Partly because of the long tradition of philological studies in France which produced a succession of outstanding scholars of international repute and partly because of close historical and institutional connections through the two Délégations Archéologiques Françaises established in Persia and Afghanistan, the French contribution to pre-Islamic Iranian studies, both in philological studies and archeology, has been considerable. This article traces the development of these academic contacts from their inception in the 18th century to the present by a brief chronological examination of the achievements of individual scholars in both fields, many of whom have separate entries of their own providing more detailed information. Furthermore, one of the main traits of French scholarship in the past two centuries has been the contribution made to Iranian studies, particularly in philological, historical and religious domains, by scholars with a wide range of interests of which Iranian studies form only a part. A chronological rather than a thematic approach enables us to delineate their individual contributions more clearly.

Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron (q.v.; 1731-1805) is generally regarded as a pioneer of pre-Islamic Persian studies who succeeded in collecting 180 manuscripts, including copies of the Avesta and samples of most Indian languages during his stay in India. These he deposited at the Bibliothèque du Roi (the future Bibliothèque nationale), thus providing source material for future research.

The translation of the Avesta, completed by Anquetil-Duperron in 1760, was marred by insufficient knowledge of Sanskrit and comparative philology. It was left to Eugène Burnouf (q.v.; 1801-52), the founder of Iranian linguistics, to establish the basis of the scientific study of the Avesta. He wrote a Commentaire sur le Yaçna (2 vols., Paris, 1833-35), based on four manuscripts of the Avesta, the translation of the Pahlavi commentary by Anquetil du Perron (Zend-Avesta, Paris, 1771), and the unedited Sanskrit version of Neriosengh of the same commentary. He was also the first to make use of the Vedic language for philological comparison. He showed that Old Persian is closely related to Avestan and established the place of Old Iranian within comparative grammar.

In his short life, James Darmesteter (q.v.; 1849-94) achieved much both in Zoroastrian studies and Iranian philology. His prize-winning monograph on the Aməša Spəntas (q.v.), Haurvatât et Ameretât: essai sur la mythologie de l’Avesta (Paris, 1875; Gignoux, 1994, pp. 27-40) which was also his graduation thesis as élève diplômé de l’École des hautes études,describes the material attributes of this pair of divinities, whose patronage is related to water and plants, and the relation to their abstract values: health and immortality, in connection with Indo-Iranian mythology. Darmesteter also showed that the seven Aməša Spəntas correspond to the seven creations of Ahura Mazda. In a wider ranging work for which he received the degree of docteur ès lettres, Ohrmazd et Ahriman: leurs origines et leur histoire (Paris, 1877), he applied the comparative methodology used in the history of languages to the history of religion, and reconstructed the Indo-Iranian past of the Mazdean concept of deity. He followed the naturalistic conception of the Indo-Iranian religion, as elaborated in the 19th century and propounded in its most extreme form by Max Müller, and saw the evolution from it to Mazdaism in terms of an uninterrupted progress (Lazard, 1994, pp. 7-8, 16-17).

In the field of Iranian philology, Darmesteter made important contributions to Pahlavi studies and lexicography. His The Zend Avesta appeared in the famous Sacred Books of the East Series edited by Müller (2 vols, Oxford, 1880-83, many reprints). His magnum opus, Études iraniennes (2 vols., Paris, 1883, repr. 1971), surveys the entire history of the Persian language, from the Old Persian of the Achaemenid inscriptions to Modern Persian, a topic to which the contemporary French scholar, Gilbert Lazard, has also brought fresh insights.

Darmesteter’s pioneering work on dialects in relation to philological studies in general is also noteworthy. He established the position of Pashto among Indo-Iranian languages, thanks to the texts collected in Afghanistan, which he published in his massive Chants populaires des Afghans (2 vols, Paris, 1888-90; repr. Amsterdam, 1970). Another major achievement was his French translation of the Avesta, Le Zend-Avesta (Avesta, tr. Darmesteter), where he showed that the hitherto seemingly conflicting approaches of comparative linguistics using Vedic Sanskrit, on the one hand, and, on the other, relying on the tradition of Pahlavi commentaries, could be used as complementary tools and pointed out that, “Vedas and traditions cannot lead to contradictory results if one examines them according to their respective relevance. The Vedas must be looked at for the oldest part of Avestan ideas, the tradition for their present,” (quoted in Eng. tr. by Lazard, 1994, p. 15 from Darmesteter, Études sur l’Avesta: observations sur le Vendidad, Paris, 1883, p. 55; repr. from “Observations sur le Vendidad” JA 7/17, 1881, pp. 435-514).

