Full and Partial Scholarships

For Postgraduate Studies

The Soudavar Memorial Foundation’s scholarships are highly competitive and awarded on merit to students who possess outstanding academic credentials and demonstrate exceptional leadership potential. We take great pride in their achievements past and present as they continue to enrich our understanding and knowledge of the Iranian World at prestigious institutions across the globe.

Full Scholarships

Nadia Bargneyssi

Nadia Bargneyssi was awarded a scholarship for a PhD at the University of Göttingen in 2004. Her thesis, Abbasid Administrative Terminology in Iran, aims to produce a Lexicon of Abbasid Chancellery and administrative terminology with particular reference to Iran and with comprehensive references to the sources, supervised by Professor Philip G. Kreyenbroek, Professor and Director of Iranian Studies.

Amir Ardalan Emami

In August 2015 the Soudavar Memorial Foundation made a grant to Amir Ardalan Emami for a PhD degree in the history of Zoroastrianism at Leiden University’s  Centre for the Study of Religion. His application was recommended by Professor Albert de Jong, his supervisor, for research work on his thesis entitled “Transformations in Ancient Iranian Religion: the Achaemenids as agents of long-term change.” Amir Ardalan Emami was recommended for a sabbatical in  2017-18  as a visiting fellow at the department for the study of religion at Aarhus University in Denmark, a prominent hub for researches in cognitive and evolutionary approaches in the study of religion. His contribution there falls  within the framework of a long-term project to write a new history of religion gained based on recent research and insight.

Shervin Farridnejad

Shervin Farridnejad was awarded a scholarship for a PhD at the University of Göttingen from 2008-13. His thesis, The Language of Images: A Study on Iconographic Exegesis of the Anthropomorphic Divine Images in Zoroastrianism (Eine ikonographisch/ikonologische Studie zu zoroastrischen Aspekten der sasanidischen Kunst) was supervised by Professor Philip G. Kreyenbroek, Professor and Director of Iranian Studies.

In 2014, Dr Farridnejad was appointed as a Lecturer of Iranian Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany.

Saloumeh Gholami
Saloumeh Gholami

Saloumeh Gholami was awarded a scholarship for a PhD in Iranian Studies at the Goethe-Universitaet in Frankfurt from 2010-12 for a thesis on the position of Bactrian among Indo-Iranian languages; entitled Selected Features of Bactrian Grammar, It was published in 2014 by Harassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, within the series Göttinger Orientforschungen IRANICA.

In 2013, Dr Gholami was appointed a Lecturer at the Institute of Comparative Linguistics, Goethe University, Germany.

She is currently organising jointly with Prof. Pollet Samvelian an international  conference on  “Endangered Iranian Languages” as follows:

The International Symposium on Endangered Iranian Languages (ISEIL) proudly announces the second symposium to be held at the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle, France, from 8 to 9 July 2016, as part of a cooperation between the Empirical Linguistics, at the Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany and UMR “Mondes iranien et indien” (CNRS, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, INALCO, EPHE).

The Symposium is the most significant gathering of scholars from all the regions of the world and across different disciplinary interests in the field “Endangered Iranian Languages”. It serves as a platform for presenting new knowledge and insights.

The theme of the Symposium allows for rich and concentrated dialogues to take place among scholars coming from different disciplinary backgrounds. Authors of abstracts are encouraged to develop their own specific entry points into addressing the theme of the symposium.

As a broad, but non-exhaustive guide, some of the sub-themes that will be covered by the symposium include:
-Developing of an Atlas for endangered Iranian languages or dialect Maps
-New methods, conflicts and solutions concerning documenting endangered Iranian languages
-Philology, Morphology, Phonology, Syntax of endangered Iranian languages
-Dialectology of endangered Iranian languages

Shahrokh Raei

Shahrokh Raei was awarded a scholarship for a PhD at the University of Göttingen from 2003-07. His thesis, The End of Time and the Apocalypse in Zoroastrian Texts together with a translation of the Jamaspnamag, has considerably improved understanding of Zoroastrian and comparative eschatology.

In 2009, Dr Raei was appointed Assistant Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany.

