Sumner reappointed Director of Oriental Institute
William Sumner, a specialist on ancient Iran, has been reappointed Director of the Oriental Institute.
"I am very pleased that Bill has agreed to accept reappointment as Director of the Oriental Institute," President Sonnenschein said. "He has provided outstanding leadership to the institute since arriving at Chicago in 1989, and both Provost Stone and I look forward to working with him in the coming years.
"Bill is a leader in modern archaeological techniques, a thoughtful and wise administrator and a marvelous advocate for the institute. I am glad that all of us can continue to rely upon him as we move to further strengthen the Oriental Institute's programs and, in particular, to realize its plans for substantial physical improvements and expansion."
As director of the Malyan Project, based at the University of Pennsylvania, Sumner is overseeing the publication of a series of monographs based on the work of five field seasons at Tal-e-Malyan in the Kur River Basin in western Iran.
The Malyan Project's excavation of an Elamite city that dates to 3000 B.C. has helped increase understanding of how farming cultures were able to transform themselves into urban civilizations. Sumner's research has shown that the urban change that took place at Tal-e-Malyan was a response to an agricultural crisis. When irrigated land became saline, the people formed a city and turned to pastoral nomadism.
In addition to his work on the Malyan monograph series, Sumner has written many articles on the development of civilization in ancient Iran.
Sumner received his B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1952 and served in the Navy until 1964. He developed his interest in archaeology during naval service in the Mediterranean. Visits to ancient