Reconstructed wall fragment from an Achaemenid palace at Susa, ca. 500 B.C., now housed at the Louvre.
Ancient Iran had a pivotal role in world history, spanning parts of Asia, Europe, and Africa at its height and contributing to global literature, technology, and religion. Unfortunately, Ancient Iran receives only a fraction of the time and resources devoted to the study of Greece and Rome. In the spring of 2018, a group of faculty, students, and community members convened at the University of Washington to address this problem by designing a major public event to explore Ancient Iran's place in global history.
Thanks to the University of Washington's Near Eastern Languages and Civilization Department (NELC), we were able to collaborate with the Seattle-area Iranian community to put on Ancient Iran Day. Our event, which took place on December 1st, 2018, attracted more than 500 visitors from around Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest. Spread across five conference rooms, it included lectures, models, and thirteen thematic tables that explored Ancient Iran's vibrant history and culture through text, art, and archaeology.
We have prepared this website to commemorate the event and to serve as a continuing public resource for the study of Ancient Iran. We also recognize the richness and diversity of Iran's culture during the Islamic period, although our project's scope concludes with the end of the Sasanian Empire.
The website is divided into four sections:
The Ancient Iran Day section describes the preparation and logistics of this one-day public humanities event. We happily share on this website extensive materials for educators or community groups who want to create something similar. Our activities page includes free downloadable copies of all posters; links found throughout the site provide additional educational material.
- Community Contributions - a photo gallery of how local artists contributed to the exhibits.
- Photos - snapshots of the day itself.
- Activities and Posters - downloadable links for the handouts and games that we made.
- Online Resources - A select list of some of our favorite websites about Ancient Iran.
- Acknowledgements - thanking the many creative people who made Ancient Iran Day possible.
Timeline and Maps - A quick guide to the major phases of Iran's history before Islam. An array of maps tracks the country's fluctuating borders and explains what we mean by "Iran" in each period.
Exhibits showcase the thematic tables that we prepared for Ancient Iran Day.
Daniel Waugh Archaeological Photographs are a digital repository of objects, ruins, and landscapes collected by Daniel Waugh, a University of Washington emeritus professor of history, whose remarkable photographs of Iran form the core of many of the exhibits.
Please feel free to use the material you find on the website for classroom or educational purposes; all we ask is that you credit the University of Washington's NELC department. If you have any questions, please contact us here.