Reading Mr. Jonathan Jones’ article,
“The evil empire,” in your reputable newspaper (Guardian
This is unfortunate because at this critical time when the polarization of the world is increasingly becoming nasty, ugly, and dangerous, Mr. Jones’ article would simply serve as fodder to the attitude that in part has been responsible for today’s geopolitical quagmire we are witnessing now.
Mr. Jones’ primary source of information to bash Persian Achaemenids—and by extension the East—seems to be Herodotus. First, the Greeks, as Jones claims, did not invent history. History is a process. In his monumental work, The Persian Wars, Herodotus invented historical narrative, peppered with an attempt to explain historical events by appealing both to divine intervention and logic.
It is important to remember that
Herodotus spent most of his time in
Prior to the mid-fifth century BC,
the heart of Greek intellectual achievement was not in mainland
While Darius I was busy improving the infra-structure of his empire by building highways, establishing postal service, digging a canal connecting the Nile to the Red Sea, regulating measures and weight for commerce, to name a few, Alexander kept himself busy conquering and plundering one nation after another until his death.
But the greatest contribution of the Persian Achaemenids was the preservation and development of the millennia-old ancient Near Eastern civilization they inherited. This brings us to Mr. Jones childish criticism of formal Persian art. Mr. Jones does not understand that ancient Near Eastern art is defined by a set of conventions that developed in the course of thousands of years, and that the Persians preserved and improved upon it. Movement, portraiture, frontal views and overlapping figures, as Mr. Jones claims, are not necessarily strong criteria to judge formal, monumental art and architecture. These characteristics can, however, be found in the minor art of the Persian Achaemenids, particularly in the gold work and utilitarian objects and glyptic.
Abbas Alizadeh (Ph.D.)
Senior Research Associate
Director of Iranian prehistoric Project
The Oriental Institute
Telephone no.: 773-702-9531
... Payvand News - 9/19/05 ... --