Judith A. Lerner

Visiting Research Scholar 2010-2011

Judith A. Lerner is an independent art historian who received her MA in Art and Archaeology from Columbia University and her PhD in Ancient Art (Department of Fine Arts) from Harvard University. Her research has focused on the art of pre-Islamic Iran, specifically that of the Achaemenid (550-330 BCE) and Sasanian (224-651 CE) Empires, and in particular, on the seals from these periods. Her long-standing interest in Iran and its artistic influence in the ancient Near East and Central Asia has led to a shift in her research to exploring the artistic and cultural interchanges of societies along the so-called “Silk Road.” To this end, she has published extensively on the funerary art of the Sogdian (East Iranian) communities in China and on the seals and sealings from Bactria (northwestern Afghanistan) and Greater Gandhara (the Northwestern Indian Cultural Zone) of the late 4th to mid-8th century CE.

At ISAW, she will concentrate on this second research area, cataloguing and analyzing the mass of visual material that comprises the Bactrian and Gandharan glyptic corpus. These seals and sealings form an important category of material culture, hitherto of limited availability, that is distinguished by a clearly defined social and economic function within the societies of the region, as well as by an extensive and rich range of images and styles that reflect the diverse and complex intermingling of that region’s artistic and religious traditions.

Judith also serves as co-editor of the Journal of Inner Asian Art and Archaeology, which is devoted to the art, archaeology, language and history of the regions stretching from the Iranian plateau to western China and from the Eurasian steppes to the northwest of the Indian subcontinent.