The Archaeological Institute of America has awarded its 2020 James R. Wiseman Book Award to UCI art history and visual studies professor Matthew P. Canepa, the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History and Archaeology of Ancient Iran, for his book, The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity through Architecture, Landscape, and the Built Environment, 550 BCE – 642 CE (University of California Press, 2018). The AIA bestows the Wiseman award on the academic work on an archaeological topic that it deems the most worthy of recognition each year.
In The Iranian Expanse, Canepa explores over 1,000 years of art and archaeological history, from the Achaemenid period to the arrival of Islam and elucidates the formation of Iran’s most important religious and royal traditions, including sacred spaces, palaces, and paradise gardens. In doing so the book offers a radically new theoretical approach to understanding how natural, urban and architectonic spaces form, sustain and manipulate conceptions of the past and cultural identity with implications beyond ancient Near Eastern Studies. Peter Brown, Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University, wrote in his review of Canepa’s book for The New York Review of Books:
"Matthew Canepa’s The Iranian Expanse is a highly original study of the manner in which the succession of rulers of Iran, from the time of the Achaemenids (550–330 BCE) to that of the Sasanians (224–651 CE), manipulated collective memory through the creation of stunning monuments at important locations in their empires.”
“I am deeply honored to see my work recognized in this way, especially by an organization as important to discipline as the Archaeological Institute of America,” said Canepa.
The award will be presented in Washington D.C. on January 4, 2020 in a ceremony at the Archaeological Institute of America's annual meeting.