Persepolis and Robert Byron

Neither has any art. It was not easy for Byron to go and visit Persepolis: in his book, we curiously read about his exchanges with Herzfeld, the German archaeologist who was conducting excavations and research at the site. Herzfeld did not want to grant Byron any permission to visit and more importantly to take photos of…

Naqsh-i Rustam in Islamic Iran: the construction of an identity

All they ask is attention, and they get it, like a child or Hitler Robert Byron has never shown much interest in pre-Islamic Persian art. Similarly, when he arrived in Naqsh-i Rustam, on the 1st of March 1934, he was not at all impressed by the remains of the Persian civilizations. In his travelogue, he certainly recognizes…

The sad story of the Musalla Complex: art crime and destruction

It is a miserable story It is difficult to define the Musalla Complex in Herat. The name ‘Musalla’ can refer both to the whole complex and to the Mosque of Gawhar Shad that is part of it. Even Robert Byron is apparently confused, and use the word to describe first one and then the other. Musalla…

The Making of the Islamic Heritage

Every time I start a book review I ask myself why I bought the book. In this case, I think I had been intrigued by the name, and I decided to ‘buy’ it once I realized it could be downloaded for free (legally), without me chasing the publisher to have a review copy. The full…