French archeological excavations in Persia began with Marcel-Auguste Dieulafoy (q.v.; 1844-1920), a government civil engineer, whose initial interest in medieval architecture and archeology and in particular the origin of domes and vaults had led him to travel to Persia with his famous wife, Jane Henriette Magre Dieulafoy (q.v.; 1851-1916). They made two expeditions (1881-82 and 1884-86). The first led them from Tehran to Shiraz, via Persepolis and Susa. In the latter site, explored thirty years earlier by William Kennett Loftus, Dieulafoy discovered the famous friezes of the archers and lions (now in the Louvre) and the capital with protoma of addorsed bulls, revealing the faience work of the Achaemenids. He published the lavishly illustrated L’Art antique de la Perse: Achéménides, Parthes, Sassanides (5 vols, Paris, 1884-89) and L’acropole de Suse d’après les fouilles exécutées en 1884, 1885, 1886, sous les auspices du Musée du Louvre (Paris, 1893). Jane Dieulafoy also wrote several books including La Perse, la Chaldée, la Susiane, relation de voyage (Paris, 1887) and A Suse: journal des fouilles, 1884-1886 (Paris, 1888). A new edition of the two books in three volumes was published in Paris in 1989. The photographs and illustrations in the works of both Dieulafoys provide valuable documentary evidence for contemporary life in the 19th century as well as for pre-Islamic monuments in view of what has since been damaged or lost (e.g. their photograph of the Ayvān-e Kesrā (q.v.), before the irreparable damages by the floods of 1888).

The many contributions of Jacques de Morgan (q.v.; 1857-1924), engineer, geologist, archeologist, and the first director of the French Archeological Delegation in Persia (see DÉLÉGATIONS ARCHÉOLOGIQUES FRANÇAISES) have been set out in detail in his individual entry, and the range of his interests, from geological and archeological studies to Iranian dialects and Mandaean texts is manifested in his monumental Mission scientifique en Perse (5 parts comprising 10 vols, Paris, 1894-1905). His fieldwork in France, Egypt and the Caucasus as well as in Persia and his multidisciplinary approach as a historian and geologist is apparent in another massive contribution, La préhistoire orientale (3 vols., Paris, 1925-27), a major work of synthesis defining his notions on comparative archeology. More controversially, he pioneered the stratigraphic method on the Acropolis tell in Susa. This method, admirably suited to prehistoric sites, becomes problematic when applied ruthlessly regardless of the archeological context, as it was by de Morgan, to a historic site like Susa, radically reshaping it by removing vast quantities of soil. For although many artifacts including masterpieces from the Babylonian and Elamite civilization were found, the architectural remains at Susa, i.e. the provenience of these artifacts, were destroyed forever (Amiet, EIr VII/2, pp. 176-77). De Morgan resigned in 1912, having been unjustly accused of financial mismanagement and laxity. The excavations in Susa were continued by Father Vincent Scheil and Robert de Mecquenem who jointly directed the mission. From 1914 to 1920 the excavations were halted because of the War.

Jean Vincent Scheil (1858-1940), an Assyriologist, who was director of studies at the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE), was the first to identify the Elamite language as non-Semitic. He also excavated the stele containing the code of laws of Hammurabi at Susa in the winter of 1901-2 and transcribed them (J. V. Scheil, “Textes élamites-sémitiques,” in the series Mémoires de la Délégation en Perse (vols. II, IV, VI, X, 1902-19). His colleague, Robert de Mecquenem (1877-1957), directed the French Mission at Susa from 1912 to 1914 and from 1920 to 1947, although the actual excavations terminated in 1938. He focused exclusively on Susiana and published several articles on Elamite culture.

In a long and eventful career, the Ukranian-born Roman Ghirshman (q.v., 1895-1979), carried out major archeological work in many sites in Persia and Afghanistan. As director of the French Archeological Mission in Persia from 1946, he was commissioned by the Louvre Museum to survey the prehistoric sites of the Iranian plateau. He excavated at Tepe Gīān near Nehāvand and Tepe Sīalk, near Kāšān. In 1936 he discovered a ziggurat at Čoḡā Zanbīl (q.v.; Gran-Aymerich, p. 412). He was then invited by Joseph Hackin to excavate the prehistoric site of Nād-e ʿAlī in Afghanistan and became Director of the Délégation Archéologique Française in Afghanistan from 1941. In 1946 he directed two missions in Persia, and through stratigraphic examination of the vast site at Susa he studied the vestiges of succeeding civilizations at the site, paying attention to the legacy of later epochs which had hitherto been ignored by archeologists, and charting the history of the site through fifteen centuries up to the Mongol invasion (Amiet, p. 144). Another of his important excavations was that of the Bīšāpūr (q.v.) site, excavated intermittently between 1935 and 1941. As well as publishing reports of his many excavations (Bio-Bibliographies de 134 savants, pp. 188-201) and co-editing the journal Iranica Antiqua with Louis Vanden Berghe, Ghirshman also wrote important general guides to Iranian history including L’Iran des origines à l’Islam, (Paris, 1951), which was translated into Persian and English and was widely read, and the two more detailed works on Iranian arts and culture, Iran: Parthes et sassanides (Paris, 1962) and Perse: Proto-iraniens. Mèdes. Achéménides (Paris, 1963). The outstanding exhibition of Iranian art, entitled Sept mille ans d’art en Iran, held at the Petit Palais in Paris (1961-62), owed much to his administrative and organizing abilities.

