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The Persian Empire

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Active ImageAuthor: Lindsay Allen

ISBN13: 9780226014470
ISBN10: 0226014479
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Subject: Middle East
Subject: History
Subject: Ancient - General
Subject: Middle East - General
Subject: Iran
Subject: Iran History To 640.
Publication Date: December 2005
Binding: Hardcover
Language: English
Pages: 208

The British Museum exhibition "Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia" opened recently to the delight of critics and museumgoers alike. Taking full advantage of unprecedented loans from the National Museum of Iran, the Persepolis Museum, and the Louvre, the exhibition provides, in the words of the Guardian, a "first-rate" encounter with another culture. The Daily Telegraph called it "a triumph on many levels."

The Persian Empire, Lindsay Allen's beautifully illustrated companion volume to the exhibition, is also, in its own right, a triumph. One of the few accounts of its kind, Allen's comprehensive and accessible history deepens our understanding of this lost empire, providing general readers with a breadth of material that has been, until now, available primarily to scholars. In doing so, The Persian Empire broadens the perspective of those who have seen the exhibition and reveals a new world for those who haven't. Surveying written sources, art objects, warfare, politics, and archaeological sites, Allen supplements this illuminating history with descriptions of daily life in the world's first land-based dynastic kingdom, eventually conquered in 331 BCE by Alexander the Great.

While the victory of Alexander is well known, the kingdom he conquered is still something of a mystery, a fact that makes The Persian Empire even more valuable. Indeed, as Allen traces the evolution of the monarchy, showing how it fostered international communication and cultural exchange, she provides a new framework for understanding the land we now know as Iran. As interest in this subject increases, particularly in light of contemporary global affairs, The Persian Empire promises to be one of the most accessible histories of this powerful and elusive dynasty.

Beginning in the sixth century BCE, Persian kings ruled a vast, culturally diverse empire that stretched from northern Libya to central Asia. The regime and its rich multicultural traditions prospered for 250 years until its invasion, and eventual defeat, by Alexander the Great's army in 331 BCE. Yet until the British Museum's exhibition in the summer of 2005, the Persian perspective of this landmark event in world history will have been largely neglected. In one of the few accounts available, The Persian Empire provides a comprehensive and accessible portrayal of one of the world's first land-based dynastic kingdom.

In her cultural and political history of the development of this power, Lindsay Allen-whose posts in the Ancient Near East departments of the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art make her one of the leading authorities on Persia-surveys written sources, art objects, warfare, politics, archaeological sites, and 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 apart from an Asian one. 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.

Editorial Review

"A valuable resource, with up-to-date information and often cogent analysis."—Steven W. Hirsch, Classical Bulletin
(Steven W. Hirsch Classical Bulletin )

"[Allen] traces the rise of the monarchy, its interactions with nascent Europe, and examines Persian imperial legacies to provide a framework for understanding the land we now know as Iran."—Middle East Journal
(Middle East Journal )

"A must read for the scholar who is interested in the Persian Empire, the rise of Alexander the Great, and the biblical books of Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Daniel. The historical, geographic, and archaeological detail that permeates the book through the use of primary sources and archaeological data makes this work stand apart from its counterparts."—
Tiberius Rata, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
(Tiberius Rata Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society )

About the Author

Lindsay Allen has worked in the Ancient Near East departments of the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. She is currently a research fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.

Lindsay Allen is available for interviews. For more information please contact Megan Marz at (773) 702-7490 or
mm@press.uchicago.edu

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