A Paradise in the Caucasus

An Achaemenid Residence in Azerbaijan

Florian Knauss

Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, München

Contrary to its immense historical impact on the cultures of the Ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean, the Achaemenid Empire has been difficult to grasp archaeologically outside its centres, the impressive monumental complexes of Persepolis, Susa and Pasargadae. This is particularly surprising given the historic and epigraphic evidence for the existence of a very tight‐knit, efficiently organized administration. During the past 20 years, excavations led to new archaeological discoveries that have changed this picture. In a peripheral corner of the empire, the Southern Caucasus, administrative complexes were found which bear all hallmarks of ‘Iranian Achaemenid’ monumental architecture, from building standards to the physical organization of the landscape. This suggests that the Achaemenids did create and export within their realm a fundamentally new way of representing rulership, by managing space on an unprecedented scale and creating new imperial landscapes. Their ‘paradises’ were at the same time luxurious residences with spacious gardens and administrative centres, playing an important role for the control of the dependent territories.

Dr. Florian S. Knauß is Director of the Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek Muenchen. In addition, he is an elected member of the Commission for the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Between 1984 and 1992, he studied Classical Archaeology, Ancient History, Near Eastern Archaeology and Prehistory at the universities of Saarbruecken, Wuerzburg and Berlin. After receiving his Ph.D. at Saarbruecken with a dissertation on “Der Lineare Inselstil (The Linear Island Style), he became a scientific employee at the Institute for Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Saarbruecken (1993-1994). From 1994 until 2001, he was Assistant Professor at the Archaeologisches Seminar, University of Muenster. Since April 2001, Dr. Knauß has been Curator at the Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek in Munich. In May 2011, he became Director of these museums. Since 1994, Dr. Knauß has conducted archaeological excavations in Georgia and Azerbaijan together with colleagues from Tbilisi and Baku.

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