Oriental Institute

Established in 1919 with funds donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., The Oriental Institute is the University of Chicago’s archaeology museum and research center, founded to study the rise and development of Western civilization from its ancient roots in the Near East (or “Orient”).

As World War I wound down, James Henry Breasted, the first American to receive a PhD in Egyptology who also coined the term “Fertile Crescent”, seized upon an opportunity to plan a research trip through the Middle East. Artifacts from archaeological digs throughout Egypt, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran were used to form the institute’s collection, which is now housed in a unique Gothic Art-Deco building, completed in 1930.

Notable works include the Megiddo Ivories, treasures from the old Persian capital of Persepolis, Luristan Bronzes, a colossal 40-ton human-headed winged bull (below), and a large statue of King Tutankhamun (above).

In 2011, scholars finally completed and published a 21-volume Assyrian Dictionary, an effort which was first begun in 1921 by Dr. Breasted. Similar dictionaries are currently under way for Hittite and Demotic.

  • Visited: May 2013

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