CALMEYER, Peter, German archaeologist and Iranologist (b. 5 September 1930 in Halle, d. 22 November 1995 in Berlin). His father, Hans Georg Calmeyer, an attorney-at-law, and his mother, Ruth, both came from Westphalia, and the family moved there to settle in Osnabrück in 1931. Peter attended Lienenschweg elementary school, but, due to the Second World War, he had to attend different high schools at Dresden, Blasewitz, The Hague and Goslar, and the country boarding school at Solling, Holzminden, eventually passing the pre-university qualifying exam in March 1950 in Osnabrück. This period of wandering and hardship deeply influenced Peter Calmeyer’s life and works, and living among different people enhanced his scholarly talents and charismatic character. From the summer of 1950, he studied classical archaeology first in Münster (under Professor Max Wegner), then in Munich, and later in Berlin (under Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Goethert). A scholarship enabled him to spend the academic year 1954-55 in Copenhagen, and when he returned to attend the Free University of Berlin, he changed his field of study to Near Eastern Archaeology. He was heavily influenced by the ancient historian Franz Altheim, the linguist Johannes Friedrich, and in particular, by Anton Moortgat, the founder of Near Eastern archaeology in Germany. His love of the arts in general (early on he had even considered theatrical performance, and written several critical essays) combined with his profound grasp of classical and Near Eastern archaeology gave him a unique position to study eastern materials in an analytical and multifaceted approach, and his doctoral dissertation, defended on 19 July 1965, passed with the highest recognition “summa cum laude,” and was published four years later. It has since become a classic of Near Eastern, particularly pre-Median Iranian, archaeology and is now available in Persian translation.

He served as a tutorial assistant from 1960 to 1965 at the Anton Moortgat Institute in Berlin, and from 1965 at Munich University. Here he was entrusted with a lectureship in January 1967 and earned an additional professorship at the Institute for Near Eastern Archaeology. On 8 November 1968 he qualified as University Lecturer in Near Eastern Archaeology by submitting a well-received thesis which investigated the style of the Babylonianized reliefs of the vessels dating to around 1000 B.C.E. After spending some time as Visiting Professor at the Oriental Institute in Chicago, Calmeyer was nominated as Deputy Director of the Tehran Branch of the German Archaeological Institute (see DEUTSCHES ARCHÄOLOGISCHES INSTITUT), commencing his work in 1973 (according to ibid., p. 332, this was in 1971 – erroneously, I think).

In his six years of tenure Peter Calmeyer spent much time not only on scientific research but, with characteristic care and exactitude, in fulfilling his duties as representative of the head of the Tehran Branch, and demonstrated great personal commitment as editor of its series of publications. He built up the Institute’s library, regularly visited museums and archaeological sites, discussed various aspects of Iranian art and archaeology with scholars and field experts, and helped in amassing (through the admirably skillful photographer Gruenwald) an excellent photographic archive of archaeological sites and objects. His visits to Persepolis and related sites, usually accompanied by his wife, Dr. Ursula Calmeyer-Seidl, an internationally recognized Near-Eastern archaeologist in her own right, were always fruitful not only for him—his publications show that he usually returned having discovered a new idea or solved an old problem—but also for those who worked at the site, as frequent approving references to his novel views in Shahbazi’s recent book on Persepolis (pp. vi, 69, 102-103, 111, 145, 184, 234-38) bear witness. In addition, Calmeyer actively participated in local and international congresses related to his field and was a principal organizer of the very successful 1976 Munich Congress of Iranian art and archaeology, the proceedings of which were published three years later. Calmeyer’s widely diverse interest, profound knowledge, admiration of books, and amicable manners turned the Tehran Institute into a remarkable center of scholarly activity, where all those working in Iranian antiquities found welcome and access to the most recent literature pertaining to his or her field. When changes resulting from Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 entailed the closing of the Tehran Institute, he and Kleiss stayed behind and transferred the staff and the library to the central institute in Berlin. Nevertheless, Calmeyer continued research on Iran until 1994, though in a greatly restricted manner and hindered by many adversities. Especially important were his constructive editorial suggestions to various authors, which made AMI the richest journal of ancient Iranian studies for fifteen years. He also served as a co-editor of the Reallexicon der Assyriologie und vorderasiatischen Archäologie (henceforth RA) from volumes III to VIII (1966-95) while contributing many valuable entries to it, particularly on Iranian sites and art.

