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Art/ Libraries and Research Centers/ Thomas J. Watson Library Digital Collections/ Manuscript Collections/ Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Ernst Herzfeld Papers

Detail of a page with two geometric sketches

Ernst Emil Herzfeld (1879-1948) was a German archaeologist, philologist, geographer and historian in the field of Near Eastern Studies. A formidable figure in Central European scholarship during the early twentieth century, his major contributions include archaeological excavations at Samarra (Iraq), Pasargadae, Persepolis and Kuh-i Khwaja (Iran); architectural surveys of Damascus, Northern Syria, and Mesopotamia; mapping of remote regions in Kurdistan (Iraq and Iran); and recording and publishing architectural inscriptions in Arabic and Middle Persian.

The Ernst Herzfeld Papers housed in the Metropolitan Museum are divided between the Department of Islamic Art and the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. The museum’s holdings consist of several thousand items from Herzfeld's archives, including photograph negatives, photographs, original drawings and paintings, clippings, correspondence, maps, sketchbooks, notebooks, squeezes and manuscripts of scholarly work. These materials span Herzfeld’s professional career from his collegiate studies in Berlin (1899-1902) to his residence as a senior scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1936-1944). Items document both original findings and synthetic research pertaining to sites and monuments in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, India and Egypt. While representing only part of his archive, the Metropolitan Museum's holdings are integral to understanding Herzfeld's scholarly career.

Guide to the Ernst Herzfeld Papers in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art
Guide to the Ernst Herzfeld Papers in the Department of Islamic Art

Cataloging and digitizing the Ernst Herzfeld Papers is a collaborative project between the following departments within The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ancient Near Eastern Art, Digital, Islamic Art, Museum Archives, and the Thomas J. Watson Library. Project members: Charmaine Branch, Rafaela Brosnan, Claire Brown, Claire Elias, Robyn Fleming, Ilana Grady, Kate Justement, Tina Lidogoster, Cristina Linclau, Rebecca Lindsey, Dan Lipcan, James Moske, Michelle Pandolfo, Daisy Paul, Yelena Rakic, Matthew Saba, Daira Szostak, and Sylvia Wu.

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Above: Damascus (Syria): Nur al-Din Bimaristan (al-Bimaristan al-Nuri).