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At the Crossroads of Asia
A New $2.5 Million Bequest Will Fund Studies of Iran

By Jose Rodriguez, University Relations
Posted February 10, 1999

Photo: Guitty Azarpay

Guitty Azarpay

As far back as the second century B.C., a lucrative trade network linked China and Europe across the rich and vibrant culture of ancient Persia. Two millennia later, the Silk Road now lures a different breed of voyagers -- scholars focused on Iran -- whose work here at Berkeley will be greatly enhanced by a newly established Iranian Studies Culture Fund.

While Iran was the center of an ancient and remarkable civilization, it is little understood in the United States today, according to Guitty Azarpay, professor emerita of Near Eastern Studies, a leading scholar of Near Eastern Art, whose name and work is honored by the fund.

Created with a bequest of property by an anonymous donor, estimated at $2.5 million in value, the fund includes a number of components. The three-year Guitty Azarpay Fellowship, to begin this fall, will allow Berkeley to recruit top students focusing on Iranian art and archaeology.

In subsequent years, and in perpetuity, the fund will support:

  • the Guitty Azarpay Visiting Professorship,
  • an Iran-Berkeley exchange program for faculty and graduate and postdoc students,
  • acquisition of library materials on ancient Iran,
  • conferences and symposia on Iranian and Silk Road art and archaeology, and
  • publications on Iranian art and archaeology.
"The institution of these funds at Berkeley," said Azarpay, "is justified by the long-standing commitment of this campus to the advancement of Iranian studies, which began with the appointment here, in the 1960s, of Walter Bruno Henning, the renowned Iranologist." Henning's chair is now held by one of his students, Professor Martin Schwartz.

Other campus specialists on Iran, in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, are Professors Hamid Algar, in Persian; David Stonach, in archaelogy; and Azarpay, in art history. Berkeley scholars on Iran also include Professor William Brinner, studying its history and civilization; Professor Anne Kilmer, in Elamite and Assyriology; and Professor Wolfgage Heimpel, in ancient Near Eastern glyptics.

The fund will be managed by the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, two of the nation's most prestigious programs in this area.


February 10 - 16, 1999 (Volume 27, Number 22)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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