ARC 118 H — Art and Archaeology of Persia
In this course, we will examine millennia of rich textiles, precious gemstone seals, metalworking, and engineering marvels like desert qanat aqueducts. Every week, we will encounter treasures well-known to archaeologists and art historians but unfamiliar even to most well-educated Westerners. Course highlights will include the fabulous Oxus Treasure hoard discovered in the 19th century, with its gold griffins, silver simurghs, and other fabulous animals, as well as some of the oldest metallurgical treasures in the world from Proto-Elamites, dating to 3100 BCE, before the Bronze Age. We will explore Sasanian silk, Persian rugs, and the story of deciphering cuneiform with the Behistun Rock. We will read Herodotus on Cyrus the Great and selections from literary masterpiece such as the medieval epic Shahnameh (Book of Kings), in which Rustam is a beguiling Persian hero. Such poignant tales, illustrated with incredible Safavid miniature paintings, predate the legendary stories of the beautiful Persian heroine Scheherazade.
Students can choose to attend this course on campus or online. Sign up for Section H if you think you might attend class on the Stanford campus at least once. There is no commitment—you can still choose to attend via Zoom for any session. Sign up for Section Z if you know you will exclusively attend via Zoom.