Undergraduate/Graduate Seminar: Persia and the West
This seminar will take an in-depth look at the relationship between ancient Persia (from the time of Cyrus the Great to the rule of the Sassanians) and its neighbors westward (specifically, Greece and Rome). Beginning with a survey of cultural and political events leading to the formation of the Persian Empire under Cyrus II, we will examine archaeological and textual material representative of the 200 year rule of the Achaemenid Persian kings, observing how artistic and cultural exchange with Greece manifested in the material record. We will take particular note of the ‘East Greek’ and Anatolian regions, where artistic synthesis can be observed in such material as funerary monuments and glyptic. We will then proceed with our archaeological and art historical analysis through the tumultuous histories of the Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanian eras. Viewing the material first from the standpoint of the Persians and their political descendants, and then conversely through the somewhat biased lens of their neighbors westwards, we will piece together a fascinating tableau of artistic and cultural disdain or admiration, emulation and rejection.
Required textbook and readings: Boardman, J., Persia and the West, 2000. There will also be a reader or selection of articles to aid with research.
Course requirements include two presentations and a final research paper. This course is open to both undergraduates and graduate students at UC Berkeley. No previous knowledge of the material is required.
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical areas (A) and Chronological period (I).