Nationalism, Politics, and the Development of Archaeology in Iran

by Kamyar Abdi
Nationalism, Politics, and the Development of Archaeology in Iran
Kamyar Abdi
American Journal of Archaeology
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Nationalism, Politics, and the Development of Archaeology in Iran



The relationship between nationalism, politics, and the development and practice of archaeolog?. has re- cently become a ~opular topic among archaeologiuts. Thiu paper review the relationuhip hetrveen nationalism, po- litical developments, and the rise and progreus of archae- ologv in Iran from the mid 19th century to the present. The Iranian reaction to foreign interference is inveuti- gated here, and the role Iran's past has played in rein- forcing nationalist sentiments is explored. It is argued that whenever the political uituation provided a favor- able environment, intellectuals and politicians, in vari- ous capacities, have exploited the archaeological and his- torical record, especially those of the Achaemenid and Sauanian empireu, to advocate their nationalist agendas. Thiu paper concludes with an assessment of the recent manifestations of Iranian nationalism in the post- revolutionary era, and its utilization of Iran's history and recent sociopolitical transformations.*

Nationalism-as an ideology that vests political rights and acconlplishments in a nation as a whole- in its different social, functional, temporal, and spatial manifestations has long been a fascinating topic for sociocultural anthropologists. Archaeolo- gists, on the other hand, have recently begun to devise new approaches to nationalism by explor- ing the relation between their profession and na- tionalism and the effects nationalist sentiments can leave on the development and practice of archae- oloCg in different parts of the globe.'

The Near East, owing to its rich archaeological and historical past and its contemporan sociocul- tural diversity, has been particularly interesting for exploring connections between nationalism, archaeology, and political manipulations of archaeo- logical record to advocate nationalist agendas.? This paper explores the very same questions in the case of a largely ignored country Iran. The Revolution of 1979 and the ensuing Iran-Iraq War of 1980- 1988 brought all archaeological fieldwork in Iran

*I would like to thank Kathryn Rabayan, Joyce hlarcuu, 1Ienry Wright, and anonymous reviewersfor reading and com- menting on earlier drafts of thiu paper. I would also like to thank Ada111 T. Smith for providing me with a copy of his un- published paper. Aqal~vayu, errors of facts and intet-pretationu,

by foreign expeditions to a halt. Of the European, Japanese, and North American archaeologists who rvere active in Iran, the younger generation has

sought fieldwork opportunities elsewhere, and the senior generation has tried to publish the results of their research before retirement or death. A1- though this hiatus during the Iranian revolution fostered many symposia and nunlerous publica- tions, which in all possibility would not have mate- rialized if fieldwork had continuetl in Iran, one should not ignore the fact that very few new archae- ologists have been trained in Iranian archaeolo~?, and courses on the archaeology of Iran have been dropped from many academic curricula. Conse- quently, Iran, once a major center for field research, has slipped into an archaeological isolation.

This situation may be changing. Recent devel-

opments in relations between Iran and many M'est-

ern countries, including the Unitecl States, prom-

ise an improvement in cultural exchange, and ar-

chaeological research in Iran by foreign expedi-

tions may soon resume. Therefore, time seems ripe

for a review of the development of archaeolo~?, na

tionalism, and political developments in Iran dur-

ing the past 100 years. Among rnany lessons to be

learned from this survey, one may begin to see why

Iran undel-went such drastic sociopolitical chang-

es and chose to go through political and archaeo-

logical isolation for so long.


Most Iranians evince nationalist sentiments. But nationalism expressed by members of different seg- ments of Iranian society demonstrates qualitative and quantitative differences. These differences emanate from Iranians' degree of historical consciousness, as well as their exposure to national and international intellectual currents. A semideveloped historical

remain solely my reuponsibilit);. I Cf. Trigger 1984; Kohl and Farvcett 1995; htkinson et al. 1996; Diaz-hdreu and Champion 1996. 'Cf. Silbernlan 1989; M'liitelam 1996; Meskell 1998.

consciousness characterizes Iranian society. For the general public this understanding is vague but in- controvertible and rarely exceeds mere description or speculation; it lacks either the vigor or the preci- sion that characterizes acadernic debates.

The nationalism of educated Iranians, on the other hand, is sophisticated and coherently ar- ticulated. A review of the relevant publications would show that educated Iranians are capable of producing thousands of pages on the glory of ancient Iran and its contribution to world cidi- zation. But, despite its academic aura, the nation- alism advocated by educated Iranians may also fall into the same pitfalls that characterize the nationalism of the general public. This is largely because of the fact that nationalism, among many other concepts and disciplines-including archaeology-was imported to Iran in the 19th cen- tury by Ll'estern-educated Iranians or the intro- duction of Ll'estern concepts into the Iranian so- ciety. As we will see in this paper, this lack of in- digenous development has prevented both na- tionalism and archaeology from a natural and gradual development in the context of Iranian culture-a problem that still troubles both.

The nationalism advocated by educated Iranians seems to fall into two broad categories: historical and political, both of which have proven to be po- tentially enduring. In the past few decades a minor undercurrent among Iranian intelligentsia has shown that Iranian historical nationalsim is capa- ble of approaching chauvinism, perhaps even rac- ism. There is no dispute that in the past century, Iranian nationalism frequently has been used po- litically, but the political nationalism that intermit- tently resurfaced in this time period demonstrates a displaced emphasis on Iranian nationalism. For political nationalists, ancient Iran is of little or no concern, and they may only sporadically use Iran's past to advocate their goals, which primarily include freeing contemporan Iran from foreign influence and ensuring that Iran asserts itself in the world scene. Historical nationalism, on the other hand, is characterizedby an elaborate, and sometimes crude, attempt to glorif'y the histon and culture of ancient Iran. Unlike its political counterpart, historical na- tionalism is only tangentially associated with poli-

iAhnanat 1997, 7.

hIeskoob 1992.

';\fshar 1927.

" Cf. Cottam 1978.

'X'aziri 1993.

'Cf. cle Morgan 1902,1903; hIovtafa~i 1935; Ma'soumi 1976


tics. Nonetheless, a glance at the recent histon. of

Iran shows that historical nationalism is swift to ad-

Lrocate its agenda whenever politics provides a fer-

tile environment.

No culture can survive or evolve in isolation, thus

coercive or cordial interaction with foreign cul-

tures through the ages has dramatically trans-

formed Iranian culture. Arguing that Iranian cul-

ture today is the same as at the time of the Achae-

menids or Sasanians is obviously incorrect, but

several persistent cult~~lral

traits suggest that some

degree of cultural continuity exists between con-

temporary and pre-Islamic Iran. The foundations

of Iranian culture laid in pre-Islamic times proved

to be resistant to sociopolitical change. Even be-

fore their resurrection in the Pahlavi period, pre-

Islamic traditions were influential in Iran. Espe-

cially in the case of the institution of kingship, it

has been argued that rulers of the Qajar dynasty

modeled their kingship after the Sasanian mon-

archy which was transmitted to the Islamic period

through general histories, instructions for king-

ship, and several versions of the Book of Kings, es

pecially the Shah Lizrnehof Ferdowsi.'

Perhaps the most vital factor in this cultural con-

tinuity and the hallmark of Iranian national identi-

ty is the Persian language. Having been used in

Iran at least since the time of Achaemenids in the

sixth century B.C.E., the Persian language has as-

sumed a distinctive Iranian character4 and become

intertwined with Iranian national identity and uni-

ty:j Not surprisingly, in recent times the Persian lan-

guage has been one of the most important contexts

in which Iranian nationalism has flourished.

This paper is not an attempt to study the devel-

opment of nationalism in Iran; others have studied

this topic, whether in its support" or denial.' My

goal here is to explore the elusive connection be-

tween nationalism, politics, the development of Ira-

nian archaeology, and the uses and abuses of ar-

chaeology and ancient histon in promoting nation-

alism in Iran in the past century and half. Follow-

ing some pioneering works,hfter the Revolution

of 1979, the histo]-) of archaeology in Iran has at-

tracted considerable attention, both among for-

eign!' and Iranian scholars.'" Most of these studies,

however, are either descriptive or are chronicles of

" Cf.Youilg 1986; Pen-ot 1989, 199'7; Chevalier 1989, 1992,

1997;Gi-an-,-\!merit and Gran-.A>-me~ic 1991; Carter 1992; Cur-

tis 1993; Larsen 1996; Gluck and Siver 1996; Dyvon 1997; cle


'I' Cf. Malek Shahmirzadi 1986,1987, 1990; *kkaii 1988; hl.

hIousa\i 1990,1994;X. Mousa\i 1992,1996; Chegini 1994;;ibdi


discoveries or administrative changes. A thorough study of the conceptual and methodological devel- opments of Iranian archaeology is yet to be done.




The second half of the Qajar dynasty (1787- 192.5) witnessed major changes in Iran, including the introduction of nationalism and archaeology. As Ll'estern countries were moving toward the In- dustrial revolution as well as political and econom- ic supremacy in the 19th century, Iran was suffer- ing from a severe social and economic depression under the Qajars. Several military confrontations with the Russian Empire in the early 19th century led to the loss of extensive territories in Transcau- casia and Central Asia. From the Inid 19th century, both the Russians and the British exerted increas- ing political and economic pressure on Iran. By the late 19th century, despite maintaining its inde- pendence, Iran was nominally transformed into a buffer zone between the British and Russian ern- pires in Asia. The Anglo-Russian mutual under- standing opened Iran to British and Russian agents, some with archaeological interests. In the early 1840s, the Russian Baron Th.A. de Bode and the British Austin H. Layard traveled in Lurestan and Khuzestan and recorded some archaeological sites. From 1836 to 1841, Henry C. Rawlinson copied the trilingual inscription at Bisotun and made a major breakthrough in deciphering the cuneiform script." Later, based on the recently translated cu- neiform inscriptions and classical texts, George Rawlinson published the first modern history of ancient Iran from the Median to the Sasanian peri- ods, in a series which eventually culminated in the publication of Thr Sr-cirn Great ~\/lonarchirs of' the An- cirrzt Eastern Il'orld.''

The long reign of Naser ad-Din Shah (1846- 1896) witnessed both the rise of modern national- ism and the beginning of archaeological research in Iran. In this period, Iranian interest in archaeo- logical material rarely advanced beyond mere trea- sure hunting and antiquarianism, and the lack of any serious appreciation for the cultural ~~alue

of archaeological sites or artifacts led to much destruc- tion. The new hobby was particularly appealing to

1994a, 1996; Negahban 1997; Iiarimlou 1999; Niknami 2000.