André Godard (q.v. 1881-1965), art historian, architect, and restorer of historical and ancient monuments in Persia, was the Director of the Archaeological Services of Iran from 1928 to 1953, and 1956 to 1960. He was instrumental in the formation of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Tehran (q.v.) and was its dean until 1949. His contributions to pre-Islamic studies include his work in the design and founding of Mūza-ye Īrān-e bāstān, (the Museum of Antiquities in Tehran; Marefat, pp. 105-8 ) and his work as a regular contributor and editor of the bilingual Athār-é Īrān: Annales du Service Archéologique de l’Iran (4 vols, 1936-49). He wrote a pioneering monograph on Les bronzes du Luristan (Paris, 1931), and in collaboration with his wife, Mme.Yedda A. Godard, he prepared the catalogue of the collection of bronzes by E. Graeffe (Bronzes du Luristan, Paris, 1951). His last book, L’art de l’Iran (1962), is a compendium of his numerous works on Iranian architecture, sculpture, jewelry, and numismatics.

Both Antoine Meillet (1866-1936), and his successor Émile Benveniste (q.v.; 1902-76), were prodigious in the range of their many outstanding scholarly works (for bibliography of Meillet’s works see Benveniste, 1937, pp. 43-68). Meillet was first interested in Armenian and in his Esquisse d’une grammaire comparée de l’arménien classique (Vienna, 1903; 2nd ed. with corrections by Louis Mariès and Benveniste, Vienna, 1936), he studied the structure of the language and its historical origins. Since Armenian contains many Parthian loan-words, Meillet also published several articles in this connection including, “De l’influence parthe sur la langue arménienne” (Revue des études arméniennes 1, 1920, pp. 9-14) and several others in the Mémoires de la Société de linguistique (10-18, 1897-1914). Meillet’s Grammaire du vieux-perse (Paris, 1915), which was thoroughly revised and enlarged by Benveniste in a new edition (Paris, 1931) was the first scientific grammar of Old Persian, based on the royal inscriptions published by Franz Heinrich Weissbach in 1911. His famous Trois conférences sur les Gâthâs de l’Avesta (Paris, 1925) as well as his articles on the Avestan text (“Observations critiques sur le texte de l’Avesta,” JA, 1917, pp. 183-214; “Sur le texte de l’Avesta,” JA, 1920, pp. 187-202) attest to his ability to distinguish the Gathic dialect from the Young Avestan. He concluded that for the linguist, as well as the historian of the Zoroastrian religion, a thorough reappraisal of the Avestan text must precede its use as scholarly evidence (JA, 1917, p. 214). But Meillet was, above all, like his great teacher Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), a pioneer in the field of general linguistics (Vendryes, pp. 5-6, 14-16). In 1908 he published his Les dialectes indo-européens (2nd. ed., with new introduction, 1922) and in 1921, Linguistique historique et linguistique générale (2nd. ed., 1926) and the invaluable encyclopædia Les langues du monde which he edited with Marcel Cohen (2 vols, Paris, 1924). Using his remarkable knowledge of different groups of languages (including the Slavic and Germanic languages, on which he also wrote important monographs), these works show his mastery in combining comparative philology with linguistics and supporting innovative observations on the interconnections between languages by detailed knowledge of each language discussed. Among the many students who attended his courses in Paris, were the famous scholar Vladimir Minorsky (1877-1966), the scholar of oral poetry and epic Milman Parry, and the influential Danish language theorist Louis Hjelmslev (Vendryes, pp. 35-36).

On Meillet’s advice, his student and colleague, Robert Gauthiot (1876-1916), devoted himself from 1910 until his untimely death during World War I (1916) to the study of the Sogdian Buddhist texts. These were discovered at Turfan and Dunhuang and brought to Paris by the Pelliot mission (Essai de grammaire sogdienne I: Phonétique, Paris, 1914-23) and published after Gauthiot’s death by Meillet; the second volume, Morphologie, syntaxe et glossaire, was edited and greatly expanded by Benveniste (Paris, 1929). As Meillet, himself a firm believer in comparative methods (Vendryes, pp. 13-14), pointed out in his obituary of Gauthiot, he was a born comparative linguist (“un comparatiste né”) who, although immersed in detailed research in historical linguistics, never lost sight of its relevance to the progress of general linguistics (Meillet, 1916, p. 130).

