The State of Achaemenid Studies

Recorded: April 12, 2023
Event: Achaemenid Workshop 1
Citation: Wiesehöfer, Josef. "The State of Achaemenid Studies." Pourdavoud Center: Achaemenid Workshop 1 (April 12, 2023).

by Josef Wiesehöfer (University of Kiel)

This conference is intended to be the first in a series of conferences which – in the tradition of the Groningen “Achaemenid History Workshops” of the 1980s/1990s – like its predecessor, aims to highlight new perspectives in Achaemenid studies. As one of the first participants in the AHWs, I will give a brief overview of the state of research at the present time. Based on the AHWs – with their thematically bound, but at the same time also newly determining approaches to the hierarchies of tradition/sources and the expressiveness and intent of the testimonies – this paper will present and evaluate the state of research in the following fields of investigation: (a) on the situation of tradition in light of the new finds and the reassessment of source material; (b) on recent tendencies in the formation of theory, the questioning and methodology of Achaemenid research, and on recent forms of scholarly organization; (c) on old and new fields of research, including the most important new findings resulting from their treatment particularly on the position of the Persian empire in global-historical and Near Eastern as well as in epoch- spanning imperial and reception-historical contexts; (d) on the diversity of representations of the empire in later political and cultural, as well as transmission, contexts. This last part draws heavily on the approach of Strootman/Versluys (2017:9;16-17), in particular their distinction between Persianism (“ideas and associations revolving around Persia and appropriated in specific contexts for specific (socio-cultural or political) reasons”) and Persianization as a term for political and cultural influence of the Persian empire on contemporaries and posterity.

About the Speaker

Josef Wiesehöfer, born in 1951 in Wickede/Ruhr (Westphalia), retired Full Professor of Ancient History, Institute of Classics, Christian- Albrechts-University Kiel (1989–2016). He is a Member of the Academia Europaea, Corresponding Member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He specializes in the study of Pre‐Islamic Iran, the connections between the cultures of the Mediterranean and those of the ancient Near East and Central Asia as well as the history of scholarship. He is the author of Ancient Persia (Tauris 2001) and main editor of the series Oriens et Occidens.