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Dan Potts Presents Lecture at the New York Society Library

By Maggie Pavao

Long before archaeological excavations began to reveal the magnificence of the ruins at Persepolis, Ancient Iran was an object of enormous interest in the West. This early curiosity about pre-Islamic Iranian antiquity, particularly the Achaemenid Persian, Parthian (or Arsacid) and Sasanian empires, is captured in hundreds of books, beginning with those that contained editions of the major Classical sources containing data on ancient Iran, and moving on to eyewitness accounts by travellers, often accompanied by engravings illustrating Persepolis and other important monuments in the region. Concurrently, there appeared all over Europe plays and operas centering on the lives and deeds of Cyrus the Great, Darius, Xerxes and other ancient Iranian monarchs which added a human dimension to those written accounts of the Persian court and engravings of palaces and tombs that circulated ever more widely across Europe from the late 15th through the 18th centuries.

The lecture "Ancient Iran in the Mediaeval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Consciousness of Europe: The Printed Word, the Graven Image, the Learned Traveler, and the Stage" will be presented on June 1st at 6:30pm at the New York Society Library in connection with their exhibition Broken Beauty: Ruins of the Ancient World. Additional related books from the Library’s Special Collections will be on display for this evening only. Tickets are $15 and advance registration is required here.


Daniel T. Potts received his AB (1975) and PhD (1980) in Anthropology from Harvard, specializing in Near Eastern archaeology. He taught previously at the Freie Universität Berlin (1981-86), the University of Copenhagen (1980-81, 1986-1991) and the University of Sydney (1991-2012) where he held the Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair of Middle Eastern Archaeology. His main areas of interest are Iran, Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf and as a field archaeologist he has conducted excavations in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The founding editor-in-chief of the journal Arabian Archaeology & Epigraphy, he is a Corresonding Member of the German Archaeological Institute and ISMEO (Associazione Internazionale di Studi sul Mediterraneo e l'Oriente). His books include Nomadism in Iran: From antiquity to the modern era (2014), In the Land of the Emirates: The archaeology and history of the UAE (2012); Mesopotamia, Iran and Arabia from the Seleucids to the Sasanians (2010); Excavations at Tepe Yahya, 1967-1975: The third millennium (2001); Ancient Magan: The secrets of Tell Abraq (2001);The Archaeology of Elam (1999, second revised edition 2016); Mesopotamian Civilization: The material foundations (1997); Supplement to the Pre-Islamic Coinage of Eastern Arabia (1994); Further excavations at Tell Abraq: The 1990 season (1991); The Pre-Islamic Coinage of Eastern Arabia (1991); A prehistoric mound in the Emirate of Umm al-Qaiwain: Excavations at Tell Abraq in 1989 (1990); The Arabian Gulf in Antiquity (1990); and Miscellanea Hasaitica (1989). He is the editor of the two volume Blackwell Companion to the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East(2012) and the Oxford Handbook of Iranian Archaeology (2013).