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Richard Nelson Frye

Richard Nelson Frye

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Richard Nelson Frye is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 scholar of Iranic and Central Asian Studies
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, and Aga Khan
Aga Khan
Aga Khan is the hereditary title of the Imam of the largest branch of the Ismā'īlī followers of the Shī‘a faith. They affirm the Imamat of the descendants of Ismail ibn Jafar, eldest son of Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, while the larger Twelver branch of Shi`ism follows Ismail's younger brother Musa...

 Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. His professional areas of interest are Iranian philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, and the history of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 before 1000 CE.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

 to a family of immigrants from Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, "Freij" has four children, his second marriage being to an Iranian-Assyrian
Assyrians in Iran
Assyrians in Iran was a thriving community, but was diminished from around 200,000 prior to the Islamic Revolution in Iran to a mere 50,000....

 scholar, Dr. Eden Naby
Eden Naby
Eden Naby is an Assyrian cultural historian of Central Asia and the Middle East. She was born in the once important Assyrian village of Golpashan, located outside Urmia in Iran. Eden Naby has conducted research, taught and published on minority issues in countries from Turkey to Tajikistan...

, from Urmia
Urmia
- Demographics :According to official census of 2006, the population of Urmia is about 871,204.- Language :The population of Urmia is mainly Azerbaijani people, with Kurdish, Assyrian Christian, and Armenian minorities...

, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 who teaches at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. He speaks fluent Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, Uzbek
Uzbek language
Uzbek is a Turkic language and the official language of Uzbekistan. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia...

, and Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

, and has extensive knowledge of Avestan, Pahlavi, Sogdian
Sogdian language
The Sogdian language is a Middle Iranian language that was spoken in Sogdiana , located in modern day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan ....

, and other Iranian languages and dialects, both extinct and current.

Career



Frye first attended the University of Illinois
University of Illinois system
The University of Illinois is a system of public universities in Illinois consisting of three campuses: Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield. Across its three campuses, the University of Illinois enrolls about 70,000 students. It had an operating budget of $4.17 billion in 2007.-System:The...

, where he received an BA in history and philosophy in 1939. He received his MA from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 in 1940 and his PhD from Harvard in 1946, in Asiatic history
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

.

Frye served with the Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He was stationed in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and traveled extensively in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, and South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

.

He returned to Harvard to teach. He was a member of the Harvard faculty from 1948 until 1990. He is now a professor emeritus at Harvard. He has also served as faculty, guest lecturer, or visiting scholar at:
  • Habibiya College in Kabul
    Kabul
    Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

     (1942-44)
  • Frankfurt University
    Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main
    The Goethe University Frankfurt was founded in 1914 as a Citizens' University, which means that, while it was a State university of Prussia, it had been founded and financed by the wealthy and active liberal citizenry of Frankfurt am Main, a unique feature in German university history...

     (1959-60)
  • Hamburg University (1968-69)
  • Pahlavi University of Shiraz
    Shiraz, Iran
    Shiraz is the sixth most populous city in Iran and is the capital of Fars Province, the city's 2009 population was 1,455,073. Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the Roodkhaneye Khoshk seasonal river...

     (1970-76)
  • University of Tajikistan (1990-92).


Professor Frye helped found the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard, the first Iranian studies
Iranian Studies
Iranian studies , is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the study of history, literature, art and culture of the Iranian people. It is a part of the wider field of Oriental studies....

 program in America. He also served as Director of the Asia Institute in Shiraz
Shiraz, Iran
Shiraz is the sixth most populous city in Iran and is the capital of Fars Province, the city's 2009 population was 1,455,073. Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the Roodkhaneye Khoshk seasonal river...

 (1970-1975), was on the Board of Trustees of the Pahlavi University at Shiraz
Shiraz, Iran
Shiraz is the sixth most populous city in Iran and is the capital of Fars Province, the city's 2009 population was 1,455,073. Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the Roodkhaneye Khoshk seasonal river...

