Ancient Iran Day 2018

Submitted by Bret Windhauser on

by Jeffrey Haines

On December 1, 2018, NELC was pleased to host Ancient Iran Day, an educational event designed to bring Iran’s history to the general public.  Hosting over fifteen hands-on exhibits, lectures, a slideshow of Iranian artifacts and heritage sites, and a family activity area, Ancient Iran Day drew over five hundred students and members of the local community, some of whom encountered Ancient Iran for the first time.

Ancient Iran (ca. 4000 BC-651 CE) produced some of the greatest technological and cultural marvels of its time, and the organizers of the event used creative techniques to bring this world to life.  Visitors could touch a model of a qanat (underground irrigation system), have their fortunes told with Iranian astrology, or have their name written in Avestan, thanks to the efforts of more than fifty volunteers who donated their time and talents to the project.  Excerpts of ancient writings at each exhibit, paired with images of archaeological objects, provided a visual introduction to Iran’s past, as did an extensive slideshow of buildings and monuments from across Iran, courtesy of Professor Emeritus Daniel Waugh.  Finally, specialists from the University of Washington and beyond gave twenty-minute presentations on Iranian pottery, metallurgy, coinage, and religious life to a packed house. Families with children also had their own options, including a cuneiform writing station and a scavenger hunt that ranged across multiple rooms.

Participants praised the organization and upbeat tone of the event, as well as its ability to be informative but also accessible to the public. “I loved the presentation about the calendars, the days and the months – I loved that,” one visitor told interviewers.  “They’re part of my ancient culture.”

Special credit for the event belongs to Joel Walker, Associate Professor of History, Stephanie Selover, Assistant Professor of Archaeology, Shahrzad Shams, Lecturer in Persian, Jeffrey Haines, Ph.D Student in History, Jennifer Hunter, Ph.D Student in the Near Eastern Interdisciplinary Program, and Ryan Robinson, NELC major, who planned the event together for nearly ten months.  Additional thanks belong to Shirin Barekatein, who handled design, and Kiana Ehsani, Ph.D. Student in Computer Science, who helped from the beginning with ideas, inspiration, and connections with the local Persian graduate community.

Ancient Iran Day: Another Side of the Ancient World was made possible by the generosity of several university units, including the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization and its Persian and Iranian Studies Program, the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, the Comparative Religion Program, and the History Department.

Special thanks to all of those who helped plan, organize, and execute the event.  The NELC department is proud to be a juncture for so many scholars, crossing disciplines and fields of study for the common pursuit of knowledge.  Below is a full list of volunteers who helped make this event possible. 

Dr. Farshad Alamdari Yalda Daneshfarnia Tom and Virginia Stave Dr. Daniel Waugh (History, Emeritus)
Kiana Ehsani Aegron Ethen Patrick Gibbs Jeff Haines
Jennifer Hunter Ryan Robinson Stephanie Selover (NELC) Shahrzad Shams
Joel Walker (History) Scott McDonough Mehdi and Monir Ghanbeigi Khodi Kaviani
Aria Bakery Iraj Khademi and the Persian Poetry and Music Workshop of Seattle Professional Copy 'n' Print Seattle-Isfahan Sister City Advocacy
Amir Asgari Trevor Layman Jila Misaghi Imaan Ramezanzadeh
Nusha Sepehri Mitra Shemirani Andrea Toomey Mika Ahuvia (Jackson School)
Mira Green (History) Selim Kuru (NELC) Sarah Levin-Richardson (Classics) Talant Mawkanuli (NELC)
Conor Mayo-Wilson (Philosophy) Hamza Zafer (NELC) Afsaneh Haddadian (Jackson School) Spencer Pennington (South Asia)
Yung Hsin Shee (Education) Keah Watkins (Comparative Religion) Jingwen Zhou (Biostatistics) Jordyn Anable
Skyler Brown Anika Chadha Piper Coyner Dutton Crowley
Andrea Gonzales Eric Gripp Noah Gruenert Amanda Karimi
Arwa Mokdad Anusha Nasrulai Elizabeth Peterson Ava Sharifi
Kayla van Kooten Jasper Winters Baabak Nassirian Anastasia Hornal
Follow Your Feet Production Emma Hinchcliffe Maluhia Shaw Maluhia Creative
Sam Jamali Shirin Barekatein Rick Aguilar Mahshid Gharibi
Niloofar Hashemian Khodadad (Khodi) Kaviani Morad Kaviani Saman Shojaei
Sima Abbaszadeh Setareh Mardan