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Book: The Hunt for Ancient Israel

Chapter: Women’s Bravery: Jane Dieulafoy, Queen Parysatis, and the Reception of the Persian Empire in Nineteenth-Century France

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41657


“Ancient Persia and the “Persian Period” have been important for the production of biblical literature. This essay presents Jane Dieulafoy, French explorer, excavator of Susa, writer, and ethnographer, whose work complemented the knowledge produced by biblical scholars – through studies of material remains, archaeological excavations, and ethnographic fieldwork. Based on and inspired by her findings in the mentioned research areas, she turned her prize-winning novel on the Ancient Persian queen Parysatis into a libretto for a drame lyrique (an operatic sub-genre) of the same name, with incidental music by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The drama is discussed under the umbrella of reception history, including the reception history of the Persian Empire in the imperial ambitions of 19th Century France. Dieulafoy’s interest in the opera format, as demonstrated through the libretto for Parysatis, represents the convergence point for her research areas, cultural engagements and political entanglements

Chapter Contributors

  • Jorunn Okland ( - jokland) 'University of Oslo'