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Classical scholarship, anthropology, and the historiography of the Achaemenid Persia (1900-1940): an intellectual inquiry

Samiei, S.; (2010) Classical scholarship, anthropology, and the historiography of the Achaemenid Persia (1900-1940): an intellectual inquiry. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The overarching aim of this thesis is to see how the ancient Iranian world in general, and that of the Achaemenid Empire (550-331 BC) in particular were depicted by the (mainly) British academics and intellectuals during the first four decades of the twentieth century. The significance of this period (along with its preceding fifty years) lies in the way in which comparative philology was playing an increasingly pivotal role in a number of academic disciplines. Because of the supposed Indo-European commonalities between the Greeks and Persians, many were compelled to frame these peoples within an entirely new set of spatial boundaries that was mostly defined by a demographic hypothesis, which recommended that the late Bronze Age Indo-European intruders from the Steppes were one of the main causes of a fundamental cultural shift in the region. The intellectual underpinnings of this new approach were manifold. These included ideas pertaining to race, culture (and the manner of its prehistoric acquisition), language, and mythological heritages. In addition, since Romantic Hellenism, almost exclusively, defined the way in which the Persian Wars and the conquests of Alexander were related by the classically-trained historians of the period, it was a challenge to accommodate this new – and largely anthropological – framework within the Hellenic scheme of things. By concentrating on the writings of the Oxford ancient historian, Sir John Linton Myres, amongst others, this work intends to pursue two closely connected lines of inquiry. First, because of his intellectual interest and versatility (classicists, anthropologist, philologist, etc.), a better understanding of his thoughts can go a long way in comprehending this manifold intellectual modus operandi. Second, without such an undertaking, there would be precious little context and almost no analytical foundation for the historiographical examination of those aspects of Greek history which are of some relevance to the Achaemenid Persians and the Iranian world.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Classical scholarship, anthropology, and the historiography of the Achaemenid Persia (1900-1940): an intellectual inquiry
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > History

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