Abstract: Right Good Men? The Median Palace of Godin Tepe


“When the Assyrians had held sway over Upper Asia for five hundred years, the first to begin to revolt against them were the Medes:  these in fighting the Assyrians proved themselves right good men, cast their slavery from them and were free again.”

The Greek historian Herodotus wrote these words 2,500 years ago—some 150 years after the event—but modern scholarship still does not understand a great deal more about the Medes and their revolt than Herodotus did. The horse-riding Medes of the Zagros Mountains are referred to often in Assyrian royal reliefs, inscriptions, and letters: they are described as numerous, mighty, treacherous, and diplomatic, and their leaders are given the distinctive title bēl āli (head of a city). But the Assyrians can offer us only a very distorted view of the Medes whom they were trying to subdue.  The recent publication by the author of the excavation of Godin Tepe, one of the few archaeological sites that can be securely identified with the Medes, provides some new first-hand evidence for Median society. The massive storage rooms, restaurant-sized kitchen, and elaborate columned throne room of the citadel-palace of Godin must have been built by a Median bēl āli intent on receiving and entertaining on a large scale. In this talk the author presents the evidence from Godin, including an animated video reconstruction of the palace, and considers what the site can tell us about Median society in the ninth to seventh centuries BCE.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Gopnik, H. and Rothman, M.. 2011. On the High Road: The History of Godin Tepe, Iran. 

         Royal Ontario Museum and Mazda Press.

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