"Larsen 1996.

l%wlinson 1885. The fifth monarchy~vas theA1chaemenids, the uixth the Parthianu, and the seventh the Sasanians. '"Etemad al-Saltaneh 1978, 407.

the Qajar elite. Mohammad-Hassan Khan-e 'Ete- mad al-Saltaneh, a trustee of Naser ad-Din Shah, was one of the more enthusiastic treasure hunters and collectors of the late Qajar period. In Februan of 188.5 he wrote, "I came home after lunch and spent some time studying ancient coins. I have picked up [this hobby] recently, I ;iln collecting ancient coins."'" On the methods applied for find- ing artifacts, he wrote, "The King has gone to Dos- han-Tappeh. I stayed at home. In the evening, I visited Shazadeh 'Abd al-Azim to see tala-shuji [lit., gold-washing] ."I4

On the so-called tala-shuyi method of excavation

A.H. Schindler, the German-born British engineer, made the following obsemations while laying the Tehran-Mashhad telegraph line in 187.5:''

A distance south of Damghan there is a mound knolvn

as Tappeh Hesar. X few months ago some antiques

were discovered there. Since then [people] have been

corking there and finding ma~~elo~is

objects. The first time I was in Damghan, I visited the mound and realized that they are not working properly. I told them chat to do, and to bring water to the head of the mound to finish thejob faster and more efficient- ly. The second time I was there they were much bet- ter. . . . They have dug a stream ~chich ran through the mound and washed antiques unbroken.

Some excavations were in fact spoilsored by Nas- er ad-Din Shah: "[Slome ruins can be seen in parts of Lar. His l'lajesty ordered some spots to be dug. Some nice tiles came out."'91eanwhile, in his nar- rative of the pilgrimage to Karbala and Najaf, Nas- er ad-Din Shah wrote, "They did some tala-shuyi today. I didn't go. It was windy and dusty. I sent the Butler, hIirza Ali Khan-e LIohaqqeq; [he came back and said that] considerable gold, silver, and ob-

jects were discovered."';

Already, these destructive activities had raised considerable emotion anlong the educated elite of the Qajar period. In 1877, after a visit to a number of European countries, Hajj Sa~yah wrote, "I have not seen a country as miserable as Iran or a nation as unfortunate as Iranians. Other countries not only preserve every menial remain left behind by an- cient commoners of their own countn with much effort, but spend a great deal to take antiquities of other lands to their country investigate its date and its makers with painstaking accuracy and, indeed, are proud of this."'"

"'Etemad al-Saltaneh 1978, 732.

"Schindler 1968, 206.

""Etemad alSaltaneh 1978, 92.

"i\bbasi and Racli' 1993, 36.

'9a)yaah 1978, 41.

Apparently, Naser ad-Din Shah's interest in antiq- uities gradually grew beyond excavation and he had a museum built in one of his palaces in Tehran. Schindler wrote in 1875 that "the Shaltanshnh [king of kings] has permitted some foreigners to dig at [some] mounds. It is a pity that these ancient arti- facts are being taken away from this land. It ~vould be a good idea to put eventhing like bricks, seals, etc. in the Shahanshahi museu~n."'~

The expansion of the royal collection of antiqui- ties in the Shahanshahi museum encouraged Morte- za Qoli Khan-e llomtaz al-hlolk, the nationalist min- ister of Culture, Islamic Endowments, and Crafts af- ter the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 to estab- lish the National hluseum of Iran in Tehran in 1910, a "historical step . . . of significant senice to the Irani- ans in the future.""'

Perhaps the most important development in Irani- an archaeology in the late Qajar period was the begin- ning of the French excavations at Susa. After the ini- tial excavations by T,Villiam K Loftus in 1850 to 1852,?' the British, grosslv underestimating the archaeologi- cal significance of Susa, dispatched Loftus to Meso- potamia to resume excavations at JVarka and Ktiyun-

jik. The French took advantage of the British with- drawal, and in 1882 Marcel and Jean Dieulafov ap- plied to the Iranian government to excavate at Susa. Under the influence of his French physician, Dr. Tholozan, Naser ad-Din Shah finally concurred:

hlon mari Ctait derneurC dans les termes les plus affecteux avec le docteur Tholo~an, mCdecin et ami de Nasr ed-Din chah. Pendant la durke de notre pre- mier voyage nous avions d6 ses recommandations de penetrer dans les mosquCes les mieux closes; sou- vent mi.rne notre securiti avait dependu de ses soins. Ce fut a lui que nous emes recours.

Pendent que notre ministre engageait avec le gomr- ernement persan de nou~velles negotiations, le doc- teur Tholozan s'aressait directement au chah. I1 in- teressa la roi au succes de travaux qui devaient mettre en lumiere l'histoire glorieuse de ses antiques predeces- seurs; il lui parla l'estime que prendraient ses contem- porains pour le caractere d'un prince toujours heu- reux de favoriser les efforts du mondes savant. Si,en sa qualite d'autocrate, Nasr ed-Din chah ne tolere pas volontiers la contradiction et ne se laisse pas detourri- er aisement d'une idee preconcue, comme homme il est accessible a des considerations d'un ordre Clevk, et l'on ne fdit pas un,vain appel ases sentiments gPnCreux. Nous, en eumes hientat la preuve.

Le gouvernment persan presenta quelques obser- vations relatives aus tribus pillardes de 1'Arabistan XBDI [AJX 105

[Khuzestan], formula des craintes au sujet de f'anatis- me local, fit des rPsen~es concernant le tombeau de Daniel, exiga le partage des objets dkcouverts et l'attibution au chah des rnitaux pricieux, et nous ac- cords l'autorisation de fouiller les tumulus Cla~nites.~

The Dieulafoys dug at Susa from 1884 to 1886.
The artifacts they discovered and sent back to the
Louvre Museum in Paris raised considerable ex-
citement."' This reaction encouraged the French
government to plan future work at Susa on a larger
scale. But, after the 1886 season, the Iranian gov-
ernment, because of the skirmishes that the French
excavations had caused in the Susa area, refused to
renew their permit. In fact, Naser ad-Din Shah was
annoyed by Marcel Dieulafoy, who, ignoring the
terms of the concession, took all the finds to France.
The Iranian government officially protested to the
French government. In response, in 1889 the
French government invited Naser ad-Din Shah to
visit the new Persian exhibition at the Louvre, Nas-
er ad-Din Shah, ,joyful in finding a chance to travel
to Europe, accepted the invitation, vielved the ex-
hibit, and withdrew the prote~t.'~ Subsequently, in
189.5, one year before his assassination, under the
influence of Dr. Tholozan, Naser ad-Din Shah grant-
ed the French the right to conduct archaeological
exca~ations in the whole country. Ttvo years later,
the French government founded the Dblbgc~tion sci-

en perse, with Jacques de Morgan as

its director. De Morgan soon established himself at

Susa, built a fort on top of the Acropole mound,

and embarked on excavating the site, using meth-

ods that by today's standards were inaccurate, to say

the least.'" In 1900, motivated by the large number

of eye-catching discoveries at Susa, the French ob-

tained the monopoly on archaeological excavations

in Iran from Mozaffar ad-Din Shah (1896-1905),

the son and successor of Saser ad-Din Shah.'"

Both concessions were completely in favor of the

French. According to them, all the antiquities dis-

covered in excavations were to be sent to France,

and the Iranian government would only be rei~n-

bursed for objects made of gold and silver. This

provoked a number of nationalists to protest against

the looting of the cultural heritage of Iran. Haij

Zein-alL'Abedin-e Maragheh-i, under the pseud-

onym of Ebrahim Beig, protested:" "I heard the

agonizing news that recently the right to excavate

at Shushtar and Hamadan and elsewhere has been

'" Schindler 1968. 206-7.

"' R.fostafa\i 1955, 348.

"L,oftlls 1857; Curtis 1993.

'Wie1llafo)- 1990, 22-3.

"Cran-..\\maric and <;ran-..\7maric 1991,139-81: Chevalier


granted through the French ambassador to a French company. The Iranian nation has not the faintest clue about these matters, but those who compre- hend its abusive consequences are in great calami- ty that all those ancestral treasures our motherland has preserved for us Irallia~ls in her bosom for ages . . . is lost to a j'ufirran~~.'""



Devoid of ally ecollomic initiative, Saser ad- Din Shah distributed Iranian resources to eager foreigners to obtain easy revenues for his extrav- agant court and luxurious European trips.'" The lucrative tobacco concession granted to the Brit- ish Major Gerald Talbot in 1890 was the last straw for middle-class Iranians, already frustrated with the incompetence of the Qajar kings. The tobac- co affair triggered a chain reaction, leading in less than a year to the ~cithdra~cal

of the conces- sion, in six years to the assassillation of Saser ad- Din Shah, and in 16 years to the Constitutiollal Revolution of 1906.

The original instigators of the Revolution of 1906 were three groups from Iranian society: the clergy, the merchants, and the intellectuals, only the latter with strong nationalist feelings.'"' The clergy, without whom the revolution would not have succeeded, soon realized to their dismay that the new system would implicitly favor secularism. The merchant participants, on the other hand, were satisfied when the revolution f~~lfilled

their mate- rial demands. Lastly, the intellectuals, who had no previous experience in the deceitful world of pol- itics, became disillusioned and drifted away when the British and the Russians resumed their pres- sure on Iran. The Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907 is considered by many" to be a turning point in natiollalism in Iran. Accordillg to the terms of this agreement, Iran would be divided into Brit- ish and Russian spheres of influence, with a neu- tral buffer zone in the middle. The Iranian gov- ernment refused to recognize this agreement but had no power to prevent it from happening. Irani- ans were greatly offended and objected strenous- ly. Sationalist poets protested against the agree- ment with patriotic expressions recalling glories

'"F~im7l~pderived a somewhat derogaton

frorn Frank-is term in Iran in the past to refer to Europeans.

"'Amanat 1997.

'"Despite their nationalist sentimeno, it is interesting to see that a grollp of the early nationalists regarded the long histo17 of Iran as a source of disgrace rather than pride. E.g., on the first anniversarv of the re\:olution, the influential ner\.s-

of Iran'? hi~tory and mythology. Malek al-Shu'ara- ye Bahar, a noted poet of the late Qdjar period, for example, wrote:""

0 . . . Iranians, Iran is in nuisance
The land of Darius is exposed to Nicholas

The land of kings is at the mercv of monsters

IVhere is Islamic zeal? lchere is patriotism?

hIv brave brothers, w11l such reticence?

Iran is \ours, Iran is lours.

Later that year, when the Russians occupied the Iranian Azerbaijan, Malek al-Shu'ara \crate:':'

0 . . . the morning bree~e who rise from the east Travel to Alerbaijan at dawn

Mourn and cr) for that land of darkrless

Kiss fbr me that rose-colored soil

Then travel to ;\zargoshasb

Bereail in that fire temple

In that ruined ivan

If >-ou see the spirit of Keyqobad and the soul of Kavous

Tell them, 0. . . the fbrtunate kings

0.. . prides ofthe crown and worthies of the throne
Shahanshahs of Ecbatana and Istakhr

,411 found glon and pride in this land

. . .

This was the land of armies at the time of Cyrus

The resting place of warriors and the camp of the


For the games ofthe King and his prime

I see it no\% captive in the claws ofinsurgents.

