September 2018


Professor Ehsan Yarshater 


The Trustees and Director of the Iran Heritage Foundation are sad to record the death of Professor Ehsan Yarshater on 1st September in California at the age of 98. He was in every sense the grand old man of Iranian studies, and made a massive contribution to this subject. He was born in Hamedan and studied at the University of Tehran and the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. He went to Columbia University in 1958 and was appointed Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies in 1961. He followed this up by founding the Centre for Iranian Studies (now the Ehsan Yarshater Centre for Iranian Studies) at Columbia in 1968. During his long and distinguished career many honours and prizes came his way, and amongst his many publications are volumes on Persian poetry, Persian literature, and Persian dialects. He also edited volume 3 of the Cambridge History of Iran covering the Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian periods.

His great monument, however, will be Encyclopaedia Iranica, of which he was the founding editor, and IHF is proud to have been a supporter of this tremendous initiative. Covering all aspects of Iranian studies, the Encyclopaedia is an invaluable resource for the study of Iranian history and cultural heritage. It is gratifying that the on-line version of the Encyclopaedia is almost complete, while the printed volumes now number 15 and have reached the letter K.  In addition to this magisterial work he was also the consulting editor for a number of other series, underlining his reputation as the greatest scholar in his time of Iranian studies. He will be much missed, but his life’s work will be an example and an inspiration for future generations of researchers. Ehsan Yarshater was no cloistered scholar, however, and recognised the importance of making information accessible to everybody, and that is exactly what Encyclopaedia Iranica does.