Peter Calmeyer was not a “born” excavator, but when he was young, he participated in the excavations on the Auerberg in Bavaria, and before the Islamic Revolution in those of Bastām in Iranian Azerbaijan. Here, he worked on particular finds of the Urartian period. His investigations in Iran, which won him the reputation of an internationally acknowledged scholar, increasingly focused on questions of the iconography of Ancient East, especially from perspective of the Achaemenid Persia, and benefited from his profound familiarity with the Neo-Assyrian, Greek and Latin texts. His command of classical archaeology proved greatly beneficial to his study and investigations, and later on he also used Pahlavi and New Persian texts (specially the Šāh-nāma) to illuminate Iranian iconographic traditions. All these studies, in which Persepolis always formed the center of gravity, led to a large number of scientific monographs, essays and issues, as well as published lectures, which considerably broadened our knowledge about Achaemenid cultural history and produced fruitful discussions. Most of his works appeared in the form of brilliantly conceived well-documented and lavishly illustrated articles in AMI, but he also contributed several to the proceedings of the Achaemenid workshops which published under the title Achaemenid History (henceforth AchHist.), and a large number of concise but informative entries to specialized encyclopaedias (e.g. in RA, Enciclopaedia archaeologica, and Enciclopedia dell’ arte antica).

His contributions to the EIr. (particularly those on Median and Achaemenid art and architecture) and some of his art-historical reviews (see bibliography) easily rank among the finest pieces of scholarship.

As a university teacher, he successfully educated young Iranian colleagues together with German and other foreign students, thus leading them to their doctorate and greatly promoting international cooperation in the archaeological field, as far as this could be done on a collegial basis. Peter Calmeyer carried out all his research in close cooperation with his wife, Ursula Calmeyer-Seidl, whose contributions to the study of Ziggurats, Urartan art, Elamite rock-reliefs and the Bisotun monuments were exemplary. From 1973 to 1993 Calmeyer enriched each AMI volume with a thorough and analytical bibliography of studies related to the history, art and antiquities of Iran and its cultural sphere. In these paragons of methodical exactitude, he took particular care to cross-reference various works, objects and locations, and not to leave out studies of his Turkish and Iranian colleagues. For students and colleagues alike these bibliographies were - and still are- indispensable indexes to the results of recent publications on Iranian topics. Calmeyer initiated the compilation of an index for AMI 1-27 (1978 to 1993), but untimely death left the plan unrealized.

Barely two months separated Calmeyer’s retirement and his untimely death, whereupon John Curtis voiced the opinion of all by lamenting (p. 193) that “archaeology has been robbed of a man still in the prime of life who had so much still to offer.” Other fields of Iranian studies also felt the poorer by this loss. Mary Boyce intimated this best when she described (p. 155 n. 1) her contribution to Calmeyer’s memorial volume as a token of “respect and affection” offered “with gratitude for the unfailing kindness and helpfulness which he, a distinguished archaeologist, showed to one working in neighbouring fields.” The tragic event in fact ushered the end of a remarkably fruitful phase in the history of the German Archaeological Institute. For almost immediately the Oriental section of the German Archaeological Institute was re-structured and the Tehran Branch merged into a newly founded Eurasian Department (hence the changing of the Institute’s yearly publication to Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran und Turan).

A gentleman through and through and a multilingual humanist of inexhaustible enthusiasm, Peter Calmeyer was at home among different peoples and appreciative of various disciplines and cultures. These qualities earned him a prominent and highly valued position in the scholarly world, unlikely to be matched by any one individual.



