October 7, 2004
Vol. 24 No. 2

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    OI scholars appear in film on Persepolis’ splendor

    By William Harms
    News Office


    Fragments of dishes from the ruins of Persepolis are among the Oriental Institute’s Persian Gallery collection. Archaeologists from the Oriental Institute excavated these items in the 1930s. They are remnants left behind by Alexander the Great and his army after they invaded the ancient Persian city.

    The glories of ancient Persia will unfold, thanks to modern computer-assisted graphics, when the Oriental Institute hosts the premiere of the Iranian film Persepolis Recreated on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

    The film, which was produced for the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, will be screened at 6 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. in Breasted Hall. Admission is free. The film will later be screened throughout the country.

    “We’re pleased that the film will be shown first at the Oriental Institute because of our strong connection to the archaeology of Iran,” said Matthew Stolper, the John A. Wilson Professor of Assyriology in the Oriental Institute and the College.

    “Archaeologists from the Oriental Institute did important work at Persepolis before World War II and continued working in Iran up until 1979. OI scholars who worked on the results of the Persepolis excavations transformed the study of ancient Iranian history and languages. We also have recently resumed our collaboration with colleagues in Iran.”

    Among the items on display in the Oriental Institute’s Persian Gallery are dishes that were smashed by the army of Alexander the Great as he destroyed Persepolis. The film on Persepolis comes at a time of renewed interest in Alexander, with the opening in early November of a major film on the Macedonian warrior’s life and the publication of a new biography.

    “This film will provide people who see the commercial film on Alexander a chance to see how Persepolis looked before he destroyed it,” Stolper said.

    This new production traces the history and function of the great Achaemenid palaces at Persepolis, which Oriental Institute archaeologists excavated in the 1930s.

    Featuring spectacular reconstructions of the palaces, the film explains the function of these magnificent, ancient buildings in connection with the Persian New Year Festival.

    The film is replete with grandeur and shows how huge columns topped with intricate capitals were used in the construction of monumental architecture. The film also has scenes of Persian royalty entering their palaces as their soldiers and attendants pay respect. Experts from the Oriental Institute also appear in the film, providing insights into the Persian Empire.

    Stolper and Farzin Rezaeian, the film’s director, will introduce the film at the premiere.

    Rezaeian went to high school in Chicago and returned to Iran, where he eventually became interested in filmmaking, specializing in the art and architecture of ancient Iran.

    The Iran House and the Iranian Cultural Society will hold a reception between the two screenings in the Holleb Gallery in the Oriental Institute.

    Copies of the film and its companion book, written by Rezaeian, will be available for purchase at the event.

    The Oriental Institute’s Membership and Education Offices and the University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies are co-sponsoring this event. For more information, call (773) 702-9513.