Ancient Greek-Iranian Cross-Cultural Encounters in Iran (c. 550 BC – AD 651)

Antigoni Zournatzi

The geographically remote and culturally distinct worlds of ancient Greece and ancient Iran were brought into direct contact with each other as a consequence of successive Persian and Greek aspirations to world conquest and rule. In the mid-sixth century BC, far-flung conquests by the founder of the Persian empire, Cyrus the Great, marked the beginning of a two centuries long era of intense Greek-Persian interaction, in particular in the eastern Mediterranean. The campaigns of Alexander the Great in the 330s BC ushered in a new period of Greek-Iranian contacts in the East, leaving a legacy that was to be echoed in the Iranian world long after the collapse of the Greek-Macedonian regime, down to the beginning of the Islamic era and beyond.

Focusing on the territory of the modern state of Iran, this presentation highlights certain representative instances of the archaeological evidence available for investigations of the political, ideological, social, technical and economic networks which shaped the symbiosis and promoted the mutual enrichment of the Greek and Iranian cultures during the Achaemenid (ca. 550 - 331 BC), Alexandrine-Seleucid (330 - ca. 150 BC), Parthian (ca. 150 BC - AD 224) and Sasanian (AD 224 - 651) periods. The materials encompassed are linked to an ongoing project of research on the encounters between the Iranian and Greek civilizations in antiquity (

Researcher: Dr Antigoni Zournatzi

Research Assistant: Mr Abazar Shobairi (PhD Candidate, University of Athens)