Story of Iranian Studies at the University of Göttingen
Friedrich Carl Andreas
Even as early as the 19th century, there were orientalists working at the University of Göttingen (e.g. Paul de Lagarde) who were among other things, focused on Iranian culture and history. The history of Iranian studies in the true sense began at the University of Göttingen in 1903 with the appointment of Friedrich Carl Andreas to the "Chair of West Asian Languages". Andreas was married to the writer Lou Andreas-Salomé, who also became known for having a relationship with Nietzsche, Rilke, and Sigmund Freud. His theory on the tradition of the Avesta (that it had already been recorded in "Arsacid", i.e. Parthian times, and that this "original version" could be reconstructed in writing based on the available, much later written manuscripts) dominated the discussion for decades before it was finally refuted. In his research, Andreas dealt with a wide range of Iranian topics and areas, including modern Iranian dialectology and the Middle Iranian language materials discovered in the Turfan oasis at the beginning of the 20th century. He published little, but his students, from whose circle several important Iranists emerged (including W. B. Henning, and W. Lentz), published some of Andreas' preparatory work after his death.
Walther Hinz was the second Iranist appointed as a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Göttingen in 1937. His habilitation thesis Irans Aufstieg zum Nationalstaat im 15. Jahrhundert (1936) (Iran's Rise to a Nation-State in the 15th Century) formed the starting point for modern research into the Safavid period of Iranian history. After the Second World War, Hinz had to take on a position outside academia due to his involvement in the Third Reich.
Hans Heinrich Schaeder
In 1946, Hans Heinrich Schaeder became the third Iranist to be appointed Professor of Oriental Philology and Religious Studies in Göttingen. Schaeder was a "polymath" and an extraordinary range of topics characterizes his work. His work on the history of religion and writing in pre-Islamic Iran and on the influence of the Persian poet Hafiz on Goethe remains compelling to this day. After Schaeder's untimely death, Walther Hinz was able to resume the Chair of Oriental Philology in 1957. He then turned his attention increasingly to the study of pre-Islamic Iran. Hinz's further works - which are also a testimony to the range and originality of his works- especially on Elamite, an important administrative language of the Achaemenid Empire, were remarkable and fundamental. Hinz also wrote a series of books (e.g. on the religious founder Zarathustra), which found a wider audience. One of Hinz's last publications again deals with a topic of the Islamic era (Islamische Währungen umgerechnet in Gold, 1991).
Under Hinz's aegis, the department underwent significant expansion and diversification regarding personnel. Hinz succeeded in establishing professorships for Arabic and Turkish Studies to be added in addition to his chair. Finally, in 1972, the archaeologist Klaus Schippmann, the author of a reference book on Die iranischen Feuerheiligtümer (1971) (The Iranian fire shrines), was awarded a professorship on “Near Eastern Archaeology” (with a special focus on Iran), which was affiliated to the department. Schippmann's later works include reference works concerning introductions to Parthian and Sassanid history (1980 and 1990 respectively). Unfortunately, after Schippmann's emeritus (1989), his professorship was cut back by the Ministry of Science and Education due to a lack of funds.
David Neil MacKenzie
After Hinz's emeritus, the linguist David Neil MacKenzie was appointed to the now-renamed Chair of Iranian Studies in 1975. His work testifies to his mastery of the entire Iranian language material and great accuracy in linguistic and philological detail. MacKenzie's Kurdish Dialect Studies (1961) still form the basis for research into Kurdish today. His Concise Pahlavi Dictionary (1971) has set the standard for the study of Middle Persian (Zoroastrian) texts to this day. MacKenzie has also written fundamental text editions and linguistic works on other Iranian languages such as Pashto, Soghdian, and Khorezmian.
After MacKenzie's emeritus (1994), Philip G. Kreyenbroek (until then employed at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS) was appointed to the department in 1996. His research focused on the oral tradition of Iranian literature and religion. Important publications include Sraoša in the Zoroastrian Tradition (1985), and Yezidism: Its Background, Observances and Textual Tradition (1995), as well as numerous articles on Zoroastrianism, oral literature, and the Kurds. He worked with the Zoroastrian priest Dr. F. M. Kotwal on an edition and translation of Herbedestan and Nerangestan, of which four volumes have been published (1992, 1995, 2003, and 2009). Kreyenbroek's teaching included both ancient and modern Iranian studies, such as Avestan, Pahlavi, Persian, Kurdish, Pashto, Zoroastrianism, Sufism, and Yezidism.