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Journal Article

Persepolis in Retrospect: Histories of Discovery and Archaeological Exploration at the Ruins of Ancient Parseh

Ali Mousavi
Ars Orientalis
Vol. 32, Medes and Persians: Reflections on Elusive Empires (2002), pp. 209-251
Published by: Freer Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian Institution and Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4629597
Page Count: 43
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Persepolis in Retrospect: Histories of Discovery and Archaeological Exploration at the Ruins of Ancient Parseh
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Abstract

Since the fall of the Achaemenid empire in 330 B.C.E. the ruins of Parseh (Grk. Persepolis), in the imperial heartland region (modern Fars), have projected manifold aspects of symbolic power and mystique. Considerable attention has been devoted in Western scholarship to the investigations and perspectives of early European visitors to the site, followed by attention to the results of European and North American archaeological efforts. But comparatively little attention in Western scholarship is devoted either to Iranian symbolic associations with Persepolis or to the legacy of Iranian documentary and archaeological work there. This essay reviews a range of archival photographs and documents as well as published Iranian work to reveal new aspects of the history and historiography of Iranian engagement with Persepolis-following its destruction by Alexander and across the ages through the 1970s. In doing so, the article ponders the sense in which all the archaeological excavations at Persepolis have been expected to fulfill the double goal of symbolic conversation with highly charged notions of the past and scientific achievement with respect to empirical discovery. Through the intricacies of these crosscurrents, Persepolis has maintained its unique status in Iran as a national monument par excellence.

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