In the meantime, the new Shah, Moharnmad-'Ali, who, as heir to hlozaffar ad-Din Shah, had elldorsed the Constitution in 1906, rejected the new regime and, with the help of the Russian Cossacks, defeat- ed the Constitutionalists in Tehrari. Moham~nad- 'Ali Shah was soon subdued by the Constitutional- ists and chose to go into exile to Russia. British and Russian interference in Iran, however, remained intact. The British and Russian antagonism toward Iran reached a climax when they ejected the A~ner- ican Morgan Shuster, who was employed by the Ira- nian government to reorganize the administra- tion.'j4 The Anglo-Russian agreement of 1907 and the follo~ci~lg

upheavals directed Iranian national- ism into new, more subtle directions. It was in this era that the seeds of the xenophobic aspect of Ira-

paper H(lblr11-MrrtinUtlly23, 1907, 1) comnlented: "Thisis the

that the nation of Iran Ieas liberated from the burden of 6,000 )-ears of despotism." " E.g., Cottam 1978, 166. "Quoted in .+anpo~~r 1971, 132. "Quoted in ,tyanpo~~r

"Sh~lster 1912.

.4R ABDI [AJA 105

nian nationalism were laid, later to resurface in the Mosaddeq era and the Revolution of 1979.

The First I'Vorld LVar and British and Russian involvement with the Central Powers gave Iran a chance to rejuvenate. But as soon as the war was over, the British, free of their old rival, resumed their imperialist policy in Iran. The Anglo-Persian treaty of 1919 was interpreted by many nationalist circles as transforming Iran into a British semi-pro- tectorate. In the last years of the Qajar dynasty, Iran Jvas in complete disarray, with overwhelming in- ternal problems and crass British interference in governmental affairs. Sot surprisingly, the 1921 coup d'etat by Seyyed Zia ad-Din Tabataba'i and Reza Khan was considered to be a deliverance for many Iranians. In its first official act, the new go\,- ernment proclaimed the elimination of foreign influence and promotion of patriotism among its major objectives."

One year after the coup, when social and eco- nomic reforms by the new regime were commenting, a group of nationalist elite founded the Soci- ety for National Heritage (A~ljornan-eher-r ~\.lrlli) in Tehran. Accordi~lg to its declaration, this society was established "to enhance public interest in an- cient knowledge and crafts; and to preserve antiq- uities and handicrafts and their ancient tech- niques.""' Also, the Society laid out the following as its primary goals: (1) building a museum and li- brary in Tehran; (2) ensuring the proper record- ing and registration of all remains that their pro- tection as national heritage is necessal?; (3) ~naki~lg proper recording and registration of antiqui- ties which are in possession of the government and national organizations.

Among the founding members of the Society for National Heritage were three prominent intelligen- tsia with political backgrounds and strong nation- alist sentiments. First, Hasan Pirnia (hloshir al- Dowleh) was a dedicated patriot and one of the most influential politicians of the late Qajar peri- od. He received his doctorate in law from Moscow University in 1898 and served as the first prime minister after the Constitutio~lal Revolution of 1906, to reoccupy the position for four more times until the fall of the Qajar dynasty in 1925. After his man- datorv retirement bv Reza Khan in 192.5, Pirnia de- voted his time to cultural activities. He sened as a member of the executive committee of the Society for National Heritage and spent most of his time

"LVilber 1975, 49.

"'Soc~et~for National Hentage 1922, 1.

lvriting about ancient Iran. In 1927 Pirnia published Ancient Irun, followed by JIytI1.r of24ncient Imn in 1928, and, in 1933, by his opus magnum, the compre- hensive Hzstorj of,.incient Iran from prehistoric times to the fall of the Parthian empire." The last volume of the Histojy, on the Sasanian empire, was posthu- mously completed and published by Sa'id Naficy.

Pirnia's History is a diligent piece of scholarship in which he consulted many sources in European languages as well as ancient and modem Sear East- ern texts. Furthermore, in order to provide an up- to-date text, he corresponded with many scholars investigating ancient Iran, especially Ernst Herz- feld, with ~vhom Pirnia was in close contact through- out the lvriting of the Historj. Interestingly, despite Pirnia's strong patriotic feelings, the Histoq is ex- onerated from biased interpretations that charac- terize ~latio~lalist

writings. This has made the Histojy one of the most valued and widely read works of historiography in nod ern Iran.

In 1928 Pirnia was elected a member of the Com- mission of Education. This Commission was estab- lished to reorganize the educational system in Iran and to provide, by means of writing and translation, books for students on different levels. The Com- mission solicited Pirnia for a contribution on the culture and historv of ancient Iran. The result was a revised and combined edition of his l.incient Iran and ~JIjths of Ancient Imn, published as The Ancient Iran in 1929. The Ancient Iran served as the textbook at the high school level for the next two decade^."^

Another influential fou~lding member was Mo- hammad-Mi Foroughi (Zoka al-Molk), a prominent politician in the early Pahlavi period, who sened as prime minister under both Reza Shah and I\lIoham- mad Reza Shah Pahlavi. As early as 1901, Foroughi wrote a textbook, History ofIran, for the newly found- ed School of Political Science. This book demon- strates an interesting juxtaposition of historical in- formation on pre-Islamic dynasties of the Achae- menids, Seleucids, Parthians, and Sasanians de- rived from foreign literature, as well as traditional Iranian history on legendan. kingdoms of Pishda- dians and Kiyanians. In 1917 Foroughi published a revised version of Histor) ofIran that covered Irani- an history to the time of Mohammad-Ali Shah. The idea of writing a comprehensive history of ancient Iran was conceived at a meeting between Pirnia and Foroughi in 1927. Pirnia was assigned to write on pre-Islamic Iran (see above), Se~~ed

Hasan 'Faqiza-

"Pirnia 1933.


5 8 WMYAR ARDI [A]A 105

an autonomv, removed foreign influence, and em- barked on extensive industrial and militan modernization and socioeconomic reform^.^"

Reza Khan's strong patriotic feelings date to be- fore the coup, and even back then he did not hesi- tate to openly express them. Patriotic expressions with frequent references to Iran's past were an inte- gral part of Reza Khan's speech. C)n December 7, 1921, he told a group of gendarme officers, "Gentle- men! Our dear homeland is in urgent need of its brave sons. It is up to you to show lof~ resolve in the service of the country. and to make efforts to secure the independence of your country. Be alert and dil- igent; the dust of Ardashir is watching over yo^.""

In a proclamation on the first anriiversa~? of the coup, Reza Khan addressed the critics: "If you rem- inisce a bit, you will realize that the land of Darius was on the verge of destruction because of actions of his evil and illegitimate children. . . . I was un- able to allow a group of intrigues to succeed in their efforts to strangle this three-thousand-year-old coun- try merely so that they might make a profit. That is why I brought about the coup d'etat.""

Reza Khan had two overriding and inseparable goals that he pursued relentlessly: to restore Iran to some of its former greatness and to establish him- self as the absolute power on top of the reconstruct- ed nation." In his first speech after he was appoint- ed prime minister in 1923, Reza Khan stated:

There are t~o sorts of nl~yfortune either one of ~~hicli,

if not iemedit=d, 1s able to destro~ the riat~orial

~derititb of arir deteriorating race or people These

are dornest~c disorder arid Iriyecurlt\ arid chaos of

thought, ideas and morals

In exanunatlon of the iecent elents In Iian -111

show that these two factory, fiom ~~111ch emanate all

our troubles, ewsted thioughout the countr\ The

first source of ad\ers~t\ hay, thanks to Prol~dencr,

been ehni~nated hen 1s the tlrne to correct the 5ec-

ond and nol~ IS the occaylon to la\ a sound founda-

tion for Iran~an nat~onaht!

We are full\ alert to the fact that the morale of the

publ~chas, in general, been lowered to a thieatening

extent There are Inan\ ~ho. heedlesy of the princl-


Banani 1961: Uialili-Khou 1994.

" Quoted in 3fakki 1944, 354.

"Q11oted in LVilber 197.5, 63-4.

"Cottam 1978, 146.

" Quoted in \Vilber 1975, 73.

" hlostolvfi 1945-1947, 4:478.

'"pCk~'soumi 1976,45. Rrza Shah paid more tisits to Snsa in 1928 and 1937. Relations betwren Iran and Francr werr sour during RrzaShah's 19371isitas aresr~lt ofpublicationsin France of articlrs offensivr to him in Februa~y of that year, so he did not \\.ant a Frrnch archaeolog~st to gve him a tour of thr es- cavations. 'All Iranian ~vorking with the French rnission was

ple of self-reliance, have taken on the habit of adopt-

ing foreign support as a means for making their living

and for promoting their own designs. It is this activity

alone which will bring disgrace to the Iranian nation

whose chivalrous exploits, fame and eminence have

for ages been the ornaments of Iranian histor,. . . . It

is incumbent upon every Iranian to maintain the glo-

17' of Iranian liistoi? by learning to rely upon himself

and upon the po~verful force of the nation."

Reza Shah's career directly affected the develop- ment of archaeology in Iran. 'fhe collapse of the centralized government at the end of the Qajar period prompted several locally powerf~il leaders to declare nominal autonomy. One critical region was Khuzestan in south~restem Iran. This province has had a mixed population of Arabs and Iranians of mrious ethnic groups, especially Lurs. W~az'al. the Sheikh of hlohammareh (now Khorramshahr) , was one of the local leaders who opposed the rising star of Reza Khan. After attempts to ally himself with the dying @jar dynasty and the opposition group to Reza Shah in the parliament, Sheikh Khaz'al sought the support of the Kritish, who were already excited about the prospects of the recent discovery of oil in Khuzestan. In an act of open rebellion against Tehran, Sheikh Khaz'al declared himself the protector of Islamic shnri'n against Iranian sec- ularisni and the defender of the Arab people of JLhuzestan, who had no ethnic or linguistic ties with the Iranians. Sheikh Khaz'al sought to persuade the nomadic chiefdoms of the Zagros to ally with him, thus transforming the Zagros Llountains into an impregnable barrier between Reza Khan and Khuzestan. Sheikh Khaz'al's attempts met with no success, and in 1924 Reza Ktian personally led a militan campaign into Khuzestan. Sheikh W~az'al, abandoned by the British, was defeated in a rrlatter of houi-s.~' T'Vhile in Khuzestan, Reza Khan paid a visit to Susa arid, to his great despair, learned about crude archaeological activities at the site by the French and the Concessions of 189.5 and 1900.4" Shortly after~vards, encouraged by nationalist fig- ures, especially General Faraj-Allah Aq-evli and

entrusted14ith thejob: "'The guide took them [Reza Shah and his retinue] to alarge open pit and showed an area thathe said was the remains of' one of the audience halls of the Alchae- menid rulers, and added that a piece ofcement from the floor was in the Musezun in Tehran. 'rhe Shah asked if nothing else had been found and was told that columns and statuettes liad bern t~ncoverrd. Pressed further the guide added that thrsr pieces were all in the Louvre Musenm. The ruler remarl\ed: 'Those thieves took all those objects to the Louvre and lrft the cement for Iran.' He \\,as so outraged and furious that he refused to eat lunch with his suite, and \vent offto eat by lrim- self in the hut of the grnctarnle guards" (LVilber 1975, 179).