A prolific writer, Georges Dumézil (1898-1986) has left about sixty books (Bellier, pp. 241-43). Among them, the series of four books Jupiter Mars Quirinus (Jupiter Mars Quirinus, 1941; Naissance de Rome,Jupiter Mars Quirinus II, 1944; Naissance d’Archanges: essai sur la formation de la théologie zoroastrienne, Jupiter Mars Quirinus III, 1945; Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus IV, 1948, all published in Paris) constitute the first elaboration of his famous theory of the tripartite or trifunctional structure of the Indo-European society, culminating in the series of books entitled Mythe et épopée (3 vols., Paris, 1968-73). His views remain a topic of much debate and analysis among scholars of comparative mythology worldwide (for a resumé of different theories, see Baldick, pp. 29-39). However, as a highly gifted linguist well acquainted with both ancient and modern languages, Dumézil did not limit his research to comparative religion, and published invaluable studies in the Caucasian field on the Oubykh language and on Ossetic literature (Légendes sur les Nartes, Paris, 1930; Le Livre des Héros, Paris, 1965; Romans de Scythie et d’alentour, Paris, 1978). One of his last books, Les Dieux souverains des Indo-Européens (Paris, 1977) could be considered as a summing up of his life long research on the development of the tripartite theory.

Like that of his teacher and predecessor, Antoine Meillet, the influence of Émile Benveniste (q.v.; 1902-76) on general linguistics as well as Iranian studies has been profound and seminal. As his achievements in different fields have been succinctly presented under his entry by Gilbert Lazard, only a brief summary of his contributions to the study of Iranian philology, comparative grammar of Indo-European languages, and general linguistics will be given here.

Iranian philology: Old Persian. As already mentioned, Benveniste made a considerable contribution to the revisions in the 2nd edition of Grammaire du vieux-perse (Paris, 1931; O. Szemerényi, E. Benveniste aujourd’hui, vol.1, Paris, 1984, p. 167). Later he also published several articles on the topic (Moïnfar, pp. ix-liii).

Avestan. In his Les Infinitifs avestiques (Paris, 1935), Benveniste brought some order into the many forms classified by Christian Bartholomae (q.v.; 1855-1925) as infinitives. He also wrote a number of articles on grammatical or etymological aspects of Avestan terms.

Sogdian. The discoveries at Turfan and Dunhuang and the texts brought back to Paris by the Pelliot mission provided Benveniste with a new rich field of research to which he made invaluable contributions. As pointed above, he completed the work left by Gauthiot’s untimely death in the war. He went on to publish editions of Sogdian manuscripts in the Pelliot collection until the entire corpus of the Paris documents became available to the public.

Middle Iranian. Compared to his work on Sogdian, Benveniste’s contributions to Parthian and Middle Persian studies were small, particularly as the newly discovered Manichean texts in the Berlin and St. Petersburg collections were not easily accessible. He did, however, contribute to Pahlavi prosody, demonstrating the syllabic principles governing its versification system (“Le texte de Drakht asūṟīg et la versification pehlevie,” JA 217, 1930, pp. 193-225; “LeMémorial de Zarēr. Poème pehlevi mazdéen,” JA 220, 1932, pp. 245-93). His Titres et noms propres en iranien ancien (Paris, 1966) was a pioneering study on the problems of titles and onomastics, which was later studied by Philippe Gignoux, Rika Gyselen, and Rüdiger Schmitt.

Comparative grammar of Indo-European languages: In this vast field Benveniste’s major contributions were the Origines de la formation des noms en indo-européen (Paris, 1935), Hittite et indo-européen (Paris, 1962), and Le vocabulaire des institutions indo-européennes (2 vols., Paris, 1969, tr. Elizabeth Palmer as Indo-European Language and society, London, 1973). These works had a strong international impact not only on the study of general linguistics, but also on the general notions of culture and society and theories of structuralism which were becoming prevalent in the 1970s.

General linguistics: In the tradition founded by Saussure, Benveniste addressed many difficult theoretical problems with a combination of bold imagination and clarity. The nature of the linguistic sign, the taxonomy of languages, the relation of language to society, and conditions for “conversion of language into discourse” are all grappled with in his collection of articles, Problèmes de linguistique générale (2 vols., Paris, 1966), which was translated into several European languages and has become a classic of modern linguistics.

Finally, in the context of history of religions, Benveniste delivered a series of four lectures in the Ratanbai Katrak Foundation series later published as The Persian Religion According to the Chief Greek Texts (Paris, 1929). His conclusion in the book that “neither Greeks, Syrians nor Armenians knew anything of the Avestic Zoroaster nor of his teaching as expressed in the Gâthâs. This fact must be firmly established” (p. 119) probably remains valid. His Les Mages dans l’ancien Iran (Paris, 1938) is a study of the word maga in all its uses and derivatives. His Vṛtra et Vṛθragna (in collaboration with Louis Renou, Paris, 1934), is a study of comparative Indo-Iranian religion, in which the Dumézilian tripartite system is used approvingly.

