PROFESSOR EMERITUS DAVID STRONACH
David Stronach, OBE FSA (1931 - 2020)
The Near Eastern Studies Department is saddened to share the news that Professor Emeritus David Stronach passed away at his home in Berkeley on Saturday, June 27 at the age of 89. An expert in the art, archaeology, and culture of Ancient Iran, David joined the Berkeley faculty in 1981. David served as department chair from 1995 to 1998 and held appointments in Berkeley’s Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology Program, the Archaeological Research Facility, the Center for Middle East Studies, and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, where he was Curator of Near Eastern Archaeology. After a long and illustrious career of teaching and research, he retired from the faculty in 2007.
David Stronach was born in Nottingham, England in 1931 to Scottish parents. The son of a medical doctor, he spent his early years in the English Midlands before attending Gordonstoun in the north of Scotland. He completed his studies in archaeology and anthropology at St. John’s College at Cambridge University in 1955. In the years that followed, David worked with some of Britain’s greatest archaeologists on excavations in the Middle East, including Seton Lloyd, Max Mallowan, James Mellaart, David Oates, David Talbot Rice, and Veronica Seton-Williams. David helped found the British Institute of Persian Studies in Tehran in 1961, serving as its founding director until the 1979 Iranian Revolution. During his tenure, he conducted excavations at some of Iran’s most storied archaeological sites, including Shahr-i Qumis, Nush-i Jan, and Pasargadae, the garden capital of Achaemenid king, Cyrus the Great.
After joining the Berkeley faculty in 1981, he continued his research on Iran and conducted excavations in Israel, Iraq, and Armenia. Among his many accolades, David was appointed to the Order of the British Empire in 1975 and awarded the Archaeological Institute of America’s 2004 Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement. David remained fully engaged in research, publishing, and public speaking up until the time of his death, a testament to his commitment to the discipline. A longer tribute and intellectual biography on our dear departed colleague will appear in the coming months.
He was one of our most distinguished Department members, a true icon of Near Eastern Archaeology. We have lost a treasure and will remember him always with fondness, admiration, and great respect.
The members of the department of Near Eastern Studies