Recently, UC Berkeley professor of Near Eastern Archaeology David Stronach, was announced the 2004 recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America's Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement. The medal is the highest honor bestowed by the AIA, and is given in recognition of a scholar who has made distinguished contributions to archaeology through his or her fieldwork, publications, and teaching. The award caps Professor Stronach's 23-year career at UC Berkeley. [Stronach's note cuniform]
Stronach is undoubtedly one of the world's top experts on Pasargadae. In the 1960s and 70s he was also Director of the British Institute of Persian Studies in Tehran. The breadth and distinction of his scholarship have earned him many honors and awards, including the invitation to deliver endowed lectures at Harvard and Columbia among many other distinguished academic institutes. In a recent interview, the professor, who plans to return to Iran this fall, spoke of his many memories excavating sites of ancient Persia.
Of Stronach's more recent and interesting research is a Great Wall built by Khosrow I in 531 AD in today's southern Russia. Still standing at 7 meters high, and running 46 km long from the coastal city of Derbent (Darband), the wall was erected in order to protect Sasanian Iran from the depredations of the Huns and other nomadic peoples that were then present north of Iran.
Another notable interest (for me at least) is Tami Stronach, professor Stronach's daughter, whom many of you will remember her from Wolfgang Peterson' s 1984 blockbuster “The Never Ending Story“. Born in Tehran in 1972, Tamara played the “child empress” in the film, which was based on Michael Ende's novel “Die Unendliche Geschichte”, which has also been translated into Farsi.
She is currently a choreographer, dancer, and ballet teacher based in NY. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships and has choreographed for musical theater productions presented by The Brooklyn Theater Company, Target Margin Theater, and Fifthstreet Theater. Danspace Projects will present her own production next season at Saint Marks Church May, 5th-8th 2005. (located on 2nd Ave. and 10th Street in Manhattan, NY)
It is a great pleasure to have distinguished friends such as professor Stronach back in Iran once again. May the forces of friendship between the United States of America and Iran once more prevail.