Mohammad Xli Foroughi, the Majles abolished both Concessions on 17 October 1927 and ratified the Antiquities Law three years later."

According to the new regulations, activities of the French mission were restricted to Susa and its environs with an Iranian representative supervis- ing their excavations. To fulfill the long-delayed goal of the Society of National Heritage (see above), the Iranian government was required to build an archaeological museum and library in Tehran. To compensate the French for the abolition of conces- sions, the Iranian government accepted a French citizen as the director of the newly founded archae- ological body. Andr6 Godard (1881-1965) began his job as the first director of the "Antiquities Ser- vice of Iran" in 1929..'%odard was replaced by Ali Farahmandi as the director of this organization in 1934.4" The so-called Godard era in Iranian archae- ology was marked by two accomplishments: inaugu- ration of the first Iranian journal of archaeology (A&ar-i?r~n)and the design and construction of a museum modeled after the great Sasanian palace at Ctesiphon. In 1936, antique collections were transported from the old National Museum at Mas'oudieh to the new building, and in 1937, after the establishment of the headquarters of the Antiquities Senrice of Iran, the Irnn Bnstnn 1Vusrurn was officially founded by Reza Shah.

The elimination of the French monopoly opened up Iran to archaeological expeditions from other countries. Prior to 1930, onlv a handful of archaeol- ogists managed to break through the French mo- nopoly to conduct fieldwork in Iran. Raphael Pumpelly dug at Anau in 1903, Frank Earp briefly dug at Geoy Tappeh in 1903, Aurel Stein conduct- ed some surveys and excavations in southeastern Iran in 1915 and 1916, and Ernst Herzfeld made a general reconnaissance survey in 1905, some exca- vations at Pasargadae in 1928, and conducted a sur- vey in western Iran in 1925-1926 and 1928.'" After the abolition of the French monopoly, other coun-

"'Godard continued to work in the Archarological Senice for another 20 years or so. But, as his lo~lties lay elsewhere, he failed to earn the resprct oftllr Iranians (Malrk Shahmirza- di 1990,410, n. 31) ancl soon rurrlors brgan circulating ahout his involvemrnt with antiquities dralers, most scandalous of which probahly the "Zixiyeh Affair" (Kevkhosra~i 11184). The most serious hlow to Goclarcl's reputation came when, in 1950, he p~~l~lishecl

a dealer's collection allegedly exranted from Zi~iyeh (Godard 1950), but the oral tradition regarding Go- dard's dismissal was that 1,ouis Vanden Brrghe found a pot he hinlself had exca~~tecl,

rrlarkrd,and given to Iran Bastan Mu-

tries, especially the United States, launched archae- ological investigations in Iran. The University Mu- seum of the University of Pennsylvania sponsored three expeditions: excavations at Turang Tappeh from 1931 to 1932 under Frederick R. MTulsin, ex- cavations at Tappeh Hessar from 1931 to 1932 and at Ray from 1934 to 1936, both under Erich. F. Schmidt. Under the auspices of the Oriental Insti- tute of the University of Chicago, Schmidt also dug at Istakhr from 1934 to 1939, carried out the first aerial reconnaissance in western Iran from 1935 to 1937, and led one of the first expeditions to Lur- estan in 1934-1935 and 1937-1938. The Oriental Institute also sponsored excavations at Tall-e Bakun in 1932 and 1937 under Alexander Langsdorff and Donald E. McCown. The Metropolitan Museum of Art sponsored excavations at Qasr-e Abu Nasr from 1932 to 1935 under Walter Hauser and J. M. Up- ton. Furthermore, Aurel Stein conducted exten- sive surveys and some test excavations in southern and western Iran from 1932 to 1936, and the Sino- Swedish expedition excavated at Shah Tappeh in 1933 under T. J. Arne. The French also expanded their activities by digging at Tappeh Giyan from 1931 to 1932 under Georges Contenau and Roman Ghirshman, Tappeh Sialk from 1933 to 1934 and 1937, and Bishapur from 1935 to 1941, both under

Ghirshman. The Oriental Institute excavations at Persepolis from 1931 to 1939, however, proved to be of particular significance in promoting nation- alist sentiments in Iran.

Persepolis has always been a great attraction for foreign travelers, historians, and archaeol~gists,~'

not to mention the many Iranians who visited the site after its destruction at the end of the Achaemenid period." As early as 1685, Engelbert Kaempfer pleaded for the protection and preservation of the monuments at Persepolis, which were being muti- lated or removed by vandal^."^ As scholarly interest in Persepolis grew during the 18th and 19th centu- ries, the prospect of excavations at the site became

seum for sale in an antiquities store. The authoritirs were alert- ed, and Godard~vas imiied to adinner, given arrledal, thanked, and put on a plane to Paris.

"'Hrrzfrld accorrlpaniecl Reza Shah and his entourage in Iris \isit to western ancl southrwestrrn Iran from 25 October to 20 h'ol-enlber 1928 and in the meantirrlr conducted a gen- rral sun.ey of thr area; see Herzfeld 1929.

"'Sancisi-IVeerde1111~1rgand Drijvers 1991.

"Shahbazi 1980. Prrsepolis was so fascinating to the Irani- ans that the first nloclern warship of thr Iranian a 600- ton cniisrr armeduith four K-upp guns purchased from Genna- ny in 1883, \\.as named "Persrpolis" (Curzon 1892, 2:3114-6).

'"M'iesehlifer 11191.

closer to reality. In 1772 Carsten Kiebuhr cleared parts of the eastern stail~vay of the Apadana Hall to make sketches of the reliefs. Xiebuhr's work was fol- lolved by several more specialized surveys, includ- ing Frantz Stolze's pioneering photographic record- ing of the site in 1872, and excavations at the Hall of One Hundred Columns by Mo'tamed al-DolvIeh (Nasr ad-Din Shahs uncle) in 1876 and 1877."

In 1924, Nosrat ad-Do~\~lel~

Firuz hfirza, the gover- nor of Fars and one of the founding members of the Societ? of National Heritage (see above) encouraged Ernst Herzfeld to conduct a preliminary survey of the ruins of Persepolis.'%erzfeld's report'" prompt- ed James H. Breasted, director of the Oriental Insti- tute of the University of Chicago, to apply to the Ira nian Government for full-scale excavations at Perse- polis. Under the auspices of the Oriental Institute and with partial funding by John D. Rockefeller, FIerzfeld began excavations at Persepolis in 1931. Herzfeld continued the work until 1934, when, after some administrative problems," Eric11 Schmidt re- placed him as the director of excavations. Schmidt worked at the site until the outbreak of the Second World War. After 1939 the work was continued by the Archaeological Service of Iran under Hosein Ravanbod (four months in 1939), Isa Behnam (1939- 1940), Mahmoud Rad (1940), Ali Sami (1941-19\59), and Akbar Tqjvidi (1968-1976) ."

Reza Shah was a strong supporter of excavations at Persepolis. He visited the site four tirnes. During his first visit to Persepolis in 1922, prior to begin- ning of excavations there, he commented that "We should built a wall at-ound Persepolis, so we could prevent more damage from happening to the site. \Ye really have to do something about this site.""'

After his second visit to Persepolis in 1928, upon his return to Tehran, Reza Shah reinarked to an assembly of officials:

Mistory tells us about the splendor of ancient Iran. In the magnificent ruins of Persepolis one can wit- ness this splendor without historians' bias, the ruins speak for themsel\-es and tell you the glon of ancient Iranian monarchs.

'4Abdi 19116, 170.

'"rnst Herzfeld 11859-1948) was alread) an active figure in Iranian archaeolog). He was anlong the first arclraeologists to break into the French monopoly and conduct archaeologi- cal field\vork in Iran. Xscholar of colossal knowlrdge, Herzfeld was nonrtheless accusrd of beingir~rolred in antiquities deal- ing and evrn of making forgeries of ancirnt artifacts. Brhveen thr 1900s and late 1920s he conducted extensive sun-eys and some excaration.; in Iran, and inaugurated the first series of Arc./rink~,~~.rc./rr.Jliiteilu~lgnau.r hnt~in 1929. Herzfeld excaGxt- ed at Persepolis on behalf of the Oriental Institute from I930 to 1934. X professor at the Berlin LTniversih ofjexvish faith, 'AR ABDI ['%JA% 1 05

141en I saw the structures of Persepolis, I was moved bj- those colossal monuments, but seeing them [in such impaired state] deeply depressed me. I was none- theless delighted [to learn] that such great kings have ruled Iran and left these magnificent remains. Patrio- tism and national pride should be embedded in even Iranian soul.h"

After the beginning of excavations at Persepolis, Reza Shah, who had already made acquaintance with Herzfeld, ardently advocated his works at the site and personally ensured that the project would run smoothly. In his third visit to the site in 1932, he told Herzfeld: ''You are doing a work of civilization here, and I thank you.""' In his fourth and last visit to Per- sepolis in March 1937, Reza Shah praised the work done at the site and encouraged Erich Schmidt to work faster to clear the entire platform (fig. 2) .""

Although Reza Shah enjoyed spontaneous patri- otic feelings, it can be argued that it was a single event that exhorted his strong will to revive the glo- ries of ancient Iran. On 22 April 192.3, the Ameri- can art historian Arthur Upham Pope delivered a talk on "The Art of Iran in the Past and the Fu-

ture."(;? The talk was in English, but it was concur-

rently translated into Persian for a large audience, including Reza Ifian (then prime minister and the Commander-in-Chief of the Army), his cabinet, members of the klqjles, members of the Society for Xational Heritage, and the American legation to Tehran. Pope presented a survey of Iranian art from the Achaernenid to Sasanian and Islarnic times, and stressed the cultural, artistic, and spiritual contri- bution of Iran to world civilization. Pope empha- sized that kings of Iran have always served as pa- trons of arts and crafts, and irnplied that a cultural and artistic revival in Iran required government endorsement and encouragement.

Pope's talk left a deep and lasting impression on Reza Khan. Obviously the principal point was in har- mony with his own impression of Iran's past glories, but patronage of arts and culture was a new challenge that he found particularly appealing. Consequently, Reza Shah embarked on patronizing arts and crafts.

hr chose not to rrturn to Gerninm niter hiu work in Iran, but

went to London in 1935 and then to the LT.S.,!\.here hejoinrd

the Institute for .Ad~xnced Studirs at Princeton.

