Ancient Persian studies
The influence of ancient Persia permeates Western civilization from the Bible to Herodotus to the running of marathons. In 1931, the Oriental Institute became the first American institution to conduct archaeological excavations in Iran, and since then ancient Persian studies have flourished at the University of Chicago as a result of the Oriental Institute’s broad research agenda. Through the Oriental Institute, the University of Chicago is one of the few American universities to maintain and expand the study of ancient Persian history, archaeology, and languages. A continuing commitment to attract and retain outstanding ancient Persian studies scholars will ensure that the Oriental Institute and the University of Chicago can maintain our longstanding position as a leader in the study of this vital civilization. It will also ensure that the OI is well positioned to complete expansive projects such as the Persepolis Fortification Archive and leverage opportunities for future archaeological excavations at ancient Persian sites as relations with modern Iran permit.
Support for ancient Persian studies faculty at the Oriental Institute will create two new endowed professorships in the field focused on ancient language and in ancient Persian archaeology. These professorships will enable the OI to increase understanding of this historically and artistically important culture while maintaining the University of Chicago’s role in the forefront of this important discipline.