Esther Ravalde

A scholarship awarded to Esther Ravalde enabled her to complete her Master’s thesis, Shams al-Din Juvayni in the Light of New Evidence from the ‘Safinia-ye Tabriz: Patronage and the Role of the Vizier in the Ilkhanate’, at SOAS, which is due to be published in a forthcoming volume by Brill entitled ‘The Mongols and the Transformation of the Middle East’, edited by Charles Melville and Bruno De Nicola.

Yusef Saadat

Yusef Saadat completed his PhD in 2022. He was awarded scholarships from 2014 to 2020 for his doctorate at the Free University of Berlin to complete his thesis, How to Read Middle Persian through a Lexicographical Approach: Re-reading some Selected Sections of Dēnkard 6.


This thesis proposes a lexicographical approach to reading Pahlavi texts; this will provide a robust and reliable tool to solve some long-standing problems, make the editions and translations more precise and improve the quality of our understanding of the language. Some selected sections of Dēnkard 6 are scrutinized as a case study to show that it is necessary to return to the philological and lexicographical approaches to reading and translating the Pahlavi texts.

Several layers of definitions and sub-definitions of each lemma in the lexica of a language like New Persian, especially in the eyes of a lexicographer, may remind a Middle Persian scholar of the necessity of a similar prospect semantic diversity of each headword for a classical language like Middle Persian. The same must be expected in a Lexicon for Middle Persian as a language which, like Persian, was used as the scholastic language of different religions and the official language in vast areas for several centuries. However, this complicated situation is usually neglected in the editions and translations of Middle Persian texts, and for understanding them, many scholars almost solely rely on the extant dictionaries, which provide limited semantic aspects of each word that led to many inaccurate and careless results in some published translations of the texts.

This thesis used every effort to gather and study almost all the evidence of many words (sometimes more than 100 evidences for each word), the meaning of which may seem to many scholars pretty known. Then we tried to distinguish the sub-definitions of these words in different contexts. Finally, the evidences and meanings that fit best in the context have been chosen. The cross-checking of most of the manuscripts’ evidences made this task possible. As such, the definition of many words and translation of several passages in Dēnkard 6 and  Dēnkard 3 were changed in this thesis.

Zahra Talaee

Zahra Talaee was awarded a scholarship for a PhD. For her thesis, The Religious Function of the Endowment Institute of Astan-e Quds Razawi in the Safavid period (1501 – 1736 AD), based on Job Documents, she is perusing sixty thousand unrevealed manuscripts in the Astan-e Quds to understand why the Shrine of Mashhad was chosen by the shah as the place for the promulgation of Shi’ism and the political methods used to achieve this.

Alireza Zahedi-Moghadam

Alireza Zahedi-Moghadam was awarded a scholarship for a PhD in Iranian Studies at the University of Göttingen in 2009. His thesis, Idols, Images of God’s World: Polytheism and Monotheism in the Ancient World (Die Eschatologie der Ahl-e Haqq: eine Analyse der Quellen), is supervised by Professor Philip G. Kreyenbroek, Professor and Director of Iranian Studies.

Amin Shayesteh Doust

Amin Shayesteh Doust completed his PhD in 2022 jointly at SAPIENZA UNIVERSITATÀ  DI ROMA and Tehran University. He was awarded from  2019 to 2021 for his thesis Study of Marriage, Divorce, and Family Institution in the Sassanid Era Based on the Syriac and Pahlavi Legal Texts.


This dissertation aims to recognize and grasp the ups and downs of Iranian social history by examining marriage, divorce, and family patterns during the Sasanian period through the lens of Syriac and Pahlavi legal records. On the one hand, research into the Sasanian family is crucial given the changes in Iranian society’s legal and social structures after the fall of the Sasanian Empire, as the family institution played a key role in the transmission of name, social rank, and private property throughout the Sasanian era and was a pillar of Sasanian society. On the other hand, the research explains the Sasanian legal and customary traditions used to build the legal systems that came after. New requirements and ways of living are constantly influencing the family. New living demands, established segments of society, and a set of norms have altered behavior patterns connected to major social interests. As a consequence, new mechanisms are constantly replacing older ones, altering how individuals interact on various levels. Nonetheless, several factors aided resistance to institutional changes and even reinforced and perpetuated existing institutions. The current dissertation examines and studies these accelerating and inhibiting factors in the evolution of family institutions during the Sasanian era, tracing their origins in the past and identifying their continuation in post-Sasanian legal texts, using a socio-historical approach and inter-textual comparison analysis.

