The Iconography of War and Violence in Persia and the Near East
Published on March 2, 2023
Written by Clare Parry

October 2022 | BIPS Travel Grant

The Iconography of War and Violence in Persia and the Near East

The travel grant offered by the British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS) was used to enable me to present an in-person paper for the Lyceum Classics Community Seminar with the Department of Classics at University College London (UCL).

My paper focused on the iconography of Persia and the Near East, discussing the importance of display in the communication of imperial ideology and how such images can in turn enable a reinterpretation of Isaiah 14:24-24 through iconographic exegesis. The Biblical text helped structure the paper and spilt the discussion into themes, before using the iconography to discuss the history and culture behind them. This in turn allows for reinterpretation of the Biblical text, considering the historical evidence. I used my own line drawings throughout the presentation for my discussion and analysis of the theme of violence in Persian and Near Eastern iconographic display. I was also able to discuss ideas of cognitive theory and viewership to highlight the emotive aspect of ancient Persian and Near Eastern art through the interpretive gaze. The paper was well received by an in-person and online audience and the research presented will form parts of my introduction and third thesis chapter, focusing on imperial display along the theme of ‘Warfare and Victory’.

This seminar allowed me to present my ongoing research, and bringing in aspects from previous work to the postgraduate community at UCL and engage in discussion after the conclusion of the paper. This allowed me to explore alternate avenues as the audience brought their own perspectives from their expertise of the ancient Mediterranean to the topic, allowing for a fruitful discussion around the theme of displays in antiquity.  Furthermore, this experience proved to myself my knowledge of ancient Persia when answering questions from an audience not as familiar with Persian studies. Furthermore, the schedule for the seminar series reveals that my paper was the only to not feature on the ancient Mediterranean or related topics. Thus, this broadens the scope of the series, allowing me to promote Persian and Near Eastern culture and history to a wider audience. Though some in attendance had encountered parts of this history before, it has often been through a Greco-Roman lens and focused don textual, rather than iconographic, evidence. Thus, this was a positive way to present the ‘Persian Version’ of history and demonstrate the value of Persian and Near Eastern studies.

The hybrid seminar allowed me to reach a wider audience, engaging with academics, students from other universities and members of the public. This allowed me to receive feedback from a variety of sources, on my delivery and research. This will aid my thesis progression and my public speaking skills for future papers and conferences. The generosity of the BIPS travel grant allowed me to present my research, engage in wider discussion, gain feedback, and build networks at the Lyceum Community Seminar series. This experience increased my self-confidence in my knowledge and presenting skills. I am very grateful to the British Institute of Persian Studies for their provision of a travel grant.


Clare Parry is a PhD candidate at Cardiff University where she works on the practices of Displaying Empire in the ancient Near East.





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