On the left, a limestone head of a male statue with curly hair and beard and a wreath of leaves on his head. On the right, a marble portrait of an ageing man with curling beard and moustache.

Members' conference

Great civilisations: Greece and Persia

Members' conference / Members' exclusive / 17 Jun 2023


Event information

17 Jun 2023


BP Lecture Theatre; and online via Zoom


  • £75 (Members)
  • £35 (Members online)


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Explore two of the most powerful civilisations in the ancient Mediterranean world: Greece and Persia. 

Simultaneously neighbours and enemies, to best understand these two great powers, it's crucial to move beyond their isolated study. From long-term interactions to flashpoints in time, delve into the past to discover how these civilisations shaped each other's material culture, wealth and warfare. 

Members are invited to join us for this exclusive day-long conference, featuring a series of talks by leading experts on the ancient Greek and Persian worlds.

Booking information

You can join this event in person, or via Zoom.

Attend in person – £75 - Sold out

  • Book now to secure your place in the BP Lecture Theatre. If you're experiencing any difficulties with booking or have any further queries, please contact the Membership Office at friends@britishmuseum.org or on +44 (0)20 7323 8195.
  • Please note this conference will be held at full capacity without social distancing measures in place. Hand sanitiser stations and additional cleaning measures will be in place throughout the evening.
  • Face coverings are recommended for the protection of yourself and others, unless you're exempt. 
  • This event includes a complimentary light lunch and refreshments throughout the day.

Attend online via Zoom – £35

  • Book now to secure your place via Zoom. If you're experiencing any difficulties with booking, or have any further queries, please contact the Membership Office at friends@britishmuseum.org or on +44 (0)20 7323 8195.
  • A link will be sent via email ahead of time for you to access the event. One ticket must be purchased for each household and the event link may not be shared.
  • Please note, the first talk will begin at 10.30 but you will be able to join the Zoom webinar from 10.15.
  • Read our Zoom booking form privacy policy.

The event will be recorded and made available to all Members at a later date, without charge.

Programme overview

10.00: Arrive – tea, coffee and biscuits

10.30: Welcome
Paul Collins

10.40: Assyria, Alexandria and beyond: cases of give and take in antiquity
St John Simpson

11.20: Persian silver: the power behind the throne
Henry Colburn

12.00: Transparent glass for an elite Greek society
Despina Ignatiadou

12.40: Light lunch

13.40: The gold of Persia
Jack Ogden

14.20: Tributes and tributaries: how the West looked East in the Iron Age
Tim Taylor

15.00: Break – tea, coffee and cake

15.30: The Persian Parthenon: Persia's influence on ancient Athens
Thomas Harrison

16.10: Luxury and power: creating the exhibition
James Fraser

16.50: Panel discussion
Hosted by Paul Collins

17.20: Closing remarks

17.30: Luxury and power exclusive exhibition opening until 19.00

About the speakers

Paul Collins is Keeper of the Middle East at the British Museum. He is well known to the British Museum from his time as curator of Later Mesopotamia and his role as lead curator on the Zayed National Museum project. Collins was formerly the curator of the Ancient Middle East at the Ashmolean Museum and has most recently been acting Keeper of the Ashmolean's Department of Antiquities. He is the author of Mountains and Lowlands: From Iran to Mesopotamia (2016) and The Sumerians: Lost Civilizations (2021).

Dr St John Simpson

Dr St John Simpson is the curator responsible for the ancient Iran, Central Asia and Arabia collections in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum. He has excavated extensively in Iraq and Central Asia.

Dr Henry Colburn

Dr Henry Colburn is adjunct faculty at New York University, Hofstra University and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and a research associate of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the art, archaeology and history of ancient Iran and its interactions with neighbouring regions. He is the author of Archaeology of Empire in Achaemenid Egypt (2020) and co-editor of In Search of Cultural Identities in Western and Central Asia: A Festschrift for Prudence Oliver Harper (2023).

Dr Despina Ignatiadou

Dr Despina Ignatiadou is Chief Curator of the Sculpture Collection in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and a leading specialist on glass in Classical Greece.

Dr Jack Ogden

Dr Jack Ogden is a British jewellery historian specialising in the study of early jewellery materials and techniques. He has written, taught and lectured widely on these subjects and is currently Visiting Professor in Ancient Jewellery Materials and Technology at the School of Jewellery, Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, BCU. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Life Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

Dr Timothy Taylor

Dr Timothy Taylor, MA PhD FSA FRSA, has been Jan Eisner Professor of Archaeology at Comenius University, Bratislava since 2020. He read Archaeology and Anthropology at St Johns College Cambridge and, following research at Oxford, Sofia, and Cambridge, he taught at the Department of Forensic and Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford, before moving to Vienna as full professor in 2012. He has broad research interests and for the past 15 years has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of World Prehistory.

Dr Thomas Harrison

Dr Thomas Harrison is Keeper of the Department of Greece and Rome at the British Museum. He has long-standing interests in the interactions of the Greek and Achaemenid worlds and his publications include The Emptiness of Asia. Aeschylus' Persians and the History of the Fifth Century (2000) and Writing Ancient Persia (2011). He has held posts at Liverpool and St Andrews universities and is one of the organisers of the Herodotus Helpline, a world-wide community of readers of Herodotus' Histories.

Dr James Fraser

Dr James Fraser is Curator for the Ancient Levant and Anatolia (supported by HENI) at the British Museum, where he is currently Lead Curator of Luxury and power: Persia to Greece. His monograph Dolmens in the Levant, was awarded the G. Ernest Wright Award for Best Archaeological Publication. He is directing an ongoing archaeological project excavating a 4,500 year-old olive oil 'factory' at the site of Khirbet Um al-Ghozlan in Jordan.

Privacy policy

The personal data you provide to us on the event booking form is being collected so that we can administer the event efficiently and, if necessary, contact you with important updates about the event. It will only be used by the British Museum for this purpose, it will not be shared with any third parties and it will be securely deleted as soon as the event has ended. This privacy information does not apply to the processing of your personal data by Zoom which will be governed by the terms of the agreement made between you and Zoom when you subscribed to their service.