Partial Scholarships

Bahram Assadian

A partial scholarship was awarded to Bahram Assadian, for work on his PhD in the Department of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. His thesis, entitled Displacing Numbers: On the Metaphysics of Mathematical Structuralism, investigates the nature and identity of numbers and other mathematical objects while also  resuscitating Persian and especially Avicenna’s ‘discoveries on the logic of necessity’.

Thus the central aim of Bahram Assadian’s doctoral thesis is “to scrutinise some of the most philosophically interesting challenges that emerge out of this conception of natural numbers.”

“Is mathematics about distinctively mathematical entities such as the natural numbers, or is it about the ‘structures’ or ‘forms’ of such entities? This project has been centred on what is known as mathematical structuralism – the thesis that argues for the latter claim.”

By dealing with the philosophical challenges of numbers, this research also resuscitates Persian and especially Avicenna’s ‘discoveries on the logic of necessity’. Through its contribution to the philosophy of mathematics as understood by Ibn-e Sina (Avicenna), it sheds light on unduly neglected aspects of the Avicennian conception of the subject matter of mathematics and explains his account of mathematical objects and theories in structuralist settings.

These issues are discussed in six chapters which conclude “by outlining some of the applications of this alternative view to arithmetical platonism.”

Zahir Bhaloo

Zahir Bhaloo was awarded a scholarship in the final year of his doctorate at the University of Oxford to complete his thesis, The Qajar Jurist and his Ruling: A Study of Judicial Practice in Nineteenth-Century Iran under the supervision of Professor Edmund Herzig, the Masoumeh and Fereydoon Soudavar Professor of Persian Studies.

Arash Emadinia

Arash Emadinia was supported throughout the preparation of his doctoral thesis at Goettingen University under the supervision of Professor Kreyenbroek. His thesis, titled The Soul in the Afterlife: Individual Eschatological Beliefs in Zoroastrianism, Mandaeism and Islam, was presented and accepted in November 2017.

Parsa Ghasemi

Parsa Qasemi completed his PhD in 2020. He was awarded partial scholarships from 2017 to 2021 for his doctorate at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne to complete his thesis, The Archaeological Landscape of the Sar Mašhad Region, Southwestern Fars, Iran, During the Sasanian and Early Islamic period.


Given its location in the very heart of ancient Pārs Province in southwestern Iran, in the intermediate region between Bišābuhr, Firuzābād, Farāšband, and the Persian Gulf, Sar Mašhad is one of the most important regions for understanding Sasanian Imperial policy regarding urbanization and land use patterns. Since 2006, I have conducted several seasons of archaeological surveys in the region. During the most recent season in 2016, an intense landscape archaeological survey was combined with remote sensing of historical aerial photographs and satellite imagery. This method identified numerous urban and rural settlement sites, structures, and landscape features dating to the Sasanian and Islamic periods. The results of field studies presented in this dissertation show that this region received relatively little attention before the Sasanian Period. Still, from the Early Sasanian Period until the Middle Islamic Period, the landscape of this region was intensively exploited. The Sasanians invested intensively in this region, the population increased, settlements developed, and many large urban and rural centres were established very close to each other. This investment might be due to its location in the core of the Pārs region and proximity to the main urban and population centres, such as Ardašīr-Xwarrah, Bišābuhr, and Jereh of the Sasanian Period. Alongside these changes, economic activities, especially the intensive, large-scale irrigated agricultural system reliant on the qanāt hydraulic system, were constructed in this semi-arid land, which resulted in significant exploitation of the landscape and environment in this region.

