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Art History 100/IRAN 290: Hellenistic Asia

Spring 2021
Professor Matthew P. Canepa

This course explores the art, archaeology and history of Western, Central and South Asia and the Iranian world, broadly conceived, from the death of Alexander to the rise of the Sasanians. It will concentrate heavily on the development of architecture and urbanism under the Greco-Macedonian kingdoms that emerged on the Iranian plateau and Central Asia after the fall of the Achaemenids, and the Iranian-speaking peoples who eventually overthrew these Greek kingdoms and established their own empires. Thus the core of the class will be on the development of Seleucid Asia (from Syria to Bactria), the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Post-Achaemenid Pontos, Cappadocia, Arsacid Western Asia and Iran, Kushan Bactria and N. India and Sogdian to Transoxiana. Among other major themes, we will consider the common/competitive court cultures that emerged among the Seleucid, Bactrian and Indo-Greek courts; appropriation and transformation of Hellenistic culture in Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Central Asia in cities such as Hatra, kingdoms such as Commagene, Pontos, or Chorasmia, the interplay between nomadic and sedentary Iranian culture and the emergence of new forms of architecture and visual culture under the Parthians, Scythians, Kushans. In addition to an in-depth examination of the ancient sites and sources, this course will put the ancient material into dialogue with a select body of theoretical material stemming from archaeological, art historical and cultural studies discourse.