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The Iranian Expanse explores how kings in Persia and the ancient Iranian world utilized the built and natural environment—everything from royal cities, palaces, and paradise gardens, to hunting enclosures, fire temples, and landscapes shaped by rock art and ancient ruins—to form and contest Iranian cultural memory, royal identity and sacred cosmologies. While studies of the art and architecture of ancient Persia or Islam have often noted startling continuities between the traditions of the Achaemenids and the art and architecture of medieval or Early Modern Islam, the tumultuous millennium between Alexander and Islam has routinely been downplayed or omitted. The Iranian Expanse delves into this fascinating period. Taking a radically different approach, Canepa examines royal culture and identity as something that was built and shaped with changes to architectonic and urban spaces and the landscape of Western Asia. Canepa shows how the Seleucids, Arsacids and Sasanians played a transformative role in the development of a new Iranian royal culture that impacted both early Islam and the wider Persianate world of the Il-Khans, Safavids, Timurids and Mughals.
Matthew P. Canepa is Associate Professor of Ancient Art and Archaeology at the University of Minnesota.