Reinhard Dittmann et al., eds., Variatio Delectat. Iran und der Westen. Gedenkschrift für Peter Calmeyer, Alter Orient und Altes Testament (AOAT) 272, Münster in Westfalen, Germany, 2000, contains thirty-four articles dedicated to the memory of Peter Calmeyer (Boyce’s contribution covers pp. 155-67 and Curtis’ pp. 193-215), admirably demonstrating the various fields in which he was active and influential. The introductory tributes by Barthel Hrouda (“Peter Calmeyer,” ibid., pp. VII-XI) and Reinhard Dittmann, Ulrike Löw, and Sabine Thürwächter (“Zum Geleit,” ibid., pp. XIII-XIV) are quite informative. A. Shapur Shahbazi, The Authoritative Guide to Persepolis, Tehran, 2004.

A complete list (thematically arranged) of Peter Calmeyer’s publications was given by Ursula Seidl, “Bibliographie Peter Calmeyer,” AMI N.S. 28, 1995-96, pp. 3-10.

Calmeyer’s valuable “Archäologische Bibliographie” series, which appeared in AMI N.S. 7, 1974, pp. 251-58; 8, 1975, pp. 293-305; 9, 1976, pp. 313-24; 10, 1977, pp. 345-57; 11, 1978, pp. 215-28; 12, 1979, pp. 415-26; 13, 1980, pp. 207-20; 14, 1981, pp. 209-19; 15, 1982, pp. 393-403; 16, 1983, pp. 395-412; 17, 1984, pp. 335-46; 18, 1985, pp. 259-70; 19, 1986, pp. 339-53; 20, 1987, 373-86; 21, 1988, pp. 261-75; 22, 1989, pp. 349-60; 23, 1990, pp. 325-41; 24, 1991, pp. 287-301; 25, 1992, pp. 365-77; 26, 1993, pp. 287-98; 27, 1993, pp. 349-57.

Of his numerous publications, those most relevant to Iranian fields are, in chronological order, as follows: Altiranische Bronzen der Sammlung Bröckelschen, Berlin, 1964;"Datierbare Bronzen aus Luristan und Kirmanshah,” Ph.D. diss., Freie Universität Berlin, 1965 (published under the same title in Berlin, 1969 (Untersuchungen zur Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 5); tr. into Persian as Mafraḡhā-ye qābel-e tāriḵgozāri-e Lorestān wa Kermānšāh by Moḥammad ʿĀṣemi, Tehran, 1998.

“Eine westiranische Bronzewerkstatt des 10./9. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. zwischen Zalu Ab und dem Gebiet der Kakavand,” BJV 5, 1965, pp. 1-65; 6, 1966, pp. 55-70.

Reliefbronzen im babylonischen Stil. Eine westiranische Werkstatt des 10. Jahrhunderts, Abh. d. Bayer. Ak. d. Wiss., Phil.-hist. Kl., N.S. 73, 1973.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. I. Herrscher über Schützfiguren,” AMI N.S. 6, 1973, pp. 135-52, Pls. 30-40.

Review of Gerold Walser’s Die Völkerschaften auf den Reliefs von Persepolis, Berlin, 1966, in ZDMG, 123, 1973, pp. 174-79.

Review of Walther Hinz, Altiranische Funde und Forschungen, Berlin, 1969, in ZfA 63, 1973, pp. 134-37.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. II. Der leere Wagen,” AMI N.S. 7, 1974, pp. 49-77, Pls. 10-17.

“Zu einigen vernachlässigten Aspekten medischer Kunst,” in Proceedings of the 2nd Annual Symposium of Archaeological Research in Iran 1973, Tehran, 1974, pp. 111-27.

“Barsombündel im 8. und 7. Jahrhundert v. Chr,” in Wandlungen. Studien zur antiken und neueren Kunst Ernst Homann-Wedeking gewidmet, Waldsassen in Bayern, Germany, 1975, pp. 11-15.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. III. Felsgräber,” AMI N.S. 8, 1975, pp. 99-113; 9, 1976; Nachträge und Korrekturen: AMI 9, 1976, p. 45.

