Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World at the Getty Villa Museum

ANDAncient Iran, known historically as Persia, was the dominant nation in Western Asia for more than a millennium (between 550 BC and 650 AD), with three indigenous dynasties – the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids – controlling empires of unprecedented size and complexity. Their main military rivals at this time were the ancient Greeks and Romans, with whom they nevertheless maintained active exchanges on many aspects of architecture, religion and court culture, as evidenced by the works of art they produced.

This spring, the Getty Villa Museum presents the exhibition Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World, the first major exhibition in the United States to highlight the relationship between the classical world and ancient Iran. In addition to the spectacular ancient works on display that explore the artistic and cultural ties between the rival powers of Iran, Greece and Rome, the exhibition is supported by two innovative digital experiences: an immersive 360-degree film at the Villa and a website. .

“The military rivalry between the ancient Persian empires, which controlled much of the modern Middle East, and the Greeks and Romans of the eastern Mediterranean, determined for more than a thousand years the geopolitical map of Eurasia, the Greater -Brittany in the west to the border of India in the East At the beginning of the 5th century BC, the Greeks repelled against all odds a series of Achaemenid invasions which would have changed the Europe’s cultural trajectory Two and a half centuries later, Alexander Magnus’ conquest of the East overthrew the Achaemenids, but it also inspired a crossroads of cultures and traditions that marked an era. main Mediterranean power from the 2nd century BC made the clash of the titans inevitable.

On more than one occasion, the fate of Europe and the Middle East depended on the outcome of mighty battles between Roman emperors and Parthian and Sasanian kings. However, through all these violent vicissitudes, an active exchange of goods, languages, ideas, beliefs and artistic visions flourished back and forth, reflecting a strong mutual respect. We see this most clearly in the imperial imagery which celebrated its kings and rulers and which was propagated by both the Persians and their Greek and Roman adversaries. When we reflect on the most significant turning points in Eurasian history, there has perhaps been no more memorable encounter than that between Persia and the classical world,” says Timothy Potts, director of Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle at the J. Paul Getty. Museum.

“The many spectacular exhibits are extraordinary expressions of Persian political and cultural identity, and many of them are among the most famous masterpieces of Persian art. point the blending of traditions has been fruitful for both cultures in very different artistic and cultural forms, as can still be seen in certain aspects of our visual arts today.”

Potts adds: “I am particularly pleased that visitors to the exhibition can also explore some of the highlights of ancient Iranian art and architecture through digital technologies. Two innovative digital experiences – an immersive one in the Villa and a accessible online – will allow visitors to walk in the footsteps of a Persian dignitary through a digital reconstruction of the spectacular Achaemenid palace of Persepolis These new tools, combined with the latest knowledge, can provide a dynamic and interactive engagement with distant places and cultures , and we hope to expand its use in the future.

Ancient works on display include royal sculptures, spectacular luxuries, religious images, and historical documents collected from major museums in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

“Many remarkable artifacts from ancient Iran spanning approximately 1,200 years will be on display for the first time in the United States,” adds Jeffrey Spier, senior curator of antiquities for Anissa and Paul John Balson II at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “We are honored to bring this exhibit to Southern California, home to the largest Iranian community outside of Iran, and major academic centers dedicated to the study and appreciation of history, Iranian art and culture.”

Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World is the second in the Getty Museum’s The Classical World in Context program, a series of exhibitions and related publications that explore the relationship between the classical world of Greece and Rome and their neighboring cultures of North Africa and the Middle East. Middle East to Central Asia. The series’ inaugural exhibition was Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World in 2018. The series will continue in 2024 with Thrace and the Classical World.

Persian King Cyrus the Great and his Achaemenid successors established the largest and most powerful empire in the ancient world. However, its importance in history lies not only in territorial or military power, but in creating a successful model of centralized government over several peoples with different customs, religions, laws and languages, which allowed various cultures to coexist and prosper within a unified state structure. The political institutions and artistic ideas introduced by the Achaemenid Persians greatly influenced later empires, providing a base for the Seleucid Greeks, Parthians, Romans and Sassanids.

The first part of the exhibition examines the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire in the middle of the 6th century BC. BC, when Cyrus the Great captured western Asia Minor (in present-day Turkey) and conquered the Greek colonies in the region. Achaemenid sculptures, silver vessels and jewelry are on display along with Greek depictions from the Persian Wars (490-79 BC). The long-established Greek cities on the west coast of Asia Minor and the indigenous peoples of neighboring Lydia, Caria and Lycia initially resisted Persian demands for submission, but eventually agreed to live in a great empire. These regions produced works in the Greek and Persian styles, reflecting the complex cultural influences that surrounded them.

The second part of the exhibition begins around 330 BC. BC, after the conquest of the Achaemenid Empire by Alexander The Great. The victorious Greeks inherited dominance over Iran and much of the ancient Middle East for a time, but in the 3rd century BC another Persian dynasty arose, the Parthians, which soon became the dominant state in the Middle East, remaining in power for many years. almost five hundred years. It was also the main rival of Rome, which replaced the Greeks as the new Mediterranean superpower, with the border regions of Mesopotamia being a frequent battleground. The Parthian art on display, including lavish silver drinking vessels made for the Parthian aristocracy, is highly eclectic, displaying a mix of nomadic Greek, Mesopotamian, Achaemenid and Iranian influences.

The last section of the exhibition is devoted to the Sasanian Empire, which from 224 AD created a new image of itself in Iran, with royal regalia and splendid royal art, more centralized administration , the foundation of many cities and an aggressive army. Politics. Despite almost constant warfare, the Romans and Sassanids recognized the benefits of maintaining a balance of power and often joined forces to fight mutual enemies until the Arab conquest in 651. On display are palace decorations and plates and ornate Sasanian silver bowls with depictions of royal court life, as well as late Roman and Byzantine silverware that served similar purposes.

The exhibition is supported by a fully immersive film that transports visitors to the lavish palaces and audience halls of Persepolis during its heyday as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The five-minute “Palace Experience” takes audiences on the route ancient visitors would have followed through the capital, from the Gate of All Nations to the Apadana and other structures in palaces and halls of hearing. Located in a gallery on the first floor of the Villa, the film offers a 360-degree experience in high definition using the same new media technology used by The Mandalorian disney. (“The Palace Experience” requires a separate timed advance ticket, which is free and available on site.)

An online digital experience created on the sidelines of the exhibition allows visitors to fly over a 3D recreation of Persepolis and take an interactive “walk” through the palaces, terraces, audience halls and chambers of the vast complex in southern Italy. animating the many relief sculptures and architecture with their original colors and textures.

As visitors move through the rooms, they can zoom in on 3D images of the coins, vessels, inscriptions and reliefs that would have been used in these spaces. This highly interactive web experience will be available in eight languages, including Persian, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese (simplified and traditional), English, French and Spanish, bringing ancient Persepolis to life for visitors from all over the world. is now available at getty.edu/persepolis.[Laexperienciaenlíneayaisáavailableengettyedu/persepolis[Laexperienciaenlíneayaestádisponibleengettyedu/persepolis

Persia: Ancient Iran and the Classical World is on display at Getty Villa Museum since April 6 to August 8, 2022. The exhibit is curated by Timothy Potts, Jeffrey Spier, and Sara E. Cole, Associate Curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog written by the curators. Dr. Ali Mousavi, associate professor of Iranian archeology, and Dr. Farzad Amoozegar, director of the Iranian Music Program and UCLA Persian Music Ensemble, served as advisors for both digital initiatives.

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