Visiting US Scholar Holly Pittman Held Lecture on Archaeology in Iran
On November 9th 2009, Professor Holly Pittman from US University of Pennsylvania came to PKU on invitation to give a lecture on “Jiroft: New Civilization of Bronze Age on Iranian Plateau in the third millennium BC” to students and scholars in the Department of West Asian Languages. Professor Wang Yidan, Professor Li Zheng from Department of West Asian Languages, Professor Yan Haiying from Department of History, Professor Li Shuicheng, Professor Yao Huashan from Department of Archaeology and Liu Jian, researcher in China Academy of Social Sciences, attended this lecture.

Professor Holly Pittman got her Ph.D degree in Columbia University in 1990, and she was once curator of the Ancient Near East Art Section of the US Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is now professor of art history in University of Pennsylvania with specialty in Mesopotamian art and ancient Iranian art, and is also curator of the Near East Section of Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Professor Pittman has excavated in Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, which makes her an influential international scholar. She is now deputy director of the excavating program at Jiroft’s Konar Sandal historical sites in Southeastern Iran.
Jiroft historical sites lie along the Halil River in Southeastern Iran. In 2001 floods along the river uncovered numerous antique articles which invited illegal excavation activities that lasted for about eighteen months until it began to attract attentions from Iranian cultural institutes and academic areas. Until then Yousef Madjidzadeh, a renowned Iranian archaeologist, was asked officially to begin excavations in this area.
Professor Holly Pittman sketched a general picture of the current conditions of Jiroft’s Konar Sandal historical sites and recent excavation progress, and elaborated the relation of the culture in this area to its vicinity. Having conducted studies on industrial stones discovered in this area, Professor Holly Pittman confirmed Jiroft’s unique position in handiwork industry at that time. Until now six seasons of excavation at Konar Sandal historical sites has proved the existence of a highly civilized society in the area. Since the excavation has just started, there will be more discoveries to make in the future, which may change human history in the third millennium BC.
Professor Gong Yushu, Director of PKU Institute of Ancient Eastern Civilization, hosted the lecture. He in the first place briefed Jiroft’s position in the studies of world civilizations and evaluations it received from renowned international scholars. Jiroft has been “the Archaeological Capital of the World,” Professor Gong quoted famous French rchaeologist Jean Perrot. Doctor Yousef Majidzadeh, the Iranian archaeologist and director of the excavations, thinks that Jiroft is likely to be the legendary land of Aratta, a Bronze Age Kingdom recorded in the Sumerian epic Enmerker and the Lord Aratta. Professor Gong Yushu also conducted a monographic study of the epic in his book entitled Rise like the Sun: analysis of the Sumerian epic Enmerker and the Lord Aratta, which he gave to Holly Pittman as a gift. The book, which systematically studied Aratta in cuneiform documents, can provide valuable reference to archaeological studies, and therefore invites great interest from Professor Pittman who expressed her wish to cooperate with Professor Gong Yushu in the future.