Guitty Azarpay Distinguished Visitorship

Azarpay Distinguished Visitorship

The Azarpay Distinguished Visitorship was established in 2015 through a generous gift by Professor Emerita Guitty Azarpay and is used bi-annually to fund a visiting scholar to teach on the arts of Iran and Central Asia. 

Guitty Azarpay was born in Tehran, Iran, and came to the U.S. with her family in 1953 as a high school student. She completed her secondary education at a boarding school in England, and her post-secondary education at UC Berkeley where she graduated with a Ph.D. in Art History in 1964. Following her doctorate, she taught at UC Berkeley for over 40 years until her retirement in the early 2000s.

During her tenure at Berkeley, Guitty Azarpay was very active in the field of Iranian and Central Asian art nationally and internationally, but also at local Bay Area institutions including the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. She authored multiple standard works in her fields, including Sogdian Painting: The Pictorial Epic in Oriental Art (1981), the first work in English on the arts of the Sogdians in Central Asia, and Urartian Art & Artifacts (1968). In 1994, she was appointed to the editorial board of the Encyclopedia Iranica.

Guitty Azarpay was the recipient of numerous grants, including from the American Philosophical Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and held affiliations with various organizations, including the American Institute of Archaeology, the American Oriental Society, and the Asia Institute. She was also the recipient of the Book of the Year Award from the University of California Press, for Sogdian Painting, and received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement award.

At UC Berkeley, Guitty Azarpay together with emeriti professors Martin Schwartz and the late David Stronach, fostered a unique and vibrant environment that promoted the learning and understanding of the ancient Iranian and Central Asian worlds. Her gift will continue that legacy.

2019-2021 Azarpay Visitor: Soroor Ghanimati

Soroor Ghanimati, born and raised in Tehran, Iran, attended Tehran Art University, where she received her B.A. in design and architecture. In 1976, she came to the United States to continue with her master’s studies, while practicing architecture in San Diego, Los Angeles, and in the Bay Area. In 2001, she received her Ph.D. from the (then) Department of Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley. Her doctoral dissertation won the prize for the Best Research on an Iranian Studies topic from the Iranian reformist President Mohammad Khatami. She was the first woman and the first from a US university to receive this recognition. Dr. Ghanimati specializes in the history of art & archaeology of pre-Islamic and early Islamic Iran. Her research has been supported by many grants, including the National Geographic Society grant for archaeological fieldwork at the Zoroastrian temple complex of Kuh-e Khwaja in the Sistan region of Iran.

Dr. Ghanimati has also been a consultant for the UNESCO’s Tehran Cluster Offices, a research fellow at the Near Eastern Studies Department and the Tang Center for Silk Road Studies, as well as a lecturer of the Art and Culture of Iran at UC Merced. In addition, Ghanimati has been collaborating with the Italian Istituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale (ISPC, Institute of Sciences of the Cultural Heritage), serving as an architectural advisor on current and ongoing fieldworks at the Kuh-e Khwaja complex.