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
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.
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 www.iranica.com. It is the brainchild of Professor Ehsan Yarshater, who at 84
still supervises the authors as vigorous and energetic as 30
“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.