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The Iranian Expanse

Transforming Royal Identity through Architecture, Landscape, and the Built Environment, 550 BCE–642 CE

Matthew P. Canepa (Author)

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The Iranian Expanse explores how kings in Persia and the ancient Iranian world utilized the built and natural environment to form and contest Iranian cultural memory, royal identity, and sacred cosmologies. Investigating over a thousand years of history, from the Achaemenid period to the arrival of Islam, The Iranian Expanse argues that Iranian identities were built and shaped not by royal discourse alone, but by strategic changes to Western Asia’s cities, sanctuaries, palaces, and landscapes. The Iranian Expanse critically examines the construction of a new Iranian royal identity and empire, which subsumed and subordinated all previous traditions, including those of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Anatolia. It then delves into the startling innovations that emerged after Alexander under the Seleucids, Arsacids, Kushans, Sasanians, and the Perso-Macedonian dynasties of Anatolia and the Caucasus, a previously understudied and misunderstood period. Matthew P. Canepa elucidates the many ruptures and renovations that produced a new royal culture that deeply influenced not only early Islam, but also the wider Persianate world of the Il-Khans, Safavids, Timurids, Ottomans, and Mughals.
Matthew P. Canepa is Professor of Art History at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

"In this innovative study, Matthew Canepa shows how local dynasties of the pre-Islamic Middle East articulated their claims to legitimacy through creative engagement with the material remains and ideological legacies of earlier empires. With characteristic clarity and insight, Canepa reveals how elites in Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, and the Caucasus all tapped into the visual and narrative traditions of ancient Iran to forge their own technologies of power."—Joel Walker, Lawrence J. Roseman Endowed Associate Professor of History, University of Washington, Seattle

“This book is as expansive in scope as the phenomenon it explores. Never before have landscapes of power in Persia and the wider Iranian world received such exhaustive treatment. Canepa’s ambitious work will take its rightful place as a definitive text in the art, archaeology, and history of ancient Iran.”—Lori Khatchadourian, author of Imperial Matter: Ancient Persia and the Archaeology of Empires

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