John Larson

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Erich F. Schmidt may very well have been the busiest Western archaeologist working in Iran during the 1930s. He directed the excavation of the mounds of Rayy from 1934 to 1936, under the auspices of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. With the financial assistance and support of his wife, Mary-Helen Warden, and her parents, the Schmidts established the Aerial Survey of Iran, which was intended to be a comprehensive survey of the archaeological sites in Iran a combination of aerial photography and observations made on the ground. In 1935, Schmidt replaced Ernst E. Herzfeld as field director of the Persepolis Expedition of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, in which capacity he served through the end of 1939. In 1935 and 1938, Schmidt was also seconded to direct the Holmes Expeditions to Luristan. The records generated by the personnel of all four projects, now housed in the Oriental Institute Archives, exhibit an especially high standard of archaeological field recording for the 1930s and are noteworthy for the extensive use of photography, as well as for the production of numerous sketches and drawings of the objects found.