Iran: Land of Great Kings, Shahs and Ayatollahs
Lecturer: John Osborne
Location: DESY Auditorium
Registration to attend the Study Day is required by 18 April, see below.
Contemporary Iran, the product of the revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini; the monumental architecture and reliefs of the ancient palace at Persepolis; the brilliant architecture and tilework of the mosques and palaces of the Islamic period.
The first part of this study day introduces the geographical, political and religious background, and explains how the Shi'a form of Islam originated and became the ruling creed in the late 20th century Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini.
The second part illustrates the rich and mighty Persian Empire that was contemporary with Classical Greece and ruled by Great Kings such as Darius and Xerxes. Their royal palace at Persepolis, destroyed (allegedly deliberately) by Alexander the Great, has monumental architectural remains and a wealth of relief sculpture which reveals the ethos of the Persian empire and the symbolism of kingship. There is a mention of Zoroastrianism, which was the official religion of the Iranians before the Islamic conquest.
The third part traces the development of architecture in the mosques and palaces of Iran, with an emphasis on their brilliant tilework and painting, through the Islamic period until the end of the 19th century. There is a section, for example, on the splendid buildings of Shah Abbas' early 17th century Isfahan, the subject of the British Museum exhibition in Spring 2009. There are mentions of some of Persia’s classic gardens, and the art of book illustration is also included, with beautiful examples from the classic period of Persian miniature painting and literature.
John Osborne graduated in Classics at Cambridge University. He taught Classics at Marlborough College for over thirty years and worked for the British Council in Iran and Turkey. He lectures in Islamic Civilisation and is a Tutor, Marlborough College Summer School and Lecturer, Department of Continuing Education, University of Bath. He is a guide at Salisbury Cathedral and lecturer on cruises and leader of numerous study tours to Bulgaria, Romania, Iran, and Turkey and other countries in S.E. Europe and the Mediterranean.
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