Louis Vanden Berghe Archive Collection
Louis Vanden Berghe (1923-1993) is a Belgian archaeologist who devoted almost all his research to Iran’s history. After obtaining his doctorate in 1950, he immediately went to Iran, where he spent the academic year 1950-51. He was the first Belgian student to be granted a research scholarship by the Iranian Government. This trip was his first contact with the Near East and at the same time it gave a determining direction to his research. From then onwards he concentrated almost all his research on Iran. From the first years of his career, he started archaeological surveys in the Fars region but his scientific work reaches its peak with the numerous excavations campaigns which he led in the Luristan region between 1965 and 1979.
Louis Vanden Berghe archive collecion (Fonds)
Dates of creation of material:
Luristan excavation team (Dir. L. Vanden Berghe)
24 boxes, 12 slide boxes, 5 negative boxes
The fonds regroups the archive collection of Louis Vanden Berghe. The collection is divided in 40 sub-fonds made up of the excavation archives of various Iranian archaeological sites
Royal Museum for Art and History, Brussels
For research purpose only
Copyright restrictions may apply
Source of acquisition:
Fonds, sub-fonds, series and file level descriptions created by V. Van der Stede (April 2014, January 2015)
Fars Survey/Excavations (1951-1964)
After obtaining his doctorate in 1950, Louis Vanden Berghe immediately went to Iran, where he spent the academic year 1950-51. He was the first Belgian student to be granted a research scholarship by the Iranian Government. This trip was his first contact with the Near East, and at the same time it gave a determining direction to his research. During Vanden Berghe’s stay in Iran, André Godard, then director general of the Iranian Archaeological Department, asked him to undertake an archaeological survey of the Persepolis plain. In summer 1951 (first survey), he travelled alone through the southern part of the Marv Dašt plain and undertook small soundings at Tall-e Jāri, Tall-e Moški, and Tall-e Čogā. In the summer of 1952 he returned to Fārs and surveyed the northern parts (second survey). Some soundings were done at Tall-e Qalʿa, Tall-e Kamin, and several other sites. These two surveys allowed him to sketch a chronological chart of prehistoric development in Fārs province.
Since he was appointed at Ghent in 1953 and necessarily had to prepare his courses, he only returned to Iran in the winter of 1954, where he undertook some excavations from 26 November to 5 December at Ḵorvin, approximately 80 km northwest of Tehran. Due to bad weather and snow, he only excavated 14 tombs of the Early Iron Age. The third Fārs survey was conducted in the winter of 1955-56, with excavations at Tall-e Teymurān, Tall-e Kamin, and Tall-e Qalʿa. During the fourth Fārs survey (18 May-19 June 1957), Vanden Berghe visited the rock carving at Guyum, which had been discovered by Ernst Herzfeld in 1926. Undoubtedly, the most impressive result of this survey was the discovery of the fire temple of Tang-e Čak Čak, between Rostāq and Furg. Between 23 December 1959 and 24 February 1960, a fifth field trip was undertaken in southern Iran. Again, several Sasanian monuments were discovered. By following the ancient road between Firuzābād and Sirāf, the present-day Bandar-e Ṭāheri on the Persian Gulf coast, he discovered the impressive fire temple complex at Kunār Siāh, with well-preserved architecture. A sixth Fārs expedition (18 November 1960-17 January 1961) led to the discovery of four fire temples. However, the most sensational discovery of that season was the freestanding house-like tomb at Buzpar, which resembles the tomb of Cyrus II at Pasargadae, but is smaller in size. The seventh survey took Vanden Berghe back to Fārs and into eastern Ḵuzestān (29 July-1 October 1962). Again, important monuments and inscriptions were discovered. His stay at Malāmir proved particularly fruitful; he was the first to photograph the Elamite and Elymaean rock carvings (particularly Hang-e Nowruzi) in that region. During the eighth campaign (14 May-30 August 1964) he traveled on mule through ancient Elymais, in the Baḵtiāri mountains. He visited and recorded all major rock carvings, and discovered two additional ones at Kuh-e Tinā and Kuh-e Ṭarāz. In sum, the eight surveys that he undertook, mainly in Fārs and eastern Ḵuzestān, produced major discoveries of early pottery assemblages, as well as monuments of later date.
Luristan Excavations (1965-1979)
Between 1965 and 1979, Louis Vanden Berghe (1923-1993) directed 15 joint expeditions in the Pusht-i Kuh region in the Zagros mountains of western Iran.
The objective of these expeditions was to expose large areas of undisturbed graveyards and to obtain first hand field information on the Luristan Bronze Culture. The excavated graveyards belonged to different periods and dated from the Chalcolithic (fifth - beginning fourth mill.), the Bronze Age (end fourth - middle second mill.) and the Iron Age (middle second mill. - 600 BCE).
L. Vanden Berghe (Fonds) record