Dan Potts Announced as Speaker for The Biennial Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series

By Hannah McDonald

Prof. Dan Potts will deliver the Biennial Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series at the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World (UCLA) in March 2020. Supported by a perpetual endowment to UCLA, and inspired by the Quatre Leçons au Collège de France, the Biennial Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series serves to promote scholarship in the field of ancient Iranian studies by enabling distinguished members of the academy to present a series of four or five lectures reflecting new perspectives and advances within the wider field of Iranian Studies. The proceedings of the Ehsan Yarshater Lecture Series are published as monographs and supported by the lecture series’ endowment. The title of Prof. Potts’ series is ‘Kinship and society in ancient Iran.’

It will consist of five lectures devoted to an exploration of:

1. Kith and kin, tribe and state
2. Kinship, domestic production and the notion of 'tribes' in prehistoric Iran
3. Kinship and social structure in the Elamite world
4. Symbiosis and predation from the Medes to the Seleucids
5. Kinship, ancestors and the power of family in later pre-Islamic Iran

The Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World has now published the recordings of Prof. Potts lectures online:

Money is to the West, What Kinship is to the Rest

Aspects of Kinship in Iranian Prehistory
Problems in the Study of Elamite Kinship
Descent and Marriage in Achaemenid Iran
Feudalism and its Characteristics in Ancient Iran

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 center complements UCLA’s well-established program in Iranian Studies – founded in 1963 – which attracts 1,000 students from all over campus to its courses each year.  The Iranian Studies program, led by Prof. M. Rahim Shayegan, is home to the largest and most comprehensive doctoral program of its kind in the Americas and is unique in covering the entire spectrum of Iranian Studies across disciplines, linguistic boundaries, and periods. Its distinctive strengths are Old and Middle Iranian philology, ancient Iranian history and religions, archaeology, and classical Persian literature.
The Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World is named after the late Prof. Ebrahim Pourdavoud, an iconic scholar of ancient Iran, who was 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. Prof. Pourdavoud’s granddaughter, Dr. Anahita Naficy Lovelace, and her husband, Mr. James B. Lovelace, have endowed the Pourdavoud Center with a generous gift.