Annelies van de Ven

‘The Many Faces of the Cyrus Cylinder: Displaying Contested Objects as Constellations’ (PhD in Classics & Archaeology, 2018).

Archaeological artefacts and sites are never just singular entities. Rather, they function as constellations, accruing various meanings and associations throughout their lives. For researchers as well as museum professionals, this polyphony challenges any straightforward reception, necessitating a series of choices as to the object’s interpretation. In this thesis, I use archives and exhibition analysis to write an object biography for the Cyrus Cylinder. The Cyrus Cylinder utterly defies traditional museological approaches to archaeological artefacts as singular objects with a linear progression of use, abandonment and rediscovery, written as a simple tale of cause and effect. As is the case with our own biographies, the life of the Cyrus Cylinder is complex, and is interpreted differently depending on the context of engagement. By developing a strategy for approaching this object, my thesis provided a model for advancing pathways in the display and dissemination of contested sites and artefacts.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Andrew Jamieson, Associate Professor Richard Pennell, (previously) Dr Mammad Aidani.