Persepolis Fortification archive.This will be a joined presentation in which the lecturers will speak alternately. The presentation will be in English, but it will be supported by a PowerPoint in German; the discussion will be in English and German.
The event will be followed by a wine reception.




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