Established in 2017 as the premier research center for the study of ancient Iran, the mission of the Pourdavoud Institute for the Study of the Iranian World is to engage in transformative research on all aspects of Iranian antiquity, including its reception in the medieval and modern periods, by expanding on the traditional domains of Old Iranian studies and promoting cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scholarship.
The Pourdavoud Institute intends to be a disciplinary home to stimulating intellectual encounters and exchanges for scholars working on ancient Iran and the ancient world, and will contribute to the development of collaborative research projects in such diverse areas as Assyriology, Biblical Studies, Central Asian studies, Classics, Egyptology, ancient History, Indology, Sinology, and the Study of Religion.
Honoring an Iconic Scholar
The Pourdavoud Institute for the Study of the Iranian World, named after the late Professor Ebrahim Pourdavoud, was made possible by a gift from his granddaughter, Dr. Anahita Naficy Lovelace, and her husband, James B. Lovelace. Professor Pourdavoud, an iconic scholar of ancient Iran, is responsible for instituting the study of ancient Persia as an academic discipline in 1924, and training and mentoring generations of scholars during his career. He pioneered the first new Persian translation of the Avesta, the sacred scriptures of the Zoroastrian religion, and profoundly impacted Iranian mores by resurrecting and identifying ancient Persia as a positive force for societal progress in Iran.
The Pourdavoud Institute was first inagurated as a center, and celebrated its grand opening on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 in the historic setting of UCLA’s prestigious Royce Hall. Attended by Chancellor Gene Block, Dean David Schaberg, benefactors Dr. Anahita Naficy Lovelace and Mr. Jim Lovelace, Director M. Rahim Shayegan, honored faculty, and distinguished guests, the evening featured a keynote address by Professor Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature at Harvard University and Director of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies. His lecture, “Thinking Iranian, Rethinking Greek,” examined Greek thought regarding the Iranian world and Iranian perceptions of the Greeks. This keynote was a highlight of, in Professor Nagy’s own words, “a very special event celebrating the greatness of this Iranian world.”
To read the transcript of Professor Gregory Nagy’s keynote, “Thinking Iranian, Rethinking Greek,” please click here.
In 2023, the Pourdavoud Center was renamed the Pourdavoud Institute for the Study of the Iranian World, thanks to an additional endowment gift.