“The Subject of the Achaemenid Tomb-Reliefs,” in Proceedings of the 3rd Annual Symposium of Archaeological Research in Iran 1974, Tehran, 1975, pp. 233-42.

“Das unvollendete achaimenidische Felsgrab bei Persepolis,” AMI N.S. 8, pp.1975, pp. 91-98.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. IV. Persönliche Krone und Diadem,” AMI N.S. 9, 1976, pp. 45-63.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive.V. Synarchie,” AMI N.S. 9, 1976, pp. 63-95; 10, 1977, pp. 191-95.

“Some of the Oldest ‘Lurestan Bronzes’,” in Proceedings of the 4th Annual Symposium of Archaeological Research in Iran 1975, Tehran, 1976, pp. 368-79.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. VI. Toxotai,” AMI N.S. 12, pp. 1979, pp. 303-13.

“Vom Reisehut zur Kaiserkrone. B. Stand der archäologischen Forschung zu den iranischen Kronen,” AMI N.S. 10, 1977, pp. 168-90.

“Fortuna - Tyche – Khvarenah,” Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologisches Instituts 94, 1979, pp. 347-65.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. VII. Achsnägel in Form von Betenden,” AMI N.S. 13, 1980, pp. 99-111.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. VIII. Die ‘statistische Landkarte’ des Perserreiches,” AMI N.S. 15, 1982, pp. 105-87, Pls. 16-24; 16, 1983, pp. 141-222.

Nachträge und Korrekturen,” AMI N.S. 20/8, 1987, pp. 129-46.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. IX. Die Verbreitung westiranischen Zaumzeugs im achaimenidischen Reich,” AMI N.S. 18, 1985, pp. 125-44.

Review of A. Farkas, Achaemenid Sculpture (Istanbul, 1974), in ZfA 67, 1977, pp. 299-308.

“Das Grabrelief von Ravansar,” AMI N.S. 11, 1978, pp. 73-85.

Review of David Stronach’s Pasargadae (Oxford 1978) in ZfA 70, 1978, pp. 297-307.

“Textual Sources for the Interpretation of Archaemenian Palace Decorations,” Iran 18, 1980, pp. 55-63.

“Figürliche Fragmente aus Pasargadae nach Zeichnungen E. Herzfelds,” AMI N.S. 14, 1981, pp. 27-44; Pls. 4-6.

“Zur bedingten Göttlichkeit des Grosskönigs,” AMI N.S. 14, 1981, pp. 55-60.

“The Persian King in the Lion’s Den,” Iraq 47, 1983, pp. 138-39.

Review of M. C. Toot’s King and Kingship in Achaemenid Art (Acta Iranica 19), 1979, in OLZ 78, 1983, cols. 167-73.

“Das Zeichen der Herrschaft ohne Šamaš wird es nicht gegeben haben,” AMI N.S. 17, 1984, pp. 135-53.

“Eine edlere Frau als sie habe ich nie gesehen, I” in Papers in Honour of Mary Boyce (Acta Iranica 24), 1985, pp. 43-49.

“Dareios in Bagastana und Xerxes in Persepolis: Zur parataktischen Komposision achaimenidischer Herrscherdarstellung,” Visible Religion. Annual of Religious Iconography 4-5, 1985-86, pp. 76-95.

“Art in Iran ii. Median art and architecture,” EIr., II, 1986, pp. 565-69. “Art in Iran iii. Achaemenian art and architecture,” EIr., II, 1986, pp. 569-80.

“Mesopotamien und Iran im II. und I. Jahrtausend,” in H. J. Nissen and J. Renger, eds., Mesopotamien und seine Nachbaren. Politische und kulturelle Weckselbeziehungen im alten Vorderasien vom 4. bis 1. Jahrtausend v. Chr., 2nd rev. ed., Berlin, 1987, pp. 339-48; Pls. XXXIV-XLVIII.

“Greek Historiography and Achaemenid Reliefs,” AchHist 2, 1987, pp. 11-26.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. X. Die elamisch-persische Tracht,” AMI N.S. 21, 1988, pp. 27-51, Pls. 11-29.