 (1974-78), and Chairman, Committee on Inner Asian Studies, at Harvard (1983-89), and as Editor of the Bulletin of the Asia Institute (1970-1975 and 1987-99).

Among Frye's students were Annemarie Schimmel
Annemarie Schimmel
Annemarie Schimmel, SI, HI, was a well known and very influential German Orientalist and scholar, who wrote extensively on Islam and Sufism. She was a professor at Harvard University from 1967 to 1992.-Early life:...

, Oleg Grabar
Oleg Grabar
Oleg Grabar was a French-born art historian and archeologist, who spent most of his career in the United States, as a leading figure in the field of Islamic art and architecture.-Academic career:...

, Frank Huddle (former US Ambassador to Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

), John Limbert
John Limbert
Ambassador John W. Limbert is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. He is a veteran U.S. diplomat and a former official at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where he was held captive during the Iran hostage...

, and Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
John Michael Crichton , best known as Michael Crichton, was an American best-selling author, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work in the science fiction, medical fiction, and thriller genres. His books have sold over 200 million copies worldwide, and many have been adapted...

, whose Hollywood film The 13th Warrior
The 13th Warrior
The 13th Warrior is a 1999 historical fiction action film starring Antonio Banderas as Ahmad ibn Fadlan and Vladimir Kulich as Buliwyf; it is based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton. It was directed by John McTiernan and an uncredited Crichton.The 13th Warrior is regarded as a...

 is loosely based on Frye's translation of Ibn Fadlan's account of his travels up the river Volga.

Frye was also directly responsible for inviting Iranian scholars as distinguished visiting fellows to Harvard University, under a fellowship program initiated by Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

. Examples of such guests include Mehdi Haeri Yazdi
Mehdi Haeri Yazdi
Mehdi Haeri Yazdi was a prominent Shia Islamic cleric in Iran and the first son of Sheikh Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi, the founder of Qom seminary and teacher of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who became the leader of the Iranian Revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.-Background:Mehdi...

 (1923–1999), Sadegh Choubak, Jalal al Ahmad, and others.

Frye as a proponent of Persian culture



Frye felt that Persian civilization was under-appreciated by other Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s, and Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 Muslims in particular. Frye wrote:
"Arabs no longer understand the role of Iran and the Persian language in the formation of Islamic culture. Perhaps they wish to forget the past, but in so doing they remove the bases of their own spiritual, moral and cultural being…without the heritage of the past and a healthy respect for it…there is little chance for stability and proper growth."
(R. N. Frye, The Golden Age of Persia, London: Butler & Tanner Ltd., 1989, page 236)


Iranians responded enthusiastically to his appreciation.

In August 1953, shortly before the fall of Mosaddegh, prominent Iranian linguist Ali Akbar Dehkhoda
Ali Akbar Dehkhoda
Allameh Ali Akbar Dehkhoda was a prominent Iranian linguist, and author of the most extensive dictionary of the Persian language ever published.-Biography:...

 gave Frye the title: "Irandoost" (meaning "a friend of Iran").

A ceremony was held in Iran on June 27, 2004 to pay tribute to the six-decade endeavors of Professor Frye on his lifetime contribution to Iranian Studies
Iranian Studies
Iranian studies , is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the study of history, literature, art and culture of the Iranian people. It is a part of the wider field of Oriental studies....

, research work on the Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, and the history and culture of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

In his will, Professor Frye has expressed his wish to be buried next to the Zayandeh River in Isfahan
Isfahan (city)
Isfahan , historically also rendered in English as Ispahan, Sepahan or Hispahan, is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 km south of Tehran. It has a population of 1,583,609, Iran's third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad...

