On November 3 I will give a lecture at the symposium Between Art and Asset: Silver Vessels from Antiquity to Today at the Harvard Art Museums. My lecture is entitled “Achaemenid Persian Silver: Notes on the Fungibility of Meaning.” I’ve posted the abstract below:
The functions of silver in antiquity are easily discernible from the surviving objects made of it. But, as in the present day, ancient silver had multiple meanings; it could be a status symbol, a mark of royal favor, or currency. My goal is to examine the evidence for the various meanings of silver in the Achaemenid Persian Empire (c. 550-330 BCE), and to consider how these meanings, like the metal itself, could be readily transformed.
I’ll be discussing a number of objects in the Harvard and Met collections, as well as the concepts of value and social and economic capital.