Author Interview: John Curtis Studies in Ancient Persia

Meet the former Keeper of the Middle East Department at the British Museum as he answers questions about his upcoming book on Ancient Persia.

What inspired you to write Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period?

This book is a collection of essays in honour of Terence Mitchell. At its core is a long essay by Terence himself. When I became CEO of the Iran Heritage Foundation I promised to try and get this essay published for him, and I hit on the idea of combining it with a Festschrift, and now here it is.

What does your writing process consist of?

I research and write whenever I have time, either during my normal working day or in evenings and weekends.

Who was Terrence Mitchell to you, and how has he influenced you and your work?

Terence was a colleague at the British Museum 1971-1989, and for the last 7-8 years of that period he was head of the Department of the Middle East. I succeeded him as Keeper.

What most interests you about the future of archaeological work in Iran, and the study of Achaemenid Period?

Incredible archaeological discoveries have ‎been made in Iran since the time of the revolution in 1979 and continue to be made. In spite of this, there is still much to be learnt about the Achaemenid period, many aspects of which remain elusive.

To whom will Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period appeal most?

Those with a scholarly interest in the Iranian history, archaeology and the Achaemenid period, ‎and those interested in Biblical studies.

What will be your next project?

I am co-curating a major exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Iran that will open in October 2020.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading the Peter Francopan books as I admire the way he paints with a broad brush and puts things into context.

Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period available for pre-order.

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