Along with these developments, regional and trans-regional communication routes flourished. Many hydraulic systems, water-related structures, and infrastructure (qanāts, wells, open surface canals, weirs, pools, and cisterns) were created to irrigate the large-scale agriculture in this area of Pārs. In addition, a very high level of security was maintained in the region with the construction of a set of defensive structures, such as fortresses, forts, watchtowers, and Tol-e Ḵandaq structures, over the heights or on the plains of the region near the communication routes and within rural and urban sites. The results of this investigation are placed in the broader context of the landscape of the Pārs region during the Sasanian and Islamic periods and discussed in detail.

Yousef Moradi

Dr Yousef Moradi was awarded in 2021 a six-month postdoctoral fellowship to work on his ongoing study of 2000 Sassanian bullae and seal impressions at the SOAS, University of London. The SMF contribution completed the 2019-21 Marie Curie Fellowship awarded and granted while pending another fellowship by the European Research Council to Dr Morady to work with Professor Almut Hintze at SOAS on the publication of the bullae. In this period, he gave a lecture Ancient Iran and Indi Trust (AIIT).

Jaimee Comstock-Skipp

Jaimee Comstock-Skipp was awarded a partial scholarship towards her Masters  degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, starting autumn 2014.  She completed a second MA program in spring 2015 in a special program on Mongol through Safavid Persian book arts under Sussan Babaie. She received highest marks, obtaining a ‘Distinction’ on her MA dissertation entitled, Heroes of Legend, Heroes of History: Militant Manuscripts of the Shaybanid Uzbeks in Transoxiana. This June, with funds from the British Institute of Persian Studies, she spent the entire month in Iran touring the region and its museums and monuments.

In August, Jaimee departed for Tajikistan to carry out research funded by the Fulbright Program. This will be her fifth sojourn in Tajikistan where she will reside for a year in Dushanbe and Panjikent,. Intrigued by the cultural, artistic, and literary connections across the Persian eocumene with regards to the Shahnama epic, a text that straddles Iran and Turan, along with history and legend, her project will investigate Tajik heritage and cultural identity in relation to the Shahnama and other poetic works, hoping to uncover how Tajiks make sense of their heritage through their own interpretations of the tales and material culture in their museums.

Mehrbod Khanihzadeh

Mehrbod Khanizadeh was awarded a contribution towards his PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. His thesis, The Pahlavi Version of Yasna 9.1-15  was supervised by Professor Almut Hintze, the Zartoshty Brothers Professor of Zoroastrianism.

Pedram Khosronejad

Pedram Khosronejad completed his PhD in 2007. He was awarded a scholarship for the final year of this doctorate at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) to complete his thesis, Les Lions en Pierre Sculptés chez les Bakhtiâri: Description et Significations de Sculptures Zoomorphes dans une Société Tribale du Sud-ouest de l’Iran (Stone Lion Sculptures among the Bakhtiari: Descriptions and Meanings of Zoomorphoric Sculptures in a Tribal Society of South-western Iran), supervised by Professor Thierry Zarcone, Research Director of CNRS.

He was appointed the Iran Heritage Foundation Goli Rais Larizadeh Fellow for the Anthropology of Iran at the University of St Andrews in 2009 – the only such post dedicated to the anthropology of Iran in Europe – and published his thesis in 2013. He is presently the Farzaneh Family Scholar and Associate Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies at the School of International Studies & School of Media and  Comunication Strategy at Oklahoma State University, U.S.A

Kiyan Foroutan

Kiyan Foroutan completed his PhD in 2022. He was awarded a scholarship for the final year of this doctorate in 2021 at Leiden University to complete his thesis The Zoroastrian Families in Pre-modern India and Iran: Identity Maintenance in Minority Settings.


The dissertation has been divided into two parts. Part one consists of introductory questions, namely the theoretical chapter on the dynamics of family religion and situating Persian Rivayats in their social, historical

and geographical contexts. Part two deals with the passages related to family religiosity in the thesis’s principal source, namely Persian Rivayats. Some of the main features of the dissertation are as follow:

-The first in-depth study of the familial dimension of Zoroastrianism and its role in the maintenance and development of the religion. This dimension is in a complex interaction with the priestly version but works to a certain extent independent from it. However, both are social variations of the same religious tradition. Through this, the common, circumcised definition of Zoroastrianism is broadened. This definition is based on a particular set of scripture written by priests only (Avestan and Pahlavi texts).

