Dr. Behnam Al-Souf* was Iraq’s most senior archaeologist, with a half a century of experience in the excavation and preservation of Near-Eastern civilizations. Having earned his Ph.D. in the Archaeology of Early Cultures from Cambridge, the professor spent more than 30 years as an international educator, bestowing 10,000 years of historical knowledge to students in Iraq, Yemen, Germany, Italy, and the United States. An impressive list of institutions he worked with in the US includes Harvard College, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago and the University of Houston. A self-described “lover” in the practice of archaeology, Dr. Al-Souf’s experience was by no means limited to the classroom: He acted as the director for more than 100 archaeological excavations in Iraq and an additional 50 world-wide. Some of his best known discoveries were the Throne Room at the Palace of Nimrod and the village of Tal EeSawan (dating back to 6,000 BC). He published extensively, including books and dozens of original papers on his field discoveries.
Due to his prominence as one of Iraq’s most prestigious scholars, Dr. Al-Souf faced severe threats to his security in Baghdad and was compelled to remove himself from his professional duties in order to maintain a low profile. With support from the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund and Brown University, Dr. Al-Souf was appointed to a visiting professorship in archaeology and anthropology at Brown’s Joukowsky Institute of Archaeology and the Ancient World for his unique qualifications in ancient civilizations.
While at Brown, Dr. Al-Souf actively researched, wrote, and participated in panel discussions. Dr. Al-Souf delivered his introductory public lecture on “One Man's Iraq: Ten Thousand Years of Myth and Memory.” He completed a book in Arabic, Al-Tarich Min Batin Al-Arghd (History Unearthed), which will be published in Arabic, Kurdish and English. The Joukowsky Institute assisted him with the on-line publication of a collection of his excavation results and other research done between the years of 1963 and 1985. In February 2008, Dr. Al-Souf participated in an interview (available on podcast) with media figure Christopher Lydon, a visiting fellow at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies. The discussion covered a range of topics, including the professor’s long love affair with archaeology and the state of Iraq today. Before leaving the United States, Dr. Al-Souf also gave a talk in Washington, DC at the Iraq Health Symposium.
For his second year on the IIE-SRF fellowship, Dr. Al-Souf found himself in Amman, Jordan. As a consultant to the Jordan Museum, he advised on the presentation of prehistoric topics, general archeological topics, and presentation assistance with temporary exhibits. He also assisted in the planning of museum activities in the field of archeology.
In his time in Amman, he published another book in Arabic, Readings in Archaeology and Ancient Civilizations.
*Dr. Al-Souf passed away on September 19, 2012