Professor Dr. Louis Vanden Berghe
Louis Vanden Berghe was born on 24 December 1923 in Oostnieuwerke in West Flanders. He studied near eastern archaeology and the history of art at the University of Gent and oriental languages at the universities of Brussels, Amsterdam and Leiden, becoming remarkably fluent in modern Persian. Having gained his doctorate in 1950 with a thesis on prehistoric painted pottery he joined the University of Gent as an assistant, being given a chair in 1965. His first major task was to introduce some semblance of order into the teaching of Iranian archaeology and history and his Archéologie de l'Iran Ancien (1959) provided a structure for the subject, surveying it first by region and then by period from prehistoric to Sasanian times. This was soon followed by the establishment, with R. Ghirshman, of a new journal, Iranica Antiqua in 1961, and by Bibliographie analytique de l'archéologie de l'Iran Ancien (1979), supplements to which appeared in 1981 and 1987. Excavation was just as important as teaching and Vanden Berghe is perhaps best known for his work in Luristan where, for fifteen seasons between 1965 and 1979, he worked in the Pusht-i Kuh, virgin territory archaeologically-speaking. Bronzes from the area are found in many international collections but almost nothing is known about the culture which produced them and Vanden Berghe's work has gone some way towards remedying this deficiency. But his excavations were not restricted to Luristan; he surveyed the Marv Dasht Plain in the 1950s, excavated the necropolis at Khurvin, an Achaemenid tomb at Buzpar in Fars and discovered an ancient road connecting Firuzabad and Siraf. The value of exhibitions in promoting Iranian archaeology was soon recognized and he organized major displays about Luristan in Munich (1981), Gent (1983) and St Petersburg (1992). Many honours came to Vanden Berghe during his lifetime: particularly gratifying were the honorary doctorate from the University of Teheran, awarded as early as 1964, and the two-volume Festschrift, Archaeologia Iranica et Orientalis: Miscellanea in honorem Louis Vanden Berghe, which his colleague, Dr Ernie Haerinck, jointly with Professor L. de Meyer, edited in his honour in 1989. In the last year of his life, despite failing eyesight, Vanden Berghe attended the 1993 Lukonin Memorial Seminar at the British Museum on `Later Mesopotamia and Iran, c
1600-539 B.C.' to which he contributed a paper, although he could not deliver it himself. It was a fitting occasion for his British colleagues to say goodbye to one who had always been a generous friend. He died on 17 September 1993.