AIA Lecturer/Host: Margaret Cool Root

Professor of Near Eastern and Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Michigan

Archaeological Institute of America lecturer and host Margaret Cool Root is Professor of Near Eastern and Classical Art and Archaeology in the Department of the History of Art and the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Michigan. She is also Curator of Ancient Near Eastern and Greek Antiquities at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Her research focuses on the art and archaeology of the Persian Empire and also on its complex interactions with ancient Greece.
Dr. Root delights in the Iranian land and people, seeing connections with the landscapes, ecologies, ethnographies, and deep traditions of Iran in more recent times as essential backdrops to her own archaeological endeavors on antiquity. Her work in Iranian studies includes a long list of articles as well as numerous books, book chapters, and edited volumes. Her now-classic first book, The King and Kingship in Achaemenid Art: Essays on the Creation of an Iconography of Empire (1979), began a career that continues to explore the Persian Empire in ways that radically readjust our understanding of the significance of Iran in relation to the social history of the ancient world much more broadly. Dr. Root has won many research grants and awards for her scholarship, including a Guggenheim. She is well-known for her interrogations across a variety of media from the glorious architecture and sculpture of the imperial capital of Persepolis, to precious royal tableware, to the small-scale evidence offered by seals used on administrative documents.
Along with several scholarly publications on Persepolis that are nearing completion, Dr. Root is finishing a book for general readers called Handbook to Life in the Persian Empire, for the Facts on File series. A recent exhibition at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is entitled “This Fertile Land: Signs + Symbols in the Early Arts of Iran and Iraq,” with an accompanying book by the same title (2005). In this work she deals with the extraordinary tradition of late prehistoric art and community expression centered on the Zagros region straddling Iraq and Iran, incorporating excavated material from the Louvre and the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Kelsey Museum.
She has long been active in the Archaeological Institute of America, having been President of the Ann Arbor local society (1979-84), contributed several articles to the American Journal of Archaeology and Archaeology magazine, and lectured on the AIA’s national lecture circuit and for numerous special local engagements, most recently to the Boulder, CO and Toledo, OH societies in 2008 and 2009. She has led previous study tours to Iran, including a successful AIA tour in 2005, and works with Iranian scholars on collaborative projects.