Matthew P Canepa

Contact Me

Prof. Canepa is now the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History and Archaeology of Ancient Iran at University of California, Irvine. While he will continue to serve in the capacity of affiliated faculty for advanced graduate students at UMN, prospective graduate students interested in pursuing doctoral work in the art and archaeology of Persia and the ancient Iranian world should contact him at University of California, Irvine:

UMN's Art History and Classical Near Eastern Studies programs will no longer be accepting graduate students in ancient art and archaeology going forward.

Educational Background & Specialties


  • Art and Archaeology of Persia and the Ancient Iranian World
  • Art and Archaeology of Hellenistic Western and South Asia
  • Art and Archaeology of the Late Roman-Early Byzantine Empire
  • Art and Ritual of Power in the Ancient, Early Medieval World
  • Cross-Cultural Interaction
  • Archaeologies of Landcape, Memory and the Built and Natural Environment
  • Cognitive Archaeology
  • Law, Ethics of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage
Courses Taught
  • ARTH 8190 - Issues in Ancient Art and Archaeology. Graduate Seminar (topics vary, recent seminars include: "Archaeologies of Iranian Empires" and "Understanding Images and Environments of Power.")
  • ARTH 5192 - Art of Persia and the Ancient Iranian World: art and archaeology of the Achaemenid, Arsacid, and Sasanian empires.
  • ARTH 5115 - Hellenistic Asia and the Iranian East: art and archaeology of Hellenistic, Scythian, Parthian, Kushan and Sogdian Asia.
  • ARTH 5113 - Art Law. Cultural Heritage after Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan: legal and ethical debates in art history, archaeology, museum studies, and the art market.
  • ARTH 5786 Theorizing City and Space in the Mediterranean and Western Asia
  • ARTH 5188 - Late Roman-Byzantine Art and Archaeology
  • ARTH 3182 - Art and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt and Western Asia (undergraduate survey, AH and GP LibEd)
  • ARTH 3162 - Roman Art and Archaeology (undergraduate survey, HIS LibEd))
  • ARTH 3152 - Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece (undergraduate survey, HIS LibEd)
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Ancient Iranian Rock Reliefs and Inscriptions Project: Developing project in collaboration with University of Kiel, University of Innsbruck and University of Tehran. , June 2017


  • 'The Iranian Expanse: Architecture, Urbanism, Landscape and Cosmology in Iranian Western Asia (550 BCE – 642 CE).': A book-length study of the transformation of Iranian identity and cultural memory through the natural, urban and built environments. Project awarded fellowships from the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI) and American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)
  • Work in Progress- Royal Glory, Divine Fortune: Kingship in Iran between Alexander and Islam (330 BCE-642 CE): A book examining of the development of art, architecture and ritual of Iranian kingship in the Middle Iranian period. Project supported by the Getty Research Institute and the Guggenheim Foundation
  • Work in Progress- Persia and the Ancient Iranian World: Art and Archaeology of Iran from the Achemenids to the Sasanians (under contract with University of California Press): The first intensive study of the art and archaeology of pre-Islamic Iran published in decades.
  • Canepa, Matthew P. The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity through Architecture, Landscape, and the Built Environment, 550 BCE–642 CE. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Canepa, Matthew P. The Two Eyes of the Earth: Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 45. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.
  • Canepa, Matthew P. ed. Theorizing Cross-Cultural Interaction among the Ancient and Early Medieval Mediterranean, Near East and Asia Ars Orientalis 38. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian, 2010.
  • Persia and the Ancient Iranian World: Art and Archaeology of Iran from the Achaemenians to Sasanians. Canepa, Matthew, Berkeley: University of California Press, Author, [under contract].
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Theorizing Cross-Cultural Interaction Among Ancient and Early Medieval Visual Cultures.." Theorizing Cross Cultural Interaction, ed. M. Canepa Ars Orientalis 38 (2010): 7-19. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Distant Displays of Power: Understanding Cross-Cultural Interaction Among the Elites of Rome, Sasanian Iran, and Sui-Tang China." Theorizing Cross Cultural Interaction, ed. M. Canepa Ars Orientalis 38 (2010): 121-54. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Technologies of Memory In Early Sasanian Iran: Achaemenid Sites and Sasanian Identity." American Journal of Archaeology 114.4 (2010): 563-96. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Achaemenid and Seleukid Royal Funerary Practices and Middle Iranian Kingship." Commutatio et Contentio. Studies in the Late Roman, Sasanian, and Early Islamic Near East in Memory of Zeev Rubin (2010): 1-21. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "The Art and Ritual of Manichaean Magic: Text, Object and Image from the Mediterranean to Central Asia." Objects in Motion: The Circulation of Religion and Sacred Objects in the Late Antique and Byzantine World (2011): 73-88. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "The Transformation of Sacred Space, Topography and Royal Ritual in Persia and the Ancient Iranian World." Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, and Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World (2013): Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Sasanian Rock Reliefs." Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran (2013): 856-77. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Building a New Vision of the Past in the Sasanian Empire: the Sanctuary of Lake Kayansih and the Great Fires of Iran." Journal of Persianate Studies 5 (2013): 69-94. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Topographies of Power: Theorizing the Visual, Spatial and Ritual Contexts of Rock Reliefs in Ancient Iran." Of Rocks and Water: Towards an Archaeology of Place (2014): 53-92. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Seleukid Sacred Architecture, Royal Cult and the Transformation of Iranian Culture in the Middle Iranian Period." Iranian Studies (2014): 1-27. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Textiles and Elite Tastes between the Mediterranean, Iran and Asia at the End of Antiquity." Gobal Textile Encounters (2014): 1-15. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Dynastic Sanctuaries and the Transformation of Iranian Kingship between Alexander and Islam." Of Architecture and Kingship: Strategies of Power in Iran from the Achaemenids to the Pahlavis (2015): 65-117. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Inscriptions, Royal Spaces and Iranian Identity: Epigraphic Practices in Persia and the Ancient Iranian World." Viewing Inscriptions in the Late Antique and Medieval World (2015): 10-35. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Emperor." Late Ancient Knowing: Explorations in Intellectual History (2015): Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Bronze Sculpture in the Hellenistic East." Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World (2015): 82-93. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Rival Images of Iranian Kingship and Persian Identity in Post-Achaemenid Western Asia." Persianisms in Antiquity (2017): 200-222. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Methodological and Historiographical Notes on the ‘Paradise’ as an Iranian Royal Institution.." DABIR 1.3 (2017): 39-43. Link
  • Canepa, Matthew P.. "Cross-Cultural Communication in the Hellenistic Mediterranean, and Western and South Asia." Mercury's wings : exploring modes of communication in the ancient world (2017): 249-272. Link
  • James R. Wiseman Book Award, Archaeological Institute of America, 2020
  • Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, 2015 - 2016
  • Directeur d'études invité, École pratique des hautes études, Paris, May 2016 - June 2016
  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2015 - 2016
  • Villa Scholar, Getty Research Institute, April 2013 - July 2013
  • James Henry Breasted Prize for the best book in English on any field of history prior to the year 1000 C.E., 2010
  • Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 2009 - 2010
  • Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Merton College, University of Oxford, 2009
  • North American Fellow, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, 2007
  • Elected Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London