Jean Pierre de Menasce, O.P., (1902-73), was the first holder of the chair of the Religions of Ancient Iran, established at the École pratique des hautes études in 1948. A year earlier, he delivered four lectures on the Dēnkard (q.v.) in the Ratanbai Katrak Foundation; these were later expanded and published in 1958, under the title Une encyclopédie mazdéenne: le Dēnkart. The book shows great acuity in analyzing the different parts of this monumental 10th century Pahlavi summation of Zoroastrian religion, bringing out its philosophical and theological dimensions, as well as the ethical and apologetical aspects. His second major works was a translation of the Škand gumānīk vičār (Frieburg, 1945), a polemical Pazand-Pahlavi text furnished with his erudite notes, demonstrating a profound knowledge of Christian and Islamic philosophy. His third major book, Le Troisième Livre du Dēnkart (Travaux de l’Institut d’études iraniennes 5, Paris, 1973), appeared shortly after his death. He was also interested in Sasanian epigraphy, on which he published several articles and a portfolio of Pahlavi ostraca and papyri (Corpus Inscr. Iran., 1957).

Henri-Charles Puech (1902-86), a specialist of patristics, gnosis and Manicheism, was the holder of the chair of history of religions at the Collège de France (1952-72). He had a profound impact on current scholarship on the formative period of Christian theology and the masters of the Alexandria school (Clement, Origen), and on the milieu in which this theology developed and interacted with different gnosis, most notably manicheism. In his research he used material from recent discoveries of Manichean papyri from Fayyūm (1930), of Greek papyri in South Cairo (1941) and of the thirteen gnostic codices from Nag Hammadi (1945). His many publications include the succinct introduction to Manicheism, Le Manichéisme: son fondateur, sa doctrine (Paris, 1949); En quête de la Gnose (2 vols, Paris 1978) and his collected articles, Sur le manichéisme et autres essais (Paris, 1979). Although his lectures on the liturgy and rites of the Manicheans remain unpublished, his many articles and reviews listed in the bibliography included in his festschrift (Mélanges d’histoire des religions offerts à Henri-Charles Puech, Paris, 1974) are evidence of the range and depth of his scholarship.

Daniel Schlumberger (1904-72) a great archeologist and historian of art, was the director of the Délégation archéologique française en Afghanistan from 1946 to 1963 and carried out excavations at Sorḵ-kotal and Balkh, and, later, with Paul Bernard at Āy Ḵānom (q.v.). As a specialist in the late Hellenistic period in the Middle East, Schlumberger was well equipped to analyze Greco-Bactrian culture. His publications include important reports of excavations and finds by the Delegation, including his articles on numismatics in Trésors monétaires d’Afghanistan (ed. with Raoul Curiel, MDAFA 14, Paris, 1953). But Schlumberger’s most important contributions are probably his books on the Greco-Asiatic culture: a collection of articles published first in Syria was compiled as a book, Descendants non méditerranéens de l’art grec (Paris, 1960), and his major study L’Orient hellénisé: L’art grec et ses héritiers dans l’Asie non méditerranéenne (Baden-Baden, 1969; Paris, 1970), a synthesis of his original ideas on the Hellenistic art, finely illustrated. Surkh Kotal en Bactriane I: Les temples (MDAFA 25; Paris, 1983), written in collaboration with Marc Le Berre and Gerard Fussman was published posthumously.

Raoul Curiel (b.1913), worked with Schlumberger, as archeologist, epigraphist, and numismatist, participating in the Laškarī Bāzār and Sorḵ-kotal excavations. As cited above, he wrote on numismatics in the collection he co-edited with Schlumberger, on another hoard in his Le Trésor monétaire de Qunduz (in collaboration with Gérard Fussman, MDAFA 20, Paris, 1965) and in Une collection de monnaies de cuivre arabo-sasanides (in collaboration with Rika Gyselen, Paris, 1984). Also with Gyselen, he co-edited a volume of essays in honor of Claude Cahen (Itinéraires d’Orient: hommages à Claude Cahen, Res Orientales 6, Bures-sur-Yvette, France, 1995). He served in various official posts as a director of the Archaeological Survey of Pakistan, Assistant Director of the Musées de France, and curator in the department of Oriental coins at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque nationale.

Jean Maurice Fiey, O.P., (1914-95), was the undisputed authority on the historical geography of Syriac Christians. He lived in Mossul and Baghdad from 1939 to 1973 and later in Beirut. The reports of his many surveys of Christian archeological sites were published in his Assyrie chrétienne (3 vols., Beirut, 1965-68). He was a prolific contributor to CSCO as well as to several academic journals (for a list of his major works and collections of his articles see Mérigoux, pp. 123-27).

