Abstract: On the edge of Alexander’s world: the unfinished palace at Oğlanqala, Azerbaijan


Sometime between 400 and 200 BCE, probably shortly after Alexander the Great brought down the Persian Empire, somebody leveled the eighth-century BCE ruins that stood on the hill of Oğlanqala in Naxçivan, Azerbaijan. They then dragged huge limestone blocks from a distant quarry to the top of the hill and began to carve them into column bases and drums. Some of these column elements fit squarely with our knowledge of Hellenistic Greek architecture, but others are a peculiar and unique amalgamation of forms from the warring Achaemenid Persian and Hellenistic worlds. But before the columns were raised, the construction site was abandoned, leaving the whole project unfinished and forgotten. The evidence from this palace, recently excavated by a team from the University of Pennsylvania and Emory University, co-directed by Dr. Gopnik, gives us invaluable information about the power struggles and cultural mixing that happened on the chronological and geographic edge of Alexander’s conquests. This talk will use the striking remains from Oğlanqala to explore how Greek ideas and culture were integrated into the longstanding traditions of the Near East.



Short bibliography on lecture topic:


“On the Edge of Empire: 2008 and 2009 Excavations at Oğlanqala, Azerbaijan.” American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 116, No. 2 (April 2012), pp. 321-362.



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