Fragments: mapping the global Persepolis diaspora

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Invited talk


The first stone fragments from the royal structures on the terrace at Takht-i Jamshid left for Europe in 1705, with the Dutch artist Cornelis de Bruijn. Only one of his pieces is now extant, in Paris, where it travelled along learned networks of the late eighteenth century, because it was covered in cuneiform characters. The Persepolis Diaspora Project has traced the biographies of the majority of architectural fragments in museums outside Iran. The result is a portrait of the site in motion, migrating according to global currents of economic power, first to Amsterdam, then Bombay, Britain, Russia, Paris, and finally North America. This talk maps the diaspora of the fragments and charts the varying levels of destruction that produced them. A historiographical approach combines archival and object study to produce a granular analysis of how sites may be eroded in peacetime as well as during conflict. Our study also contributes to a base-line understanding of the state of preservation of this major world heritage site, and advances ideas about how we may relate its dispersed elements back to their source.
Period3 May 2017
Held atIran Heritage


  • Cultural Heritage
  • History of Archaeology
  • History of Collecting
  • East India Company
  • Iran
  • Art Crime
  • Museums