Gilbert Lazard (b. 1920), is both a linguist and a specialist in classical Persian literature, with a range and depth of learning reminiscent of Meillet and Benveniste. Much of his work, including his grammar of modern Persian and his invaluable historical and philological studies of early Persian poetry and prose, fall outside the scope of this article. His scattered articles on the formative period of Persian language have been collected in his La Formation de la langue persane (Paris, 1995). His knowledge of Persian dialects and particularly of Judeo-Persian combined with long familiarity with Persian literary sources have enhanced his contributions to both synchronic and diachronic studies of language, including that of the verbal system of Iranian languages and his studies on Persian prosody. He has also contributed to general linguistics. His contribution to general comparative grammar, L’Actance (Paris, 1994) has recently been translated into English (Berlin and New York, 1998.)

Although much of his work remains unpublished, Jean Perrot (b. 1920) has been an influential figure in French archeology in Persia. He was the director of the Délégation Archéologique Française from 1968 until the Revolution of 1979. During his directorship it was decided to keep all excavated objects in Persia rather than apportioning them between France and Persia (Bagherzadeh, pp. xv-xxi.) He was also instrumental in training young Persian archeologists in fieldwork. During his period at Susa, the foundation tables of the Darius palace (deciphered by F. Vallat) and the colossal statue of Darius bearing a quadrilingual inscription were discovered. He also founded a new archeological series, Cahiers de la Délégation Archéologique Française en Iran (CDAFI).

François Vallat and Father Marie-Joseph Stève are both epigraphists and have contributed authoritative articles on Elamite culture in general and its legacy in Iran.

Among the historian Marie-Louise Chaumont’s contributions to the history of Christianity in the Sasanian empire are her Recherches sur l’histoire d’Arménie de l’avènement des Sassanides à la conversion du royaume (Paris, 1969) and La Christianisation de l’empire iranien des origines aux grandes persécutions du IVe siècle (CSCO 499, LXXX, 1988).

Pierre Amiet (b. 1922), archeologist and art historian, was appointed curator of the department of oriental antiquities at the Louvre Museum in 1961, in succession to A. Parrot. His many books and articles (Vanden Berghe, pp. xiv-xxi) attest to his interest in many aspects of Iranian art and include the following: Glyptique susienne (MDAFI 43, 2 vols, Paris, 1972); Elam (1966); Collection David-Weill: Les antiquités du Luristan (Paris, 1976), and L’Art antique du Proche-Orient (Paris, 1977).

Jean Deshayes (1924-79), was an eminent archeologist and writer on prehistory, who as director of the Art and Archaeology Institute in Paris, promoted the study of oriental archeology. His Les Civilisations de l’Orient ancien (Paris, 1969) showed his wide learning. In his fieldwork in the Gorgān region, he excavated the site at Tureng Tepe (1960-77) and although he was above all interested in pre-historical layers, he discovered a small fire temple from the Islamic period. The report of his excavations were published in Fouilles de Tureng Tepe, sous la direction de Jean Deshayes I: Les périodes sassanides et islamiques, Paris, 1987.

Marijan Molé (1924-63), a specialist in Pahlavi and classical Persian literature and mysticism, was also a gifted historian of religion. He presented his very original views on Zoroastrian ritual and practices in a large and influential work, Culte, mythe et cosmologie dans l’Iran ancien (Paris, 1963), based on a wide reading of Gathic and Pahlavi texts. He was a supporter of the non-historicity of Zoroaster, a stance which was perhaps detrimental to his other well-founded theories. His researches on the Zoroaster’s legend were revised and published after his untimely death by Jean de Menasce as La Légende de Zoroastre selon les textes pehlevis (Paris, 1967). His other publications are valuable contributions to the study of Islamic mysticism and the history of Sufi orders.

André Maricq (1925-60), whose untimely death brought his short but highly promising academic career to an abrupt end, was first interested in the trilingual inscription of Šāpūr I. His joint work with Ernest Honigmann, Recherches sur les Res Gestae Divi Saporis (Brussels, 1953), showed great skill in tackling the intricate problems of historical geography involved in that inscription. After a long sojourn in the Middle East and Persia, where he began to collect Sasanian seal impressions, he wrote several articles which were published in Syria (1955-62) and later reprinted in Classica et Orientalia (Paris, 1965). He then served in the Délégation archéologique en Afghanistan and studied the famous Bactrian inscription of Kanishka, which he published in the Journal asiatique (1958). He discovered the Jām minaret (in the Harī-rūd valley) and published his findings with the collaboration of Gaston Wiet (Le Minaret de Djam: La découverte de la capitale des sultans Ghorides [XIIe-XIIIe siècles], Paris, 1959).

Paul Bernard (b. 1929), an authority on the diffusion of Hellenism in the east, was the director of the Délégation archéologique française en Afghanistan (1965-80). He excavated the great Hellenistic site of Āy Ḵānom (q.v.). Reports of these and his other excavations were published in several articles and in MDAFA (vols 21 and 28).

