Open main menu

Encyclopædia Iranica is a project whose goal is to create a comprehensive and authoritative English language encyclopedia about the history, culture, and civilization of Iranian peoples from prehistory to modern times.

Encyclopædia Iranica
Author1300 named contributors
CountryUnited States
SubjectIranistics and Greater Iran studies
GenreReference encyclopedia
PublisherEncyclopædia Iranica Foundation
Publication date
Media type45 hardback volumes
15 volumes and 2 fascicles have been published by 2016.[1]


The Encyclopædia Iranica is dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the wider Middle East, the Caucasus, Europe, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The academic reference work will eventually cover all aspects of Iranian history and culture as well as all Iranian languages and literatures, facilitating the whole range of Iranian studies research from archeology to political sciences. It is a project founded by Ehsan Yarshater in 1973 and currently carried out at Columbia University’s Center for Iranian Studies.[2][3] It is considered the standard encyclopedia of the academic discipline of Iranistics.[4]

The scope of the encyclopedia goes beyond modern Iran (also known as "Persia") and encompasses the entire Iranian cultural sphere, and far beyond. Relations of the Iranian world with other cultures (China, European countries, etc.) are also covered.[5][6]

The project has published 15 printed volumes and a half of the 16th volume, and is planning on publishing a total of up to 45 volumes. Encyclopædia Iranica is sponsored and published by the Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation. The full text of most entries is available free for on-line viewing. In a 2013 interview with BBC Persian, Yarshater stated that the completion of the project is scheduled for 2020.[7]


Ehsan Yarshater was the Founding Editor of Encyclopædia Iranica from 1973 through 2017. The current editor-in-chief is Elton Daniel. The editorial board includes, Mohsen Ashtiany, Mahnaz Moazami, and over 40 consulting editors from major international institutions doing research in Iranian Studies.[8] Former long tenured editors include Ahmad Ashraf, Christopher Brunner, Habib Borjian, Kioumars Ghereghlou, Manuchehr Kasheff, Dagmar Riedel and Houra Yavari. A growing number (over 1,300 in 2016) of scholars worldwide have contributed articles to Encyclopædia Iranica.[9]


On March 25, 2007, the Associated Press released a news report about Encyclopædia Iranica, claiming that it is "U.S.-backed".[10] Encyclopædia Iranica published an official response, saying the report was "inaccurate and libelous", that while the National Endowment for the Humanities supports the encyclopedia, the Endowment is "an independent federal agency whose many projects are reviewed and decided upon by independent panels of scholars", not the U.S. Government, and that only a third of the encyclopedia's budget is supplied by the Endowment, not half, as the Associated Press had claimed.[11]

Many foundations, organizations, and individuals have supported Encyclopædia Iranica. The encyclopaedia has been sponsored since 1979 by the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the American Council of Learned Societies, Union Académique Internationale, Iran Heritage Foundation, and many other charitable foundations, philanthropic families and individuals.[12]


In a review of Volume III, Richard W. Bulliet calls Encyclopædia Iranica "not just a necessity for Iranists [but] of inestimable value for everyone concerned with the history and culture of the Middle East".[13] Ali Banuazizi, though, notes that its focus is on Iran "as perceived, analyzed, and described by its most distinguished, mainly Western, students".[14] In 1998, the journal Iranian Studies devoted a double issue (vol. 31, no. 3/4) to reviews of the encyclopædia, coming to 700 pages by 29 authors on as many subjects.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Citing the Encyclopedia Iranica". Encyclopedia Iranica. 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  2. ^ "Iranicaonline". Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  3. ^ Banuazizi, Ali (1990). "Review of Encyclopædia Iranica by Ehsan Yarshater". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 22 (3): 370–373. doi:10.1017/s0020743800034279. JSTOR 164148.
  4. ^ "Praise from Scholars Worldwide". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  5. ^ Boss, Shira J. (November 2003). "Encyclopedia Iranica". Columbia College Today. Archived from the original on 2016-10-18. Retrieved 2016-07-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ Trompf, Garry W. (2008). "Encyclopedia Iranica - 35: A New Agenda for Persian Studies?". Iran & the Caucasus. 12 (2): 385–395. doi:10.1163/157338408X406137. JSTOR 25597382.
  7. ^ "چمدان: احسان یارشاطر 'هرگز' به ایران باز نمی‌گردد". BBC Persian. 2013-07-04. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  8. ^ "About Iranica". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  9. ^ "Authors". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  10. ^ "U.S.-funded encyclopedia revels in Iran's greatness". CTV. 2007-03-26. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2016-07-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ Ashraf, Ahmad (2007-04-05). "Official response of the Encyclopaedia Iranica to the Associated Press article of March 25, 2007 entitled "U.S.-funded encyclopedia revels in Iran's greatness"" (PDF). Encyclopedia Iranica. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-12-02. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ "Sponsors". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  13. ^ Bulliet, Richard W. (1992). "Review of Encyclopædia Iranica by Ehsan Yarshater". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 24 (4): 680. JSTOR 164443.
  14. ^ Banuazizi (1990), p. 372.
  15. ^ "Review of the Encyclopedia Iranica". Iranian Studies. 31 (3/4). 1998. ISSN 0021-0862. JSTOR i401469.

External linksEdit