'"Herzfrld 1928.
''Balcer 1991.
"'hl. Mousa~l 1990, 12.
""Quoted in l\.la'sotuni 1976, 42.
'"Quoted in Esl\andari-Khoyini 1956, 72-3.
" Quoted in Breasted 1933, 407.
"'LVilher 1975, 180.
"'Popr 1971; also reprintrd in Glucl\and Sirrr 1996, 113-



in the Majles, he launched a three-pronged propa- ganda offensive in the press he controlled. This propaganda was aimed at the educated middle- class Iranians who, like Reza Khan, were mostly in- different to religion. The first and second prongs in Reza Khan's offensive against the clergy por- trayed them as backward political and social reac- tionaries opposing reforms that promised a better life to Iranians and as a group devoid of national- ism feelings and ever ~iilling to sell Iran to foreign- ers, especially to the British. The third prong, on the other hand, was a comprehensive effort to re- a~iaken the memory of Iran's pre-Islamic past, es- pecially the Achaemenid and Sasanian empires, ancl glorify Zoroastrianisnl as the original religion of Iranians.'" It was generally emphasized that the fall of the Sasanian empire and the Arab invasion of Iran in the seventh century Tias the biggest hu- miliation in Iranian histor-v and that Arabs had com- pelled or tricked Iranians into giving up their an- cient religion and converting to Islam. From the late 1920s, a new literan genre emerged in aclmira- tion of Zoroaster and his faith," equating it ~iith the generative force of ancient Iran and attributing Iran's decline to the elimination of this force. For instance, Mirrade-ye 'Eshqi, the famous national poet, conlposed Rccstc~k/ziz(the Resurrection), an operetta in praise of Zoroaster and the ancient kings of Iran. Ebrahim Pourdavoud-later a professor at the Department of Archaeology of Tehran Univer- sity (see above)-wrote a long poem, rl~trshnspccnrln~r

(the Archangels), which told of an appearance of Zoroaster to the author in a vision, ancl 'Xref-e Qaz- vini composed verses in glorification of Zoroastri- anism. Emphasis shifted from Islamic literature to those celebrating ancient Iranian traditions and teachings; Ferdowsi replaced Hafer and Sa'cli as the most widely read Iranian poet. The national anthem and other patriotic songs venerated pre- Islanlic times and called for greater glories for Iran. Religious holidays Iiere limited and intense reli- gious ceremonies banned, especially the pageants and self-flagellation of the Moharram mourning period. Instead, civic and national holidays such as the Abl\ilphrrgcT~rceremony were introduced to cele- brate ancient Zoroastrian rituals. Also, in 1925 the solar calendar was promulgated over the more Is- lamic lunar calendar, with Sowruz as the beginning

'"Haas (1946, 170) claims that Rera Shah even elltertainecl the idea of revi\ing Zoroastrianisnl as the official religion of Iran, hut there is no tangihle e\idence to verie this.

"See examples in Ar?anpo~~r

1971, vol. 2. ".According to JVilber (1975, 229) cluring his \isit to Perse-

of the new year and as the major Iranian ceremony. Furthermore, in 1923, shortly before his corona- tion, Rera Khan chose the name Pahlavi as his fam- ily name," thus emphasizing his cultural ties ~iith pre-Islamic Iran. ,4nd at the end of 1934, the Irani- an government officially declared that hencefor- ward the Country must be called "Iran" and the name "Persia" should no longer be used. In a cir- cular that follo~ied in 1935, the Ministn of Foreign Affairs explained to all countries maintaining po- litical relations with Iran that the Fars province, ~ihich the name Persia is derived from, is only a geographical section of the land of Iran. But, since the two major pre-Islamic Iranian dynasties of the Achaemenids and Sasanians, kno~irl to the Euro- peans through the class~cal source\, or~g~natecl

In Fars, the name of the pro\lnce has I~ecome erroneousl~ s\non\mous ~\~th

the countrl, hereas as the correct name, Iran-the land of the Anans-has been used by Iranians to refer to their homeland from pre-Islamic times. This change Tias instituted at a time ~ihen the concept of an "Xnan race" was the subject of much debate and was being used in political propaganda to justify increasingly harsh persecutions in Europe, and there is little doubt that the Iranian government was unaware of these political currents. It has even been suggested that the impetus for the change of the name originated from the Iranian embassy in Berlin."

The grand emphasis on nationalism and ancient Iran that characterized the reign of Reza Shah left a deeper impact on Iranian historiography and the Persian language than the practice of archaeolog). From the mid 19th century, \Vestern-educated Ira- nians ancl adoption of European sciences and crafts introduced hundreds of foreign words from Euro- pean languages, especially from French ancl En- glish, into the Persian language. By the Constitu- tional Revolution of 1906, the language used by educated Iranians in the fields of science, politics, and the militan was so replete with alien terminol- ogy that the general public would have found it sonle~ihat incomprehensible. As early as 1868, a group of nationalist intellect~~als

~iith strong anti- Arab and anti-Islamic serltinlerlts led by Slirza Slal- kum Khan proposed to rid Persian of Arabic words.74 In 1897 a group of primarily young courtiers formed a society for furthering Persian grammar as \\ell as

polis in 1928, Rera Shah took Herzfelcl asiclv and asked him to

explain what Pal~la\i really meant.

"Wilber 1973, 163.

''.Vqr 1969.

secondary and college education. Later, in 1924 an office was founded to coin equivalents for 111ilital-y terms, and another office in 1932 for scientific terms. In the meantime, the increasingly patriotic feel- ings in Iran and antagonis~n toward Arabs and Is- lam promoted by the Pahlavi government stirnulat- ed a nu~rlber of extreme nationalists to introduce a riels. Persian prose characteri~ed by extensive use of antiquated words or new constructs of antiquat- ed ~vords borrowed from Old and lliddle Persian. This new st>le, which came to be called "the pure Persian" (Ffini-ju snr-r) , not only aimed to replace European words ~vith Persian ones, but to elimi- nate the large Arabic vocabulary in Persian. This attempt soon led to complete disarray prompting the government to create the Iranian Academy


Ir-(In).The priman duty of the Acad- emy was to find Persian equivalents for foreign ~vordsand to create a nelv, rigorous Persian vocabu- lary and prose capable of handling extensive cul- tural interaction in a changing ~vorld. The Acade- my is probably one of the rnore successfi~l cultural institutions in Iran, creating in about 60 years the equivalents for thousands of European and Arabic ~vords to retain the character of the Persian as a coherent lang~age.~'

The Academy, holyever, proved to be of little suc- cess either in preventing the advocates of "the pure Persian" from promoting their prose, or the gro~vth of chauvinism among a number of Iranian intelli- gentsia. Ah~rlad Kasravi Tvas an early advocate of both."' \\'bile under the Islamic Republic a p~r-son~ non pntu and despised for his fierce attacks on Shi- ite Islam and clergy. some, nonetheless, consider Kasravi one the greatest historians in the recent history of Iran. In his career; Kasravi authored sev- eral meticulous historical studies, especially L;ightvrn Yuclr:~ of 1fisto1~o/'Azv~-l)~ijnn

(Tehran 1937) and

Tliv Histoy qfCon.~titt~tiorlnli.~))i

in han (Tehran 1940). But, in a series of articles and books published af- ter 192-5, Kasravi chastised Isla111 and especially the Shiite icleolocgy to the point that led to his assassi- nation in 1945 by religious fanatics. bsravi, a sujjvrf and a native of ~Izerbaijan, was, nonetheless, an outspoken nationalist and a firm promoter of Irani- an culture and the Persian language. During 25


s~~spcndeclon the personal orderot Rera S11,lIl on 27 April 1938. Xpparcnth. he \\as 111nhapp) \\.it11 the slo~vfxogrrss the ,-\cademy had rnade ill purifting the Persian I;~nguagefrom lorcign word\. 11Tvas, I~o\vcvcr. allllo~tnccdthat thr .4c;-tclem~\\o~1lti

be rerollstitutcd and rcslunc its\vot.L\\hcn it\ I)\.l;i\\s rve1.e re\ isvd. Tlris did not happen after Kcza Shah's :lIxlic:ltio~~.


years Kasravi developed an idiosyncraric version of Persian with extensive usage of partially fictitious etymoloq adopted from Old and bliddle Persian and Avestan, anlong other old Iranian languages. The ambitious book VN j~.clnnti Bo~~jfitl

(The Sacred

Foundatio~~)'~-consideredby many as Kasravi's

opus magnum-is probably the most definitive

manifesto of his Persian prose and ideas.

Ihsravi's ideas and prose proved to be particular-

ly appealing to a group of fanatic nationalists who

actively despised Xrabs and Islam and attributed

Iran's decline to Islam and the Arab invasion of the

seventh century. Bet~veen 1944 and 1968, a group

of such nationalists under the name the Society of

the Land of Iran (Anjot~inn-vI~iinvij)published Iran

Kozitl~ll,a series of 18 books and pamphlets on cul-

ture, history, and languages of ancient Iran. The

Iriinvij Society seems to have had only three perlna-

nent members: Zabih Behrooz, h.Iohammac1-Sadeq

Ga, and Moha~n~nad Sloqaddarn, the latter two pro-

fessors at Tehran Lrniversity, including the Depart-

ment of Archaeology. The Iranian nationalism ad-

vocated by followers of the Iicinzlij Society is better

described as chauvinistic, sometimes even racist.

They strongly believed in Iranian superiority over

other people in even aspect and greatly exaggerat-

ed Iran's contribution to ~vorld civili~ation. This

belief led them to gross rnisrepresentatictn of histo-

ry. Behrooz, for example, published a number of

ambiguous books, antagonistic to Arabs, the Arabic

language, and to Islam, while pronloting Iranian

culture, history and the Persian language. Two of

these in particular, C:alrntl~r and Ifisfolp in Ircrn and

7'hu LVo7rlri~z Cnlvntln,;'" stirred much controversy and

criticism, as they both advocated implausible ideas

about ancient Iran.

Mohammad Moqadda~n, still respected in Iran

for his superb translation of Albert T. Olmstead's

monumental History of th~ I'v~-si(ln Etrij~irc,, brought

antagonism to~vard Arabs and the Arabic language

to a new level.'" In a number of publications in the

In1n Koi~liuh series, h~loqaddam argued that a large

number of Arabic words have Persian roots, and

that Arabic is a distorted version of Persian."' Later

in life he sought a Persian etymology for his Arabic

name and changed it to Mahmad Mogdam, which,

"'For re\ic~vs of lils~r\i'scarver. scr Dactghcyb 19'78 and

(:houI)inch 1995.

-'Ikrsfiivi 1943.

"Kchroo~ 1932. 1968.

'"Zakcri 1993, 418.

"' <:f ;\logllct,i~n 1963.


according to him, had a Persian root and meant, respectively, "of grand position" and "of Magian soul."

Chauvinistic ideas of the sort advocated by the Iranvij group did not catch on, and only a handful of Iranian writers followed themx1 Yet their basic ideas, especially a rnild tendency toward the pure Persian, sumived as an undercurrent in Iranian scholarship"" including the practice of archaeology.