Philippe Gignoux (b. 1931), an epigraphist and historian of Zoroastrianism, has carried out research on classification and publication of sources for the Sasanian period. The primary sources, the only extant Iranian official documents, are the surviving rock-inscriptions, seals and clay sealings. Contemporary external sources come next, followed by evidence from later centuries. Using this methodology, he strove to study and publish the primary sources. He compiled the vocabulary of the inscriptions in Glossaire des inscriptions pehlevies et parthes (London, 1972), and published a short book on Les Quatre inscriptions du mage Kirdīr (Paris, 1991). Also in this connection, he collected thousands of inscriptions on Sasanian seals and clay sealings from different museums and private collections which were then published in several catalogues: Catalogue des sceaux, camées et bulles Sasanides de la Bibliothèque nationale et du Musée du Louvre II: Les sceaux et bulles inscrits (Paris, 1978); Sceaux Sasanides de diverses collections privées (Paris, 1982); and Bulles et sceaux sassanides de diverses collections (Paris, 1987); the last two in collaboration with Rika Gyselen. The numerous official titles and proper names found on these inscriptions were classified and published as “Noms propres sassanides en moyen-perse épigraphique,” in Iranisches Personennamenbuch II/2, 1986). As Father J. de Menasce’s successor to the chair of Religions of Ancient Iran, Gignoux has also worked on Pahlavi religious texts and published a French translation of the Ardā wīrāz-nāmag (Paris, 1984) and later, in collaboration with the late Ahmad Tafazzoli, edited the Anthologie de Zādspram (Paris, 1993). He has also written on Iranian apocalyptic and Syriac magical texts. His series of lectures on shamanistic traces in Iran, delivered as the Ratanbai Katrak Lectures at Oxford in 1996 is to be published as Man and Cosmos in Ancient Iran.

Michel Tardieu (b. 1938), historian of religion, and particularly of Manicheism and gnosis, is the author of a short but masterly account of Manicheism in the popular Que sais-je series (Le Manichéisme, Paris, 1981, 2nd ed, 1997) as well as many other books and articles on the subject (see his bibliography in Bibliographica Manichaica: A Comprehensive Bibliography of Manichaeism Through 1996, Turnhout, 1997, pp. 241-52).

Pierre Lecoq (b. 1939), linguist, and a student of Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, spent several years in Persia pursuing a study of central dialects. His thesis was published as Le Dialecte de Sivand (Wiesbaden, 1979). His studies on Old Persian have appeared in articles as well as in his recent book, Les Inscriptions de la Perse achéménide (Paris, 1997).

Pierre Briant, a historian of Greek antiquity, has also written on civilizations of the east. His publications include L’Asie centrale et les royaumes proche-orientaux du premier millénaire (Paris, 1984) and the monumental Histoire de l’empire perse de Cyrus à Alexandre (Paris, 1996), an indispensable source of reference.

Rika Gyselen (b. 1942), archeologist by formation, numismatist and historian of art, worked on new hoards and on sigillography. She has constituted a typology of the iconographical motifs on Sasanian seals. With Ludvik Kalus, she published Deux trésors monétaires des premiers temps de l’Islam (Paris, 1983) and with Raoul Curiel Une collection de monnaies de cuivres arabo-sasanides (Paris, 1984, see above). She has also compiled two Catalogues of seals and sealings with Ph. Gignoux (1982, 1987; see above). Using geographical data culled from the sealings inscriptions and combining them with the numismatic evidence, she has traced the picture of the administrative provinces of the late Sasanian period (La Géographie administrative de l’empire sassanide: les témoignages sigillographiques, Paris, 1989). She has also published two large catalogues, the Catalogue des sceaux, camées et bulles sassanides de la Bibliothèque nationale et du Musée du Louvre I: Collection générale, Paris, 1993, and L’art sigillaire dans les collections de Leyde: Rijksmuseum Het Koninlijk Penningkabinet, Leiden, 1996. Her Sceaux magiques en Iran sassanide (Paris, 1995) is a fine contribution to iconography and identification of magic seals.

Frantz Grenet (b. 1952), archeologist and a specialist of the East Iranian and Central Asian culture, was co-director of the Āy Ḵānom excavations from 1977 to 1981. His thesis on history of funerary practices in Sogdiana and Bactria, has been published as Les pratiques funéraires dans l’Asie centrale sédentaire de la conquête grecque à l’islamisation (Paris, 1984).

Finally it should be pointed out that the existence of several journals published by French institutions, including those specializing in archeology or linguistics (MDAF, MDAFI, CDAFI, BSL, etc) as well as the more wide ranging Studia Iranica, which began publication in 1972 under the editorship of Aubin and Gignoux and its bibliographial supplement, Abstracta Iranica,which began in 1978 under de Fouchécour, have provided convenient venues for the publication of research by scholars mentioned in our long but by no means exhaustive list.



P. Amiet, “Notice Nécrologique: Roman Ghirshman (1895-1979),” Stud. Ir. 9, 1980, pp. 142-45.

F. Bagherzadeh, “Jean Perrot ami de l’Iran: témoignage et hommage,” in F. Vallat, ed., Contributions à l’histoire de l’Iran: mélanges offerts à Jean Perrot, Paris, 1990, pp. XV-XXI.

