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Exploring Iran: The Photography of Erich F. Schmidt, 1930-1940

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The Penn Museum's first archaeological expedition to Iran took place in 1931, when Erich F. Schmidt excavated the Bronze Age site of Tepe Hissar near the town of Damghan and the monumental buildings of the pre-Islamic Sasanian Palace.

In this part of his adventurous and courageous life, Schmidt, then a young German WWI veteran who had received his Ph.D. degree under Franz Boas at Columbia University, documented the project with nearly 2,600 culturally significant photos—many under far from ideal conditions—of desert and mountain tribes, the sites, government administrators, and a full panoply of the people he encountered from Fara (Iraq), Damghan, Tepe Hissar, Persepolis, including aerial reconnaissance.

Gürsan-Salzmann has selected 64 memorable and instructive prints from the Museum's archives for the book's interior and has assembled dozens more from the Schmidt Collection, Chicago's Oriental Institute, and from family members for an accompanying CD-ROM. She helps readers interpret the cultural and physical landscapes of the Iran and Iraq of nearly 75 years ago as their ethnographic and historical treasures came to light.

Ayse Gursan-Salzmann, a graduate of Robert College (Istanbul) and Ball State University, earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a research associate at the Penn Museum.

Cite this Record

Exploring Iran: The Photography of Erich F. Schmidt, 1930-1940. ( tDAR id: 376583) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8V69M0J



Site Name
Damghan Fara (Iraq) Persepolis Tepe Hissar

Investigation Types
Remote Sensing


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: 43.154; min lat: 23.483 ; max long: 64.775; max lat: 40.647 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): University of Pennsylvania Press Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Source Collections

Schmidt Collection
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Private Collections
Chicago's Oriental Institute

There are 2 Resources within this Project

  • Documents (2)


  1. Exploring Iran: The Photography of Erich F. Schmidt, 1930-1940 (2007)
  2. Exploring Iran: The Photography of Erich F. Schmidt, 1930-1940, Supplementary Material (2007)