UCLA established a new interdisciplinary center focused on the study of ancient Iran and its influences on contemporary Iran.
The Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World is the first center in the Western Hemisphere focused on ancient Iranian languages, history and religions, according to a UCLA press release published Tuesday.
The center is named after professor Ebrahim Pourdavoud, a pioneering scholar of ancient Persia. Professor Pourdavoud’s granddaughter, Anahita Naficy Lovelace and her husband, James Lovelace, helped establish the center with a donation. The press release did not specify the donation amount.
“My grandfather devoted a lifetime to the study of the history, languages, religions and culture of ancient Iran,” Lovelace said in the statement. “I am so grateful that Jim and I have the good fortune to be able to honor and extend the impact of his important contributions.”
The Pourdavoud Center will host lectures, seminars, workshops and conferences, and will provide grants to scholars to generate and disseminate innovative scholarship on ancient Iran.
The Pourdavoud Center will aim to engage in research on all aspects of Iranian antiquity by expanding on the traditional domains of Old Iranian studies and promoting cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scholarship, according to the press release.
Professor M. Rahim Shayegan, who leads UCLA’s Iranian Studies program, will also lead the Pourdavoud Center when it launches in the spring.
“We are very grateful to the Lovelaces for providing us crucial resources to revive the study of Iranian antiquity,” Shayegan said. “A research institute of this magnitude can have a transformative impact on the fortunes of the whole discipline, decisively reversing its decline and reinforcing its foundation.”
Lovelace, a clinical psychologist practicing in Los Angeles, said she was impressed by the quality of UCLA’s program of Iranian Studies and thinks the field will continue to thrive.
“With new tools for discovery and expanding opportunities for exchange of ideas, it behooves us all to work together to keep our ancient civilizations alive and relevant for future generations,” she said.
About Pourdavoud Center
Established in 2017 as the premier research center for the study of ancient Iran, the mission of the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World is to engage in transformative research on all aspects of Iranian antiquity, including its reception in the medieval and modern periods, by expanding on the traditional domains of Old Iranian studies and promoting cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scholarship.
The Pourdavoud Center intends to be a disciplinary home to stimulating intellectual encounters and exchanges for scholars working on ancient Iran and the ancient world, and will contribute to the development of collaborative research projects in such diverse areas as Assyriology, Biblical Studies, Central Asian studies, Classics, Egyptology, ancient History, Indology, Sinology, and the Study of Religion.
Honoring an Iconic Scholar
The Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World, named after the late Professor Ebrahim Pourdavoud, was made possible by a gift from his granddaughter, Dr. Anahita Naficy Lovelace, and her husband, James B. Lovelace. Professor Pourdavoud, an iconic scholar of ancient Iran, is responsible for instituting the study of ancient Persia as an academic discipline in 1924, and training and mentoring generations of scholars during his career. He pioneered the first new Persian translation of the Avesta, the sacred scriptures of the Zoroastrian religion, and profoundly impacted Iranian mores by resurrecting and identifying ancient Persia as a positive force for societal progress in Iran.