J. Baldick, Homer and the Indo-Europeans, London and New York, 1994.

W. Belier, Decayed Gods: Origin and Development of Georges Dumézil’s “Idéologie tripartite,” Leiden, 1991 (contains a bibliography of Dumézil’s works).

É. Benveniste, “Bibliographie des Travaux d’Antoine Meillet,” BSL 38, 1937, pp. 43-68.

Bio-bibliographies de 134 savants, Acta Iranica 20, Leiden, 1979.

R. Boucharlat, “Notice nécrologique: Jean Deshayes (1924- 1979),” Stud. Ir. 8, 1979, p. 301-3.

R. Curiel, “En souvenir de Jean de Menasce,” Stud. Ir. 7, 1978, pp. 289-91. J. Duchesne-Guillemin, “Georges Dumézil (1899-1986) et l’iranologie,” Stud. Ir. 17, 1988, pp. 95-97.

C.-H. de Fouchécour and P. Gignoux, eds., Études irano-aryennes offertes à Gilbert Lazard, Studia Iranica, cahier 7, Paris, 1989.

E. Gran-Aymerich, Naissance de l’archéologie moderne 1798-1945, Paris, 1998.

P. Gignoux, “L’Iran Ancien,” in Cinquante ans d’orientalisme en France (1922-72), JA 261 (special issue), 1973, pp. 117-23.

Idem, “Notice nécrologique: Émile Benveniste (1902-1976),” Stud. Ir. 6, 1977, pp. 129-31. Idem, “James Darmesteter: His Contribution to the Mythology of the Amesha Spentas,” Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bombay 69, 1994, pp. 27-40.

G. Lazard, “James Darmesteter: His Life and Works,” Journal of the Royal Society of Bombay 69, 1994, pp. 5-18.

S. Lotringer and T. Gora, eds., Polyphonic Linguistics: The Many Voices of Émile Benveniste, Semiotica, Special Supplement, The Hague and New York, 1981.

M. Marefat, “The Protagonists who Shaped Modern Tehran,” in C. Adle and B. Hourcade, eds., Téhéran capital bicentenaire, Bibliothèque Iranienne 37, Paris and Tehran, 1992, pp. 95-125.

H. Massé, “André Godard (1881-1965),” JA 253, 1965, pp. 415-17.

A. Meillet, “Nécrologie: Robert Gauthiot,” BSL 20, 1916, pp. 127-32.

Mélanges d’histoire des religions offerts à Henri-Charles Puech, Paris, 1974.

J. de Menasce, Textes réunis, ed. M. Dousse and J.-M. Roessli, Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire, Fribourg, 1998.

Idem, Études iraniennes, Studia Iranica, Cahier 3, Paris, 1985.

J.-M. Mérigoux, “Père Jean Maurice Fiey, OP (1914-1995),” Stud. Ir. 26, 1997, pp. 123-27.

M. Dj. Moïnfar, “Bibliographie des travaux d’Émile Benveniste,” Mélanges linguistiques offerts à É. Benveniste, Collection linguistique publiée par la Société de Linguistique de Paris 70, Paris, 1975, pp. ix-liii.

J. de Morgan, Mémoires de Jacques de Morgan, ed. A. Jaunay, Paris, 1997.

F. Olivier-Utard, Politique et archéologie: histoire de la Délégation archéologique française en Afghanistan (1922-1982), Paris, 1997.

G. Serbat et al, eds., É. Benveniste aujourd’hui, Actes du Colloque international du CNRS, 2 vols., Paris and Louvain, 1984.

C. Roche, “Jean Perrot et l’Iran,” in F. Vallat, ed., Contributions à l’histoire de l’Iran: mélanges offerts à Jean Perrot, Paris, 1990, pp. ix-xiii.

H. Seyrig, “André Maricq (1925-1960),” Syria 38, 1961, pp. 350-54 (repr. in Classica et Orientalia, 1965, pp. v-ix).

M. Tardieu, “Henri-Charles Puech (1902-1986),” JA 275, 1987, pp. 7-11.

F. Vallat, ed., Contributions à l’histoire de l’Iran: mélanges offerts à Jean Perrot, Paris, 1990.

L. Vanden Berghe, “Biographie et Bibliographie de P. Amiet,” Iranica Antiqua 23 (Mélanges P. Amiet I), 1988, pp. ix-xxi.

J. Vendryes, “Antoine Meillet,” BSL 38, 1937, pp. 1-42.

(Philippe Gignoux)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: May 17, 2016

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 2, pp. 167-173

Cite this entry:

Philippe Gignoux, “FRANCE xii(b). IRANIAN STUDIES IN FRANCE: PRE-ISLAMIC PERIOD,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, X/2, pp. 167-173, available online at (accessed on 30 December 2012).