-By focusing on the institution of the family and its related subjects, this dissertation hopes to contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind the survival of minority religions in the pre-modern Middle East and South Asia

-As a no man’s land, studying any aspect of medieval and early modern Zoroastrianism helps fill the seemingly unsurmountable gap between Perso-Islamic and ancient Iranian studies.

-Reads Persian Rivayats in their Parsi and Iranian contexts (contra seeing them as ancillary texts with regard to Avestan and Pahlavi texts) and in combination with other contemporary sources. These letters offer us the first glimpses of lived Zoroastrianism in any pre-modern context.

– Incorporates some unpublished late Rivayats.

Hossein Parsinejad

Hossein Parsinejad completed his MSc in 2021. He was awarded partial scholarships from 2019 to 2020 for his Master’s studies at the MSc program at the University of Salford in Manchester (UK) to complete his Master’s thesis, the recommendation of a Lean process for implementation of high-tech tools for three Ilkhanid and Timurid assets in Tabriz.


The research suggests a target process for the Management of Using Digital Tools in the Conservation, Repair and Maintenance (CRM) and Restoration sector with a significant focus on three Islamic assets in north-western Iran, Tabriz. The implementation includes buffering the inefficiencies, behavioural blockers, constraints of the tools and the activities, and the barriers in the conventional process. This dissertation is the result of a 10-month research about Iran’s Built Cultural Heritage field and the outcome of interviewing distinct experts who are working in support of boosting the heritage values in architectural assets; certainly, Conservation, Repair and Maintenance and Restoration activities for the elimination of multiple risks to the assets’ attributes and significance that are standing on the top priorities for the preservation of Iran Cultural Heritage. Even though there were various barriers to the feasibility of the initial proposal for this intensive master of science course at Salford, such as the novel worldwide pandemic, this research consists of very effective research on the process of using high-tech tools in the practices of three Iranian case studies that are maintained by MCTH (Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts). This research is initiating further research on the acquisition and usage of the tools to bring maximum efficiency to heritage activities.

Moujan Matin

Moujan Matin completed her PhD thesis  in November 2016 under the supervision of Professors Oliver Watson, Michael Tite, and Mark Pollard. The title of her thesis is




The beginnings of Islamic ceramics have long been attributed to the opaque white glazed wares made in Iraq in the 9th century in response to the imported Chinese porcelain and stoneware. These Islamic glazes were known to have been opacified by tin-oxide and much work has been undertaken to characterise their development and spread. However, little has been done to explain the origins of this technology and its invention in Iraq.

This thesis takes a new approach to investigating the beginnings of Islamic glazed pottery. It examines the technical aspects of early Islamic glazed wares from the 7th to 10th century AD from the Eastern Mediterranean to Central Asia. A significant number of sherds from Fustat, Aqaba, Al-Mina, Raqqa, Samarra, Basra, Kish, Susa, Nishapur, Merv and Samarqand were sampled and analysed using a scanning electron microscope equipped with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Particular focus was placed on the opaque yellow glazes from the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia (7th-9th century) and the opaque white glazes from Mesopotamia and Central Asia (9th -10th century). The analyses showed that the opaque yellow glazes and the opaque white glazes were respectively the result of lead-tin-oxide particles in high lead glazes, and tin-oxide particles in lead-alkali and alkali-lead glazes. Using experimental replication, it was found that at temperatures around 900°C, and in the presence of alkalis and alkaline earths, lead-tin-oxide particles convert to tin-oxide and that the colour of the glaze changes from yellow to white. It was therefore argued that the opaque yellow glazed wares of the 7th/8th-century Eastern Mediterranean represent a precursor to the opaque white glazed wares that flourished in Iraq in the 9th century. The results have helped change the way the beginnings of Islamic ceramics are viewed: origins in the 7th/8th century AD rather than the 9th century AD, first developed in Egypt or the Levant rather than Iraq, and indigenous rather than Chinese-inspired. The eastward spread of Islamic glazed wares to Iraq in the 9th century follows the move of the Islamic capital from Damascus, Syria, to Baghdad, Iraq, and the further spread of this technology east and west can now be traced.

