Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History and Archaeology of Ancient Iran, Art History
School of Humanities
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2004, Art History
Phone: (949) 824-2746
University of California, Irvine
2020 Humanities Gateway
Irvine, CA 92697
Art and Archaeology of Persia and the Ancient Iranian World; Achaemenid, Seleucid, Arsacid, Sasanian empires; Hellenistic Iran and Central Asia; Eurasian late antiquity; cross-cultural interaction; critical theory
Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Matthew P. Canepa is Professor of Art History and Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History and Archaeology of Ancient Iran at University of California, Irvine. An historian of art, archaeology and religions his research focuses on the intersection of art, ritual and power in the eastern Mediterranean, Persia and the wider Iranian world. Professor Canepa’s research interests center on the co-constituency of the built, ritual, and natural environments in creating and sustaining cultural memory, power, and identity. His most recent book is entitled The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity through Landscape, Architecture, and the Built Environment 550 BCE – 642 CE (University of California Press, 2018; paperback ed. 2020). It is a large-scale study of the transformation of Iranian cosmologies, landscapes and architecture from the height of the Achaemenids to the coming of Islam. His publications include The Two Eyes of the Earth: Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran (University of California Press, 2009; paperback ed. 2017), the first book to analyze the artistic, ritual and ideological interactions between the late Roman and Sasanian empires in a comprehensive and theoretically rigorous manner. His recent work focuses on the impact of Iranian visual and spatial cultures on the Afro-Eurasian world; a re-examination of Parthian silver and aristocratic culture; the problem of time and memory in Perso-Iranian cultures. He is the Director of UCI's Graduate Specialization in Ancient Iran and the Premodern Persianate World.
James R. Wiseman Book Award, Archaeological Institute of America (awarded to The Iranian Expanse)
James Henry Breasted Prize, American Historical Association for the best book in English on any field of history prior to the year 1000 CE (awarded to The Two Eyes of the Earth)
Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity through Landscape, Architecture, and the Built Environment (550 BCE – 642 CE). University of California Press, 2018.
The Two Eyes of the Earth: Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran. University of California Press, 2009; paperback ed. 2017.
Theorizing Cross-Cultural Interaction among the Ancient and Early Medieval Mediterranean, Near East and Asia. Ars Orientalis 38. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian, 2010.
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
Getty Research Center
American Council of Learned Societies
Council of American Overseas Research Centers
Archaeological Institute of America
Association for Iranian Studies
Directeur d’études invité
L’École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris —2016
Senior Research Fellow
Merton College, University of Oxford —2009
North American Fellow
Deutsche Archäologische Institut —2007
The Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture