A research project of the Department of Archaeology.
This project is an ongoing one that is bringing together and reappraising the value and uses of art and architecture in the landscapes of Anatolia, modern Turkey, during the period of the Achaemenid Persian Empire (c. 547-332 BC), with a focus on the early Empire period, c. 547-450 BC.
It is during this period that there is an increase in the construction and visibility of monumental tomb buildings, some of which were additionally decorated with articulate, if now deteriorated, images in sculpture and paint. The project has developed out of doctoral research by Catherine Draycott that used imagery on tombs as a key source for the social identities of Anatolians, who are known on the one hand through the lenses of ancient Greek authors such as Herodotus, and on the other through Persian royal inscriptions. In the absence of ‘indigenous’ literary sources, the rich imagery of tombs, as well as the architectural forms developed, can supply information on the priorities and concepts important to people we know as ‘Lydians’, ‘Mysians’, ‘Phrygians’ and ‘Lycians’.
Through detailed studies of individual monuments and groups of monuments, the project expands that work in three tightly-interlaced areas:
Durham Laidlaw Scholar (Leia Tilley) was taken on as a mentee and has developed specific research into the environmental archaeology of the Manyas Plain of Turkey, around a key Achaemenid period Anatolian centre.
Image above: Reconstruction of new-style ‘heroons’ (shrine-like cenotaphs to heroic figures) constructed to enhance the ‘acropolis’ of Xanthos in Lycia, SW Turkey, between about 470-50 BC. (French Mission to Xanthos.)
Image above: Yılan Taş, or the Broken Lion Tomb, in the Köhnüş Valley of the Phrygian Highlands, c. 475 BC. The once monumental tufa-rock-cut tomb, which long ago collapsed, points to the presence of a highly connected party in a land that has tended to be thought of as an unproductive backwater in the Achaemenid period. Photo by C.M. Draycott