Mahsa Mohajer

Mahsa Mohajer is undertaking a PhD in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield, supervised by Dr Ross Cameron, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Management, Ecology and Design. Her research aims to develop new approaches for designed urban plant communities to meet ecological and sustainability needs, which will significantly improve the efficiency of water use in Iran’s urban landscape. Her scholarship was discontinued after she changed her subject.

Narges Nematollahi

Narges Nematollahi was awarded a scholarship for her PhD started at SOAS under the supervision of Almut Hintze, Zartoshty Brothers Professor of Zoroastrianism. Her research project, entitled ‘The Avesta and Pahlavi Versions of the Hymns to Sraosha’ is aimed at creating a critical text edition based on the manuscripts of the Avesta and Pahlavi versions of Yasna 56, 57 and Yasht 11, with commentary, translation and dictionary. Narges is now at the University of Indiana Bloomington, where she was invited to continue her PhD.

Janet O'Brien

Janet O’Brien completed her PhD in 2022 at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. She was awarded three partial scholarships from 2017 to 2020 for her thesis Nādir Shāh: The Emergence of Royal Portraiture and a New Body Politic in Eighteenth-Century Iran. While preparing her PhD, O’Biren was Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellow, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington DC, from June 2020 to May 2022.


In a little over a decade, Nādir Shāh (r.1736-47) ousted the last remaining Safavids, founded the Afsharid dynasty (1736-96), and became the fiercest conqueror of his time, with an empire stretching from the Caucasus to India. His image is captured in diverse representations, including the earliest extant corpus of single portraits of an Iranian ruler. Yet, they have never been studied as a phenomenon that ushered in the new genre of royal portraiture in Iran. Individual depictions of kings were virtually absent in the Safavid period (1501-1722) despite the popularity of portraiture, and kingship was represented as a ruling institution. My primary inquiry traces how, and why, the royal image was reinvented from the corporate to the corporeal under Nādir, while maintaining dialogic relationships with the Safavid past and the Zand (1751-94) and Qajar (1785-1925) future. Theories of the body politic, never before applied in Persian painting, provide a methodological tool to contrast the divergent displays of power and underlying ideologies. Employing the royal body as the thematic backbone of a three-part analysis, this study investigates, first, Nādir’s single-figure depictions and the fashioning of his body into a world conqueror endowed with farr (divine glory) and a national saviour of Īrān-zamīn (Land of Iran); second, the foregrounding of the royal self in his group compositions; and third, his Indian portraits, specifically how and why the body of an Iranian ruler is translated into the local vocabularies and inserted into the Mughal pictorial genealogy and the British colonial narrative. The thesis concludes with a consideration of how the image of Nādir traversed both empires and epochs. All his paintings were made after the conquest of India in 1739, an event that propelled him onto the world stage. His emergent body in painting needs to be framed against the rhetoric of empire and his claim of universal sovereignty as the shāhanshāh (king of kings). His painters drew from the visual languages of Iran, India, and Europe to devise a polyglot image that crosses cultural and religious boundaries. Their creations gave rise to a new body of the shah, one that served as a model for portraits of Zand and Qajar rulers. Through this focussed study of royal portraiture, I aim to put forward new ways of seeing representations of Iranian kings and kingship, and to attend to the neglected eighteenth century in Persian painting. (Land of Iran); second, the foregrounding of the royal self in his group compositions; and third, his Indian portraits, specifically how and why the body of an Iranian ruler is translated into the local vocabularies and inserted into the Mughal pictorial genealogy and the British colonial narrative. The thesis concludes with a consideration of how the image of Nādir traversed both empires and epochs. All his paintings were made after the conquest of India in 1739, an event that propelled him onto the world stage. His emergent body in painting needs to be framed against the rhetoric of empire and his claim of universal sovereignty as the shāhanshāh (king of kings). His painters drew from the visual languages of Iran, India, and Europe to devise a polyglot image that crosses cultural and religious boundaries. Their creations gave rise to a new body of the shah, one that served as a model for portraits of Zand and Qajar rulers. Through this focussed study of royal portraiture, I aim to put forward new ways of seeing representations of Iranian kings and kingship, and to attend to the neglected eighteenth century in Persian painting.

