Iranian Elamitologist honored by UNESCO

May 28, 2022 - 21:6

TEHRAN –On Friday, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO held a ceremony at the National Museum of Iran in downtown Tehran to commemorate veteran researcher and Elamitologist Abdolmajid Arfaei. 

Entitled “Faces to the Sun”, the event was organized to honor Arfaei for his lifetime achievement in translating ancient languages, ISNA reported on Saturday. 

The ceremony was attended by a number of cultural officials including the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO director Hojjatollah Ayyubi, the National Museum director Jebrael Nokandeh, scholar and expert on Shahnameh Mir Jalaleddin Kazzazi, and linguist Jaleh Amuzegar. 

Having read important words from the cuneiform, Arfaei narrated a part of Iranian history, Ayyubi said in his speech during the event. 

Thanks to him, we know more about our past and are better educated about it as he gives us a deeper understanding of our history, he added.  

For his part, Nokandeh said that Arfaei has played an important role in organizing the inscriptions of the National Museum and has organized more than 5,000 works.

Moreover, he contributed to the reading and translation of the Achaemenid-era clay tablets, which were on loan to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago from Iran since 1935, and was a key figure in returning more than 2,000 of them to Iran, he explained. 

A graduate of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, Arfaei, is an expert on the Avestan, Pahlavi, and Elamite languages.

Born in 1939 in Bandar Abbas, southern Iran, Arfaei studied Persian literature in Dar-ul-Fonun, an advanced school established by the Qajar king Nasser ad-Din Shah’s Chancellor Mirza Taqi Farahani (Amir Kabir).

Afterward, he left Iran for the United States to resume his studies and obtained a Ph.D. from the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago in 1974.

His doctoral thesis on the topic of Fars geography was based on clay inscriptions discovered at Persepolis.

Founder of the Inscriptions Hall at the National Museum of Iran, Arfaei is the author of “The Decree of Cyrus the Great”, a book giving a unique elucidation of the Cyrus the Great Cylinder, which is inscribed with what is considered to be the world’s first charter of human rights.

He has also participated in deciphering Mesopotamian legal inscriptions.



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