In 1941, nearly two years after the outbreak of the Second \\'orld \b7ar, despite Iran's proclaimed neutrality, Allied forces occupied the country. Reza Shah abdicated in favor of the crown prince, who assumed kingship in September 1941 as hfohanl- mad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The Allies' occupation of Iran put an end to archaeological field activities in Iran, except for excavations at Persepolis, ~ihich ~verecontinued by the Archaeological Service of Iran. After 194.5 archaeological activities were re- sumed gradually over about 10 years. In 1949 )fah- nloud Racl and Ali Hakemi of the .Archaeological Ser~iceof Iran excavated at Hasanlu in Azerbaijan, where Aurel Stein's test excarations in 1936 had revealed Bronze and Iron Age rernains. The French returned to Susa in 1946 under Roman Ghirsh- man, though his main focus frorn 19\31 to 1962 was the excavation of the Ela~rlite ziggurat at Chogha Zanbil. Donald hfc(;o~in of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago excavated at Tall-e Qasir ((;hazir) in 1946 and 1947. T. Burton Brown of hfanchester University dug for a fortnight in 1948 at Goey Tappeh near Ur~nia and established a pre- liminary ~hronolo~q

for western .Azerbaijan from the fourth to first millennium B.C.E. Carlton S. (:eon of the Lrniversity hluseum of the University of Pennsylvania began the first systematic investi- gation of paleolithic remains in Iran in 1949 by exploring a number of caves in the Zagros hloun- tains and the Caspian coast in xfazandaran. In 19.50 Rad and Hakemi excavated the Iron Age graves at Khorvin near Qazvin on the foothills of Alborz .\Iountains. Their work was continued in 1954 by 1,ouis \'anden Berghe of Gent University. Before that, fro111 1951 to 19\33, \'anden Berghe conduct- ed exten~ive sulTeys and some test excavations in central Fars and established a preliminary chro- nology for the region fro111 the Keolithic to the

"Fol-a I-e\ie\\-.scc Zakeri 1993.

"Fal-sllid~il-d 1993. :34.5-.34.

Iron Age. 6Vhile Vanden Berghe continued his surveys in Larestan in southern Fars, a .Japanese team under Namio Egami and Seichi Masuda con- ducted f~~rther

excavation at Bakun in 1956, fol- lo~ved by excavations in other sites in the 1960s. Lastly, Robert H. Dyson of the University hft~seun~ of the University of Pennsylvania began excarations at Hasanlu in 1956. The Iranian Prehiston Project of the Oriental Institute of the University of (:hica- go under Robert J. Braidwood in 19.59-1960 and its successor prqjects, especially the regional sur- vey in Susiana by Robert blcC. Aclarns in 1960-1961, and excavations at Tappeh Ali Kosh in the Deh Luran Plain by Frank Hole and Kent Flannen in 1961 and 1963, marked the beginning of the mod- ern era in Iranian ar~haeolo~q.

The Allies' occupation of Iran revived the dor- mant xenophobia of Iranian nationalism, under Tvraps during the Reza Shah era. The British and .Americans evacuated the countn shortly after the conclusion of the ~var, but the Soviets supported puppet governments in Azerbaijan and Kurdestan in an atternpt to separate parts of Iran. The attempt Failed, and ~vith political pressure from the L1.S. on the U.S.S.R., in 1946 the Iranian Army recaptured both provinces. In the period bet~veen the end of the Second IVorld IVar and the early 1960s, Iran ~vitnessed major socioecononlic changes and polit- ical oscillations, some of which had a direct con- nection ~vith nationalism. Slost importantly, the Anglo-Iranian oil concession, which was left un- touched during the reign of Reza Shah, led to an upsurge of Iranian nationalism in the early 19.50s, othenrise known as the "hfosaddeq era."

The hfosaddeq era is characterized by many his- torians of contemporary Iran as the "Nationalist" bpoqtlr. But the nationalism prornoted in this era was political, thus qualitatively different from the his- torical nationalism such as that of the Irinvj group (above), ~vhich stressed the his to^?. and culture of ancient Iran. LVhen in the early 1950s a group of Iranians with blohammad Slossadeq as their leader adopted the title 1ZJ~llijun(Nationalists) and estab- lished a party called ,[rhhr-jr 1ZJ~lli (National Front), their principal objective Tvas to eliminate the con- trol of the British over Iran's oil and the infl~rence of the so-called thousand families over Iranian af- Fairs." The political nationalism of the blosaddeq era, however, hoped to revive Iran's great past by diverting oil revenues fro111 the BI-itish pocket to Iran's. i\lthct~~gh Mosaddeq and llatiollalists in his party succeeded in nationalizing the oil industry and ejecting the British from Iranian soil once and for all, they failed to anticipate the upcoming cri- sis. As Mosaddeq drifted from his original path and the threat of the leftist Tudeh party beca~rle immi- nent, in 19.53 the nationalist government fell to a coup d'6tat sponsored by the C1.A and MI-6, with the .American architectural historian, Donald N. IVilber (1907-1997), allegedly as one of its covert designers."

Wilber received his doctorate in architecture frorn Prillceton University in 1949. After working as an artist for the Oriental Institute of the Univer- sit! of Chicago in ELqpt, and as an architect for ex- ca\,ations in Syria, (keece, and France in the 1930s, he served in a nunlber of academic positions, in- cluding the Asia Institute in New York, where he met Arthur Lrpham Pope. After his initial visit to Iran in 1934, Wilber became involved ~vith Iranian archaeology and made several surveys of Islamic structures with Pope. He worked with the Office of Strategic Services in Iran during the Second Mhrld LVar In 1964 he served as the adviser to the govern- ment of .4fghanistan, and frorn 1960 to 1970 as the (:hairnlan of the Iran Foundation in New York. Wil- ber authored several books and articles on contern- poran Iran and the art and architecture of Iran in Isla~rlic times, including the monu~nental The I,E- lar~zir At-chiterture of Iran ~ntl Tzo-crrl: TIP Titnnrid Peri- od."' Other books by Ll'ilber, especially It-an: Pa'nst crrltl Presrnt, ~vhich bet~vee~l

its original publication in 1948 and 1981 reached nine editions, were influ- ential in promoting Irallian nationalism.

LVilber was a member of the CIA frorn 1948 to 1970. In 1932, he was the political attache of the United States embass! in Tehran and a consultant to the State Department and the Institute for De- fense Analysis. On his role in the Operation AJAX (the CIA code name for the coup against blosad- deq), LVilber wrote:""

The fact of the matter is that I Jvas the principal planner for Operation AJAX and Tvas given authority to prepare an operational plan. . . . Dratving on a ~ariet)-of sources. we IIl'ilher and Kermit Rome\ elt] began preparing propaganda material ill Persian di- rected against hlossadeq. It included cartoons, small \+-all posters, stiort articles. Given high priority, it poul-ed off'the [Centl-a1 Intelligence] Agency's press and \\-as rushed bv air to Teh~an.where it \\-as stol-ed

"blilher 1986. hen 2000

"bC11ber and Golonlbek 1987

""TC~lher1986, 188-9.

for distribution at the proper moment. 111 preparing the plan of operation, we realized that [Xlohammad Reza] Shah ~vould not dismiss Slossadeq unless pres- sured to do so. Pressure was applied, and he did issue an imperial decree dismissing hfossadeq and allottier naming General 7,ahedi as PI-ime Minister. . . . Our principal agents handed out thousands of copies of Shah's decree. our propaganda material flooded Tehran, clandestine papers appeared, raids were mounted on Tudeh Party offices and presses. On X~~gust

19 [I9531 loyalist mobs were collected in south- ern Tehran and tvere led intc~ the modern quarters, \\.here the) swept along soldiers and officers. General Zahedi emerged from hidilig to climb into a tank and be taken to ttie radio station, tvhei-e he proclaimed the new government.

The 1953 coup ptlt an end to the political nationalism of the Mosaddeq el-a. In the decade that followed the coup, Mohamnlad Reza Shah emerged as the absolute ruler of the country, with little con- cern for either the constitution or the blajles. Backed by rising oil prices and foreign investment, especially U.S. support, Muhammad Reza Shah fos- tered an improper \'\'esternization and poorly planned industrialization of the country, ~vhich he called the "Ll'hite Revol~~tion."~'

Factories mush- roomed without sufficient econonlic or industrial infrastructure, imports skyrocketed at the expense of the local craft production, while land and social anlelioration in the early 1960s put the Shah into a collisioll course with the clergy, especially with Aya- tollah Kl~onleini.

The 1960s and 1970s ~vitnessed such a major growth in archaeological activities that one scholar has been prompted to describe it as "the Explosive Phase" in Iranian archaeology" Many expeditions embarked on fieldwork in Iran frorn European countries, the United States, Canada, and,Jap;in. In addition, the Archaeological Senice of Iran, now an established organization, contributed consider- ably to archaeological fieldwork in Iran. Further- more, the Department of Archaeology of Tehran Lrniversity under Ezat 0.Negahban began to play a more profourld role in archaeological research in Iran, both by undertaking its own projects and train- ing archaeologists to serve in the Archaeological Senice of Iran. Following Robert Adams' pioneer- ing survey, Khuzestan became an i~rlportarlt focus of research, especially to anthropologically orient- ed archaeologists, who introduced the "New Archae- ology" to Iranian archaeology."' Bp the mid to late


1970s, the new approach was widespread in Irani- an archaeology, with focus gradually shifting from single-site excavatiorls to regional sul-\eys, and more attention paid to other archaeological material be- sides architectural renlains and obj~tsrli~rl.The foun- dation of the Center for L4rchaeological Research within the Archaeological Service of Iran under Firouz Baqerzadeh in 1972 and its sponsorship of annual meetings of all archaeologists working in Iran marked the pinnacle of archaeology in Iran prior to the Revolution of 1979.

The archaeological research by academically trained archaeologists from Iran and abroad in the 1960s and 1970s had the professional discipline to free itself from nationalist biases. Indeed, very little in the archaeological literature of this period seems to convey particularly nationalist connotations.'"' There was, however, another current in Iranian pol- itics and among the intelligentsia that continued to promote such sentiments. This current was heir to the patriotism of the Reza Shah era, and follo~ving the same agenda, was ti?-ing to foster an ideoloa of nationalism by evoking the glories of pre-Islanlic Iran, especially the Achaemenid and Sasanian periods. Partially as a result of this, excavations were resumed at Persepolis and Pasargadae, two major Achaernenid capitals, and Bishapur, the capital of Sasanian em- peror Shapur I, while extensive consel~ation and reconstruction were undertaken at Persepolis. Sot surprisingly, the impact of this current was more ef- fectively felt in Iranian politics.