Ali Mousavi

In 2017 and 2018, the Soudavar Foundation founded Dr. Ali Mousavi of UCLA for his archaeological excavations at the site of Pasargadae. It was a part of a five-year project approved and also funded in part by the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (ICAR) and the Research Base of the World Heritage Site of Pasargadae. The World Heritage site of Pasargadae was the first dynastic site of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great, in Fars, in the 6th century B.C. Its palaces, gardens and the mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture and exceptional testimonies of the Persian civilization. The project focuses on a few unexplored localities at the site, the most important of which are the enigmatic monument known as the Zendan and the Tall-e Takht or the citadel of Pasargadae. Besides, the project aims to explore the prehistoric mounds of the plain, which bear witness to a long sequence of human settlements at the site, the vicinity of the tomb of Cyrus, including the remains of the Islamic period. During the past seasons, four areas in the plain of Pasargadae were explored: the prehistoric area known as Tol-e Khari, the Sacred Precinct, the building behind the ruined tower known as Zendan-e Suleiman, and the Tall-e Takht. The excavation of the mound behind the ruined tower known as the Zendan revealed the plan of a sizable building and its different phases. Work in this area is essential in that it may show the same apparatus known from the similar tower of Ka’abah Zartusht at Naqsh-e Rustam. The work at Tol-e Khari, which revealed finds and traces of the Tol-e Bakun culture with distinctly painted pottery, administrative stamp seals, seal impressions as well as small votive figurines in terracotta, will continue with the aim of a better understanding of the extent of the site and its architectural vestiges.

Adeela Qureishi

A one year grant was awarded to Adeela Qureishi for the completion of her thesis on the Mughal Qamaragah (hunting enclosures) as represented in Iran. Her book The Hunts as Metaphor in Mughal Painting was published in 2022 as an Artibus Asiae monograph (suppl 56) by the Museum Rietberg in Zurich.

Shahrokh Razmjou

Shahrokh Razmjou was awarded a scholarship for two years of his PhD from 2007-08, which he had begun at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and completed at Birkbeck College, University of London supervised by Dr John Curtis, Director of the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum. Dr Razmjou’s thesis, Ritual Practices at Persepolis, was awarded the Foundation of Iranian Studies’ Dissertation Prize in 2008.

Razmjou was previously Director of the Centre for Achaemenid Studies at the National Museum of Iran, a Clore Leadership Fellow in 2007, appointed curator of Ancient Iran in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum (2009-2012), and is currently teaching at the Department of Archaeology, University of Tehran.

Pejman Akbarzadeh

Derbent: What Persia Left Behind | Documentary Film

Pejman Akbarzadeh was granted in 2020 to produce the first-ever documentary film on the Sasanian-era Darband Fortress in Dagestan, Russia. The Sasanian Fortress in Darband was built in the 5th/6th century AD to protect the Persian Empire from invasion by nomadic peoples to the north. The defence structures remained in continuous use by the succeeding Persian, Arab and Turkish governments until the Russian invasion in the 19th century. The ancient city of Darband (Derbent) and its strategic structures are considered the most significant to the Sasanians’ defence system. In addition to its historical and archaeological importance, Darband Fortress contains more than 30 Pahlavi inscriptions on its walls discovered between 1723-2001. According to the Encyclopaedia Iranica, “the Middle Persian inscriptions of Darband represent the northernmost extent in the spread of Pahlavi writing”.

Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, the fortress is quite unknown to many.

There are no documentary films and only a few serious investigations of the site and its inscriptions exist.

Arash Zeini

Arash Zeini was awarded a scholarship for his first year at SOAS as a PhD student in 2008-09. His thesis, entitled The Pahlavi Version of the Yasna Haptanghāiti, was completed in 2013 and supervised by Professor Almut Hintze, the Zartoshty Brothers Professor of Zoroastrianism.