. This request was approved by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in September 2007.
Two other American scholars of Iranian Studies, Arthur Pope
Arthur Pope
Arthur Upham Pope , was an American archaeologist and historian of Persian art.Born in Phenix, Rhode Island, graduated from Worcester Academy in 1899, and taught at Amherst College and the University of California. He married fellow Persian art historian, Phyllis Ackerman, in 1920. In 1923, Pope...

 and Phyllis Ackerman, are already buried there.
In 2010, a house in Isfahan
Isfahan (city)
Isfahan , historically also rendered in English as Ispahan, Sepahan or Hispahan, is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 km south of Tehran. It has a population of 1,583,609, Iran's third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad...

 was gifted by Iranian government to Professor Frye in recognition of his services to Iranian studies.

Frye as a public speaker


Frye is a popular public speaker at numerous Iran-related gatherings. In 2005, he spoke at UCLA
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

, encouraging the Iranians present to cherish their culture and identity. In 2004, he spoke at an architectural conference in Tehran, expressing his dismay at hasty modernization that ignores the beauties of traditional Iranian architectural styles (see Architecture of Tehran
Architecture of Tehran
Tehran is a relatively old city. As such, it has an architectural tradition unique to itself.Despite the occurrence of earthquakes during the Qajar period and before, some build...

).

See also


  • Famous Americans in Iran
  • Iranistics
    Iranian Studies
    Iranian studies , is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the study of history, literature, art and culture of the Iranian people. It is a part of the wider field of Oriental studies....



Other notable scholars of Iranian Studies:
  • Mehrdad Bahar
    Mehrdad Bahar
    Mehrdād Bahār was a prominent Iranist, linguist, mythologist and Persian historian.Mehrdad Bahar, was the youngest son of Persian poet Mohammad Taghi Bahar. He held a PhD degree in Persian literature and Ancient Iranian languages from Tehran University...

  • Mary Boyce
    Mary Boyce
    Nora Elisabeth Mary Boyce was a British scholar of Iranian languages, and an authority on Zoroastrianism...

  • Roman Ghirshman
    Roman Ghirshman
    Roman Ghirshman was a Ukrainian-born French archeologist who specialized in ancient Iran.A native of Kharkiv, Ghirshman moved to Paris in 1917 to study Archeology and Ancient Languages...

  • Michael Roaf
    Michael Roaf
    Michael Roaf is a British archeologist, who specialized in ancient Iranian studies and Assyriology. He studied archaeology of Western Asia at the University College of London, and wrote his doctoral thesis, Sculptures and Sculptors at Persepolis at Oxford. From 1981 to 1985 he was director of the...

  • James R. Russell
    James R. Russell
    James Robert Russell is a scholar and professor in Ancient Near Eastern, Iranian and Armenian Studies. He has published extensively in journals, and has written several books....

  • Erich Schmidt
    Erich Schmidt
    Erich Friedrich Schmidt was a German and American-naturalized archaeologist, born in Baden-Baden. He specialized in Ancient Near East Archaeology, and became professor emeritus at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.When he was young, he fought in the World War I, and was captured...

  • Alireza Shapour Shahbazi
    Alireza Shapour Shahbazi
    Alireza Shapour Shahbazi was a prominent Persian archeologist, Iranologist and a world expert on Achaemenid archeology. Alireza Shahbazi got a BA degree in and an MA degree in East Asian archeology from SOAS. Shahbazi had a doctorate degree in Achaemenid archeology from University of London...

  • David Stronach
    David Stronach
    David Stronach is a Scottish archeologist of ancient Iran and Iraq. He is currently a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.Stronach is a leading Western expert on the city of Pasargadae. He obtained an Master of Arts from Cambridge University in 1958. In the 1960s and 1970s he was...

  • Ahmad Tafazzoli
    Ahmad Tafazzoli
    Dr. Ahmad Tafazzoli was a prominent Persian Iranist and master of ancient Iranian literature and culture. Professor Tafazzoli was a faculty member of Tehran University....

  • Ehsan Yarshater
    Ehsan Yarshater
    Ehsan Yarshater is the founder and director of The Center for Iranian Studies, and Hagop Kevorkian Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at Columbia University. He was the first full-time professor of Persian at a U.S. university since World War II....

  • Abdolhossein Zarrinkoub

External links