Iranian kingship of the Islamic period was tradi- tionally associated with the Islamic sh/rri'/r, with the king as the defender and protector of Islam. But

'"'There rvere only a handf~ll of Iranian archaeologists in these years rvho expressed nationalist sentirnentq in their rvrit- ings, among them iUi Sami and .-\li-.Utl,ar Sarfarar. iUi Sami (1 910-1989) \\-as family. 11e !Kxs seiv

born to aleartled Shira~i ingar a teacher in his home torsn.ivhen he met Eric11 Schmidt in 1936 arid becarne involved in rvork at Persepolis. Xter Schmidt's departure, he ser-ved as an assistant for Iiosein Ra- vanbotl, and in 1941 replaced hi111 as the director of the Perse- polis excavations, to be continued until 1949 and fi-om 1'352 to 1961. In the inter-val (1949-1931 ), Sami excavated at Pasar- gatlae, the capital of C:yrus I1 (the Great). Sarni authored rnore than .5O books and articles on various aspects ofancient Irani- an ci\ilirarion (see.-\. Ilousavi 1990). including TfzrAtfznrtr~~7iid Cirlzlizntio~lin three vol~utles (Sami 1962-19691 and TIZPSnsnttint? (.'i71ili;otion in hso volumes (Sarni 1963-196.5). Both boob are a tour de force ofavailable knorvledge on these hc,o periods of Iranian histoi-\.. In his introduction to the first volume of 7'hu .Ichn~~rirnir/Ci?~ili;cc/io,z,Sami (1962, 3-4) elaborated on his motivation for ~~nclertaking

such a project: "'The ancient people of this land [Iran] enjoyed a prosperous culture and art. Xthol~gh hi,to~ical events and the passage of time have

after confrontations with religious bodies, especially i-\)atollah Khorneini in the early 1960s, llohammad Reza Shah increasingly distanced hirnself from reli- gious institutions. As their influence, especially the clergy, was curbed by the State in the 1960s and 197Os, Mohammad Reza Shah sought othet. means to legit- imize his sovereignty. It has been argued that invok- ing pre-Islamic values by Mohammad Reza Shah Itas a means to achieve this.!" Indeed, stress on national- isrn and pre-Islamic values and traditions had prov- en to be an important asset in the time of his father, Reza Shah. Therefore, Mohammad Reza Shah made a great effort to present himself as the latest in a long line of great Iranian kings extending back to his favorite ruler, Cyrus I1 (the Great). Like his f~ther, who chose Pahlavi as his family name to ernphasi~e his links with pre-Islamic Iran, llohammad Rela

Shah added another historical title, iItycirnrhr (the light of the Aryans), to his many titles.

The state-sponsored attempt to marginalire Islam in favor of the supposed pre-Islamic values and tra- ditions provoked criticism from both the clergy and the liberal Islamie thinkers. hlorteza Motahhari, an established Islanlic theoretician, priblished a book emphasizing the dynamic historical interaction be- tween Islam and Iran,"' while Ali Shari'ati, one of the early advocates of Islamic political and social ide- ology, gave talks at Hoseini-ye Ershad in Tehran urg- ing Iranians to abandon IVestern and pre-Islamic traditions and return to 111eir true Shiite self: "The experts may know a great deal about the Sasanians, the Achaemenids, and even the earlier civilizatiorls, but our people know nothing about stich things. Our people do not find their roots in these civilizations.

destroyed a great deal of their remains, those hits and pieces left, nonetheless, testify to that glorious culture. It rvoould be unfair thatne neglect the strt~ggles ofour a1icesror.s and fail to respect their effot-ts by not preseivirrg their rernains. . . . Thus the a11t11or [Sami 1, like other pioneers of the discipline, have dedicated several years of his life to accomplish this task. . . . This effol-t rvas not a rrstllt of an>tl~ing but a love of mothel: land and praise of the raluable re~nains of the ancestors."

Xi .2khar Sarfarr. was the one who resumed escavations at

the Sasanian city ofBishapur. In the introduction to his excav-

tion reportar a ~nonr~mzntal ofthe.4chaemenid date,

stl~icture presumably ft-om the time of C:\TI~S 11, near Borazjan, SatSara7 (1971. 19), wrote: "It ir with great pleasure that rrith the aus- picious celebration of the 2,.i00th annivei-san of the fbundation of the Iranian Empire and the year of'Cyr~s the Great, the founder of the glorious rvorld empire, tlie Iranian archae- ological expedition disco! ered and introduced one of the pre- cious I-enlains and an example of architectural genim of this magnificant king on the shores of the Persian

"'Srnith n.d.

'"\lotahhari 1970.

guests lvere housed in an encampment of tents de- signed and made by the French decorator ,ransen. The rest of the parapheralia also came from Paris, and the Maxim restaurant was entrusted lvith cater- ing the food and beverages, all coming from Paris except for the caviar. The day after the banquet and the firelvorks display the guests sat down on the Per- sepolis platform and watched as the Iranian Army units-forbidden to shave for the past few months so that their beards could be trimmed to resemble those of ancient warriors-paraded in front of them dressed as the armies of Iranian dynasties from the Xchae- inenids to the Pahlavis. The official biographer of the Queen Farah later described the scene:"'

The tight crippled beards of the hledes anti the Persians; the srnall pointed I~eards of the Safavitis, or the fierce moustaches of Qajar troops. Shields, lanc- es, pennons, hroads~vords and daggers of earlier war- rior's, all Teere there. Beneath a scorching sun, but shieltied by parasols for those in neeti, the guests, ~vhoIvere seated on a rostrum belo~v the pillared ru- ins of C:yrus' [sic] might, ~vatched this impressive de- file. i\chaernenian foot guards, Parthian ~rarriors, the cavalry of Xerxes, litters, chariots, tanks, Bactrian canlels. Fath Ali Shah's artillery, ~carriors from the Caspian or the Persian Gulf, the Air Force, the new LVonlen's contingents of the armeti forces . . . all were there; all attested to Iran's glories. past and present.

But the high point of the ceremony was when \~Iohainn~adReza Shah stood before the tomb of Clyrus at Pasargadae and addressed hirn in a flat but e~notional voice:

To you (:yrus, Great King, King of Kings, from hfyself, Shahanshah of Iran, and from my people, Hail!

IVe are here at the lnolnent when Iran renews its pledge to Histon- to hear tcitness to irnnlense grati- tude of an entire people to you, i~nmortal Hero of Histor!, founder of tcorld's oldest empire, great lib- erator of all time, worthy son of ~nankinti.

Cyrus[,I we stanti before your eternal d~velling place and speak these solernn \cords: Sleep in peace forev- er, for Ive are awake and we remain to ~eatcli over your glorious heritage.""

tl'ith an estimated cost of between 200 and 300 million dollars, lvhile parts of Iran were suffering from farnine and the average per capita income was about $.iOO, the cerernony soon provoked massive criticism. One of the Shah's ambassadors later cyn- ically called the cerernony "some Technicolor epic of Cecil. B. Deh,iille's . . . being projected onto the screen of the vast plain.""" Some Iranians resented

"'Blanch 1978, 134.
"'Quoted in Shalecross 1988, 4&7
"" Quoted in Sharecross 1988, 44.

the cerernony for its excessive costs, while others, including the Queen, lvere unhappy that it was so much French and so little Iranian. For some histor- ical nationalists the ceremony was a fictional recre- ation of Iranian histon and a naive attempt by Mo- hainmad Reza Shah to elevate himself to the level of the great kings of ancient Iran by placing his brief dynasty on a par lvith the Aclnaemenids and Sasanians. Others described it as self-aggrandize- ment by a megalomaniac and a cause for interna- tional hun~iliation and ernbarrassmcnt for Iranians in general."'" But perhaps the most fierce criticism came froin Ayatollah Khorneini in exile in Iraq. In a declaration issued on 31 October 1951, he wrote: "Are inillions of tunzclns [Iranian clirrency] of the people's wealth to be spent on these frivolous and absurd celebrations? Are the people of Iran to have a festival for those whose behavior has been a scan- dal throughout his tor^ and ~vho are a cause of crime and oppression, of abomination and corruption, in the present age?"""

The Persepolis ceremony proved to be more of a liability than an asset for the Pahlavi govern~nent. It failed to bring 1Ioharnmad Reza Shah either the international prestige or national respect that he expected. Less than eight years after the ceremony and two years after the extravagant celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Pahlavi dynasty the Rev- olution of 1979 toppled the monarchy in Iran. DUI-- ing the revolution, the Persepolis ceremony lvas frequently recalled as an example of intolerable Pahlavi excess. Footage from the cerernony Tras oc- casionally played on national television in the first few years after the revolution to remind the people of the despotism they had overthrown.



There is no need to discuss here the causes or

outcomes of the Revolution of 19711, but it should be stressed that no event in the recent histon of Iran transforined the political structure of the coun- try as deeply as the revolution. Beginning from 7 .January 1978, lvhen the revolution was triggered by the publication of an article insulting Ayatollah Khorneini in a daily newspaper, Iran was gradually engulfed in an extensive series of demonstrations, strikes, and riots. h>ioharnmad Reza Shah's depar- ture and Ayatollah Khorneini's subsequent return to Iran in January to Februan of 1979 accelerated


Gf. F~rouz 1971.
"" Quoted in Xlgar 1981. 202.


the revolution. On 11 Februa~v 1979, after a few days of street fighting bet~reen the revolutioi~aries and the last military troops loyal to the Shah, the Pahlavi government collapsed.

The elimination of the monarchy Isas frequently stressed as the revolution's primary goal. ,4s early as 1971, in the famous declaration, "The Incompati- bility of Monarchy with Islarn," against the celebra- tion of the "500th anniversary of the foundation of the Persian empire, Ayxtollah Kliorneini stated:

God only kno~vs \\.hat cliaasters the Iranian monar- chy haa given rise [to] since its beginning and \\-hat crimes it has committed. The crimes of [the] kings of Iran ha\e blackened the pages of hiatol-y. It is the kings of Iran that ha\e constantly ordered massacres of their olvn people and had pyramids built with their skulls. . . . Tradition relates that the Prophet (upon wllo~n he peace) said that the title King of Kings, which is born b>- the monarchs of Iran, is the most hated of all titles in the sight of God. Iala~n ia funda- mentally oppoaed to the \\-hole notion of monarchy. An)-one xvho studies the manner in which the Proph- et eatahlished the ao\ernrnent of Islam will realize that Islam came in order to destroy these palaces of t)-ranny. hlonarchy ia one of the most shameful and disgraceful reactionan manifestations.""

The impact of the new regime's anti-monarchi- cal stance on Iranian societv as profound. In the first few years after the revolution, anything associ- ated with monarchy was despised, the noun 'shah' \\-as rernoved from many words or replaced with nouns such as Islcrtn or Itntrm (e.g., Shahabad was changed to Islamabad, and Bandar-e Shah was re- named Bandar-e Imam). The government even made an attempt to abolish the No~rruz festival or shorten the new year holidays, but gave up after serious objections by the general public. Textbooks, especially those on the history of Iran, were rewrit- ten,""' emphasizing the Islamic period and reli- gious figures and movements, marginalizing pre- Islarnic times as the age of ignorance, and chastiz- ing Iranian kings as oppressive despots. Pre-Islam- ic monuments were recalled not as sources of na- tional pride, but as symbols of monarchical tyranny imposed on the masses.

