In memoriam David Stronach (1931-2020)

Today the sad news reached me that David Stronach has died. As director of the British Institute of Persian Studies in the 1960s and 70s he was a prolific excavator, a fact I have come to know well because material from several of his site — including Pasargadae, Tepe Nush-i Jan, Tall-i Nokhodi, Shahr-i Qumis and Yarim Tepe — is in the Met. This elegant carinated jar (63.102.10) is one of the vessels he found at Yarim Tepe:

Carinated vase from Yarim Tepe, ca. 3000-2250 BCE. Ceramic; H. 17.81 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art 63.102.10.

Not only was he a consummate excavator, but he published preliminary reports religiously, a fact for which I (and many other scholars) am extremely grateful. Moreover, his final report on Pasargadae (Oxford, 1978) is an exemplary archaeological publication. After the Iranian Revolution in 1979 he became a professor at Berkeley, where he supervised many of today’s leading archaeologists of ancient Iran. And he continued to publish. In fact, I think he published some of his best papers after 2010.

I only me Prof. Stronach once, in a burger restaurant in Santa Monica. He was a gentleman to me, and showed genuine interest in my work. I was glad to have had that opportunity to talk with him, and am very sorry at his loss.


My latest essay on Udjahorresnet, entitled “Udjahorresnet the Persian: Being an Essay on the Archaeology of Identity,” has just been published in an open access special issue of the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections. The entire issue is dedicated to Udjahorresnet, who frankly deserves the attention. I was reluctant at first to participate, because I am trying very deliberately to take my research in a somewhat different direction, not because I have anything against Egypt per se, but because I feel as if I’ve said most everything I have to say on the topic. But I decided that this special issue was a good opportunity to think hard about Achaemenid identity and its material correlates, which is in fact a topic to which Udjahorresnet’s naophorous statue speaks very clearly. In the end I am very happy with this paper, even though it is an Egyptian paper that is not about Egypt, but turns out to be about Egypt after all. I guess that’s what JAEI is for!