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08 July 2004



After passing 30 years of a 45-year-long project, authors of Iran’s most comprehensive encyclopaedia, Iranica, say they have reached the half way milestone, completing the tome from the letter A to the mid-H.

Since 1979, the Encyclopaedia has been supported as a "major project" by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the foremost sponsor of educational, academic and research projects in the US.


The encyclopaedia covers Iranian historical and cultural developments since the Stone Age till modern times and features such categories as anthropology, zoology, mysticism and information on Iranian world, including Central Asia that have shared cultures with Iranians.

Though after compiling all entries, the tome will be published, you can still find its so-far-completed articles on the Internet at  It is the brainchild of Professor Ehsan Yarshater, who at 84 still supervises the authors as vigorous and energetic as 30 years ago.

“When I was a student, I was frustrated at the lack of research tools,” said Yarshater, professor of Iranology at Columbia University. “When the Encyclopaedia of Islam came out, I thought it could answer my questions, but failed because it generally dealt with the history of Iran after Islam, whereas the number of years prior to Arab’s invasion is bigger.”

Encyclopaedia Iranica is, indeed, a historic undertaking: the most extensive compendium ever conceived on the past and present culture of the people who speak an Iranian language and their contribution to the broader history of human civilization. In fact it is the only precise and reliable reference work on the lands, life, culture and history of all Iranian peoples and their interaction with other societies.

To ensure the completion of this monumental work the Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation has been established since 1989. Partially supported by the NEH, the ongoing publication of the Encyclopaedia Iranica is made possible by donations from institutions and individuals to either Columbia University or the Foundation, both tax exempt organizations.

The first and second fascicles of Volume XII of the Encyclopaedia Iranica were published in the summer and fall of 2003. They feature over 120 articles on various aspects of Iranian culture and history, including four series of articles on specific subjects: four entries on Sadeq Hedayat, four entries on Hazara groups in Afghanistan, four entries on Helmand River, and eight entries on Herat.



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