DEUTSCHESARCHÄOLOGISCHES INSTITUT (D.A.I.), research institution administered by the German foreign ministry, with a number of branches, including the Abteilung Teheran in Persia. The central headquarters and presidential office are located in Berlin, where normally a general meeting of the board of directors of the entire institute is held once a year.

The D.A.I. originated as a royal Prussian institute in Rome in 1829 and was converted to a national institution in 1874. Its foreign branches include those of Rome, Athens (since 1874), Istanbul and Cairo (since 1929), Madrid (since 1943), Baghdad (since 1956), and Tehran (since 1961), and there are also three scholarly commissions in Germany itself. Some foreign branches also administer smaller stations, for example, the Ankara station of the Istanbul branch; other stations, like those in Damascus and Ṣanʿāʾ, are administered directly by the president of the D.A.I.

Like all branches of the Institute, the Abteilung Teheran has a director (with the title Erster Direktor and Professor at the D.A.I.) and a deputy (with the title Wissenschaftlicher Direktor). The director is a voting member of the board of the D.A.I. The Abteilung Teheran has two scientific advisers, at present Hubertus von Gall (classical archeology) and Dietrich Huff (architectural studies).

In the 1930s the D.A.I. supported a forerunner of the Abteilung Teheran, a station in Isfahan directed by Wilhelm Eilers; its work was brought to a halt in 1941 after the outbreak of World War II. Between 1929 and 1938 Ernst Herzfeld published nine volumes of Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran under the sponsorship of the Isfahan station; a new annual series under the same title began publication in 1968 under the sponsorship of the Abteilung Teheran. Herzfeld also issued four fascicles of the large-format Iranischen Denkmäler, with illustrations of architectural, archeological, and epigraphic monuments; this series was reinstated by the Abteilung Teheran in 1975, with publication of fascicle 5, and a total of thirteen fascicles had appeared by 1994. Herzfeld, Friedrich Sarre, Karl Bergner, Ernst Kühnel, Walther Hinz, Eilers, Kurt Erdmann, and their colleagues laid the scholarly foundation for German participation in archeological research in Persia before and between the two world wars, especially the German excavations at Persepolis before 1317 Š./1938.

As a continuation of this tradition, the Abteilung Teheran was established in 1961 after the initiation of excavations at Taḵt-e Solaymān by Hans Henning von der Osten and Rudolf Naumann in 1959. Von der Osten, a Near Eastern archeologist, was named the first director, and after his premature death in the same year Heinz Luschey, a classical archeologist by training, succeeded him, serving until 1971, with Wolfram Kleiss as deputy director from 1967. In 1971 Kleiss became director and Peter Calmeyer deputy director.

The activity of the Abteilung Teheran encompasses the entire territory of the Islamic Republic of Persia from prehistory to the 19th century, including the medieval Christians of Azerbaijan. In addition to Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Iran and Iranische Denkmäler, the branch publishes the Teheraner Forschungen, the Ergänzungsbände of the Archäo-logische Mitteilungen, and Führer zu Archäolo-gischen Plätzen in Iran, all issued at irregular intervals.

Although the excavations of the Sasanian and Mongol periods at Taḵt-e Solaymān were directed from the Abteilung Istanbul (under Naumann, its first director) until 1354 Š./1975, in 1355 Š./1976 they were transferred to the Abteilung Teheran, with Huff as field director. In 1342-46 Š./1963-67 Luschey conducted archeological explorations at Bīsotūn, which yielded remains ranging from the prehistoric era to the reign of the Mongols. Excavations were also conducted, from 1347 Š./1968 to 1357 Š./1978, in the Urartian fortress and settlement of Bastām/Rusa-i-URU.TUR, discovered by Kleiss in 1346 Š./1967. At Fīrūzābād Huff was able to combine excavation and architectural research with restoration projects at various Sasanian monuments before 1357 Š./1978.

Owing to political developments in the Near East, particularly the Islamic Revolution in Persia in 1357 Š./1978, archeological activities at all these sites were interrupted, and so far it has not been possible to resume work. In addition, before 1357 Š./1978 members of the Abteilung Teheran had no problem obtaining access to work on excavated objects in the Iran Bastan Museum, the archeological museum in Tehran, but since then it has become increasingly difficult.

The general surveys conducted between 1346 Š./1967 and 1357 Š./1978, which had provided a partial topographic map of Azerbaijan, especially the surveys of remains from the Urartian period, came to a virtual end in 1358 Š./1979, for they could not be continued in insecure regions of the country.

In 1362 Š./1983 the members of the Abteilung Teheran were transferred from Tehran to Berlin, followed in 1364 Š./1985 by the director, a temporary abandonment of a German archeological presence in Persia. At headquarters in Berlin the members of the Baghdad and Teheran branches, both closed in the Near East but still independent, are housed together with a single library, into which the former library of the Isfahan station has now been incorporated. In the D.A.I. quarters in Tehran there is a larger reference library, which is at the disposal of foreign scholars for consultation. The photographic archive is now located in Berlin.

Since 1358 Š./1979 work in Persia has continued in month-long excursions into the country from the base at the D.A.I. quarters in Tehran. It includes exploration of old caravan routes and systematic photographing of caravansaries, road stations, and old bridges and dams; photographing of Zoroastrian cult buildings; and recording of rock reliefs of all periods and of Qajar frescos. Of course, such investigations have been limited to those parts of the country that were not inaccessible to foreigners because of war or similar conditions. During these surveys of the old travel routes numerous prehistoric and historic sites have been observed, and topographic knowledge of the country has thus been considerably enhanced.

The members of the Abteilung Teheran also continue to study the art of relief carving in Persia, with emphasis on Persepolis and on Sasanian and Qajar rock reliefs. They are also revising the topographic map of prehistoric Persia. One focus of research is constructions for controlling the flow of water, from the Achaemenid to the Safavid period, as well as Islamic secular architecture in general. The corpus of finds from the survey, especially the ceramics, represents another essential problem for study.

As at present no excavation is possible in Persia, intensive work on the preparation and publication of the finds from excavations before the Islamic Revolution of 1357-58 Š./1979 is going forward. In recent years the members have also been able to travel to countries bordering on Persia, particularly the Caucasus and the southern states of the former U.S.S.R., in order to visit archeological sites and museums that offer comparative objects of interest in the study of Persian archeology and associated disciplines.

The members of the Abteilung Teheran supplement their publication activity by giving university courses and lectures, conducting tours, and participating in regional and superregional congresses and special scientific meetings. In the D.A.I. buildings in Tehran the guestrooms are available to traveling foreign scholars.

(Wolfram Kleiss)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 22, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 331-333