I11 harmony with this antagonism toward Iran's past, nationalism was widely rejected as an askew Ifistern concept promoted by colonialist powers and "Ll'estoxicated" (glzcl,6zadr,h) intellectuals. The term wle/lat (nation) gave way to owltnclt (the LIuslim

'""uoted in Xlgar 1'381, 202.
'"'Rlehran 1989.
'"-'Akhavi 1980, 175-6.
'"'According to rurnors, during the street fights in Februal~

of 19'79, the Golestan Palace was broken into and a few items, including a m\-ord of Nader Shah, Lvere taken. hcurator of the palace went immediatel! to the revol~~tiona~~officialsandasked

community), and Iranian nationalism was rejected in favor of pan-Islamic agendas, emphasizing broth- erhood arnong Muslims of the world. As soon as the Islamic government was stabilized, nationalists \sere suppressed along with the leftists and royalists. '4fter a short period of rernernbrance with admiration, h,iohammad Mosaddeq, the symbol of Iranian polit- ical nationalism, was discredited and his opponent, Ayatollah Kashani, was e~ilogized.'"~


Fortunately, antagonism toward Iran's past never rnaterialized into action. Although Inany govern- ment buildings, banks, liquor stores, and a number of foreign embassies \\-ere attacked by the revolu- tionaries throughout 1978, there is no tangible ev- idence that any museums or archaeological or his- torical sites were vandalized.'"' The rumors of' an attempt to bulldoze Persepolis by a mob led by one of the early revolutionary figures in the first few weeks after the revolution was never officially coil- firmed or denied; ho~revel; the darnage had been done. The character of archaeology in Iran had suffered enormously from the self-seming demon- strations by the Pahlavi government. Consequently, the new ideolog interpreted archaeolog as 110th- ing more than a pseudoscience in service of the court to glorify despotism and justify royal oppres- sion of the masses, both inherently against the new belief system. Accordingly, archaeology fell into disfavor. The Department of X~chaeolo~gy

of Tehran University, the only academic institution teaching archaeology in Iran at the time, was temporarily closed during the Cultural Revolution (19791982), with an attempt to abolish or incorporate it into the History Department only dropped after ol~jections by professors of archaeolog). The Insti- tute of Archae~lo~gy

of Tehran University survived only norninall!; not to resume its activities until 1990. In a general sweep, most foreign archaeologists were indicted as agents and forbidden from working in Iran, ~vhile some Iranian archaeologists were forced to retire or leave the country. Although the Archae- ological Sel~ice and the Office for Protection and Presen-ation of Historical Remains both remained fiuictional, for the first few years after the revolu- tion, archaeological activities d~rindled to only a few operations per year, mostly of urgent or salmge nature. Problem-oriented research ceased, and ar- chaeolog) became a mere bureaucratic activity.'""

for the~r help It \\as announced~mrnediateh on the radio that th~r5hould not haxe happened and the5e objects belong to people U1 the qtolen objeco rjere returned the next da\

'""or a surnrnan of archaeolog~cnl actnltles beh\een lC)79 and lC184. see the -\rchaeolog~cal Semce ofIran 1989, Depu6 fol Plotect~o~l

and Presenat~on 1984

2001] 71


It took almost 10 years for archaeo1og)- in Iran to recover. On 30 January 1985 the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHO) was formed by the C;overnment of the Islamic Republic of Iran by ill- corporating the Center for Xrchaeological Research, Center for Traditional Crafts, Center and Illuseum of Ethnography Office for Historical Re- mains, Iran Bastan Museum, Office for Protection of the <:ultural Heritage of the Provinces, Office of the Museurns, Office of Historical Structures, Office of Palaces, National <:enter for Protection of Iranian Antiquities, and Office of the Golestan Pal- ace Endolvments. On 22 April 1988, the Majles rat- ified the constitution of the ICHO. The I<:HO, ini- tially ~rorking under the auspices of the Illinistn of Culture and Higher Education and later under the Ministn. of Culture and Islamic Guidance, \\-as en- trusted ~vith extensive responsibilities over recov- ery, protection, preservation, and introduction of archaeological and historical remains in its broad- est sense. In order to achieve this, the ICHO origi- nally consisted of four deputies: Deputy for Re- search, supenising Offices for Xrchaeological, Eth- nographic, Folk Arts, and Epigraphic Research; Deputy for Protection and Presei~ation of Archae- ological and Historical Remains; Deputy for Intro- duction and Education; and Deputy for Adminis- tration and Finance.

In September 1996, the ICHO was transformed into a research institute. The former Offices in the Deputy for Research were transformed into five dis- tinct research centers: Center for Xrchaeological Research, Center for Research on Languages and Dialects, Center for Ethnographic Research, (:en- ter for Architecture and Cultural-Historical Illonu- ments, and <:enter for <:onservation Research.'"' The ICHO now fiinctions under the supenision of the Council of Research, consisting of the Director of ICHO, the Deputy for Research, Directors of Re- search Centers, and three to five established schol- ars from universities or other research institutes. In the Surnmer of 1997, the Center for Xrchaeolog- ical Research developed three departments to de- sign, organize, and undertake research on prehis- toric, historic, and Islarnic periods.

The foundation of the ICHO in 1985 marks the beginning of a new era in archaeological activities in Iran. Shortly after its foundation, the ICHO es- tablished offices in centers of all provinces, with subsidiary offices in major tolvns. Registration of archaeological and historical sites gained momell-

'"'111 November 2000 a sixth center for Paleoanthropolog- ical and Paleolithic Research was established.

"'" .Uizadeh 19115.

tum, and guards, operating from provincial and regional offices, were assigned to protect archaeo- logical sites. tloreover, local societies were formed in rural areas for protection of archaeological and historical sites. <:landestine excavations and loot- ing of archaeological and historical sites, ~rhich had l~ecomean ordinat7; activity in remote areas in the early years after the revolution, \\-err: widely prevent- ed, antiquities dealing was outlawed, and in 1990 the Government launched a massive crackdo~vn against illegal diggers and antiquities dealers. Xn- tiq~iities stores were closed, hundreds were arrest- ed, tens of thousands of artifacts were confiscated, and a few staff members ofsome foreign ernbassies, allegedly related to illegal diggers and antiquities dealers, were expelled from the country.

The ICHO resumed problem-oriented archaeo- logical research in Iran. Since 1990, archaeologi- cal activities have increased considerably. Several large-scale national pro-jects involving survey exca- vation, and consen.ation were designed, only two of ~rl~icl~, operat-

Harnedan and Soltaniyeh, are no\\- ing on an annual basis. In addition, some projects of smaller scale, including excavations at Bandiy- an, are no\\- operating on a regular basis. Further- more, for the first time after the revolution, a joint ICHO-Oriental Institute of the University of Chica- go expedition conducted some surveys in north- western Fars in March 1995,"'Vollo~ved by a joint excavation at (:hogha Bonut in Susiana in Septern- ber-October 1996,'"" and a joint Iranian-German excamtion at Arisman in April-May 2000.

The ICHO has also sponsored two symposia 011 archaeological research in Iran, the first at Susa on 14-17 April 1994,"" and the second in Tehr-an on 18-2l November 199'7."' These symposia fur- nished Iranian archaeologists with an opportunity to meet and discuss the latest results of their re- search and problems in Iranian archaeology. The second symposium was fbllolved by the inaugura- tion of a new series, Archaeolog'ctr/RP~o~t.,

oJIran (ART), the official periodical of the Centel. for Xrchaeo- logical Research, primarily concerned with mak- ing reports of field archaeological projects avail- able to the public. AH~\-ill join the small family of journals published by ICHO: lLfzrcr'.,-r Forhangi (1989-), .I.,clr (1980-), and .Lluzehfi (1980-), as well as the Irclnian.journcrI oJ .Irchaeolocy, and Historj (published by Iran University Press, 1986- ).

In addition to the Department of'Archaeology at Tehran University, long the sole academic cell-


cal connection of the attempts to change the name of the Persian Gulf and criticized foreign archaeol- ogists who s~vitched frorn Persian Gnlf to one of the illegitimate names after their fieldwork in Iran was disrupted after the Revolution of 1979."'

Nationalism and archaeolog Fvere both import- ed into Iran in the 19th century by 1l.tstern-educat- ed Iranians or the introduction of Mtstern concepts and disciplines into the Iranian society. Not sur- prisingl>., for average Iranians, to ~vhorn the past was a living pr~~jection

of the present, both arcl~aeolo~q and nationalism were difficult to comprehend. The past and its physical rernains were scarcely consid- ered a subject ~vorthy of scholarly investigation, only as objects of antiquarian curiosity or monetar-) greed.

Nationalism, on the other hand, was a direct re- action to external interference that characterizes past and recent Iranian history It was only natural that with these premises, both archaeology and na- tionalism would face obstacles as they developed. Sationalism led to political manipulation and na- ive chauvinism, ~rhile archaeology rent tl~roligl~ several stages of metamorphosis to emerge as an established scientific inquiry. In the meantime, the development of nationalism and the study of an- cient histoiy in Iran are marked by symptom of an old chronic despondency, that is, seeking exter- nal scapegoats fbr internal perplexities that occa- sionally put Iranian culture into critical situa- tions."Starting frorn pre-Islamic times, the Greeks or the Arabs were blamed for destroying the Achae- rnenid and Sasanian empires, ignoring the inter- nal problems these t~vo imperial systems faced. 111 times closer to ours, the British, the Russians, and the Americans were resented for their interference in Iranian aff'airs and blamed them for many do- mestic problems.

.\lthough the old habit is still alive in some quar- ters, a neIv trend in Iranian scholar-ship is beginning to look inward, to seek internal pr-oblenis that have led to the decline of Iran in the recent past. Owing to its pivotal place in Iranian cultur-e, students of the Persian language are the first to ask the relevant questions. The shortcomings of Persian in coping ~vith an avalanche of new concepts and terms that marks our era is no longer described as a conspiracy to corrupt the symbol of Iranian national identi?, but is diagnosed as Persian speakers' preoccupa- tion wit11 h~un1anities rather than sciences, which require development of specialized terminology and prose.'"+ In the field of historiography, the old con- spiracy theories are slo~vly giving way to more realis- tic studies based on internal elernents of Iranian 11isto1y.l~'In this transitional period in Iranian schol- arship, archaeology and the study of ancient histon have proven to be more resistant to this new critical perspective. One should bear in mind that archae- olocgy and the study of ancient histon suffered the most from the Revolution of 1979. Thus it is under- standable that they might be the last to emerge from the post-revolutiona17; coma, and, despite consider- able quantitative increase, both are still among the fields with the fewest practitioners. In the fnture, the revolution that is occurring in the humanities in Iran at the moment may extend to archaeology and the study of ancient 11211, and subsequently to the character of Iranian nationalism.


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