“Der ‘Apollon’ des Dareios,” AMI N.S. 22, 1989, pp. 125-30.

“Zur Rechtfertigung einiger grossköniglicher Inschriften und Darstellungen. Die Yaunā,” in H. Koch and D. N. MacKenzie eds., Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte der Achämenidenzeit und ihr Fortleben (AMI Erg. Bd. X), Berlin, 1983, pp. 153-67.

“Aufreihung - Duplik - Kopie – Umbildung,” AchHist 3, 1988, pp. 101-19.

“Das Datum der Gründungsinschrift vom Apadana und die Krone des ältesten ‘Bogenschützen’,” Revue des études anciennes 41, 1989, pp. 51-59.

“Beobachtungen an der Silbervase aus Persepolis,” Iranica Antiqua 24, 1989, pp. 79-85.

“Belts. I. In ancient Iran,” EIr., IV, 1989, pp. 130-32.

“Die roten Schuhe AMI N.S. 22, 1989, p. 133, color Pl. 1. “Das Persepolis der Spätzeit,” AchHist 4, 1990, pp. 7-36.

“Madjdabad. Zur Datierung von Steinbruch-Arbeiten um Persepolis,” AMI 23, 1990, pp. 85-190.

“Die sogenannte fünfte Satrapie und die achaimenidischen Dokumente,” Transeuphratène 3, 1990, pp. 109-129, Pls. 8-10.

“Ägyptischer Stil und reichsachaimenidische Inhalte aus dem Sockel der Dareios-Statue aus Susa/Heliopolis,” AchHist 6, 1991, pp. 285-303.

“Elam. Die altorientalische Kunst im Reich der Achameniden,” in B. Hrouda ed., Der Alte Orient. Geschichte und Kultur des alten Vorderasien, 1991, pp. 410-41.

“Zur Genese altiranischer Motive. XI. ‘Eingewebte Bildchen’ von Städten,” AMI N.S. 25, 1992, pp. 95-124, Pls. 19/2-28.

“Zur Darstellung von Standesunterschieden in Persepolis,” AMI N.S. 24, 1991, pp. 35-51, Pls. 11-18.

“Die Gefässe aus den Gabenbringer-Reliefs in Persepolis,” AMI N.S. 26, 1993, pp. 147-60, Pls. 43-50.

“Crown. I. In the Median and Achaemenid Periods,” EIr., VI, 1993, pp. 407-08.

“Babylonische und assyrische Elemente in der achaimenidischen Kunst,” AchHist 8, 1994, pp. 131-47.

Review of O. W. Muscarella’s Bronze and Iron. Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1988, in ZfA 85, 1995, pp. 155-62.

“Metamorphosen iranischer Denkmäler,” AMI N.S. 27, 1994, pp. 1-27, Pls. 1-5.

“Drei Arten persepolitanischer Rundplastik,” AMI N.S. 28, 1995-96, pp. 295-303, Pls. 20-24; Polish tr. Metamorfozy irénskie, Poznań, 1997.

“Middle Babylonian Art and Contemporary Iran,” in J. Curtis, ed., Later Mesopotamia and Iran: Tribes and Empires 1600-539 BC, London, 1995, pp. 33-45; Pls. 24-34.

“Achaimenidische Möbel und ‘Kussû šar šarrani’,” in G. Herrmann, ed., The Furniture of Western Asia, Ancient and Traditional, Mainz, Germany, 1996, pp. 223-31, Pls. 71-77.

“Die Landschaft Kambadēnē,” in W. Kleiss and P. Calmeyer, eds., Bisutun. Ausgrabungen und Forschungen in den Jahren 1963-1967, Tehraner Forschungen VIII, Berlin, 1996, pp. 13-14.

(Together with M. Roaf and R. Schmitt), Die Reliefs der Gräber V und VI in Persepolis, Iranische Denkmäler 14 (forthcoming).


March 24, 2005

(W. Kleiss and A. Shapur Shahbazi)

Originally Published: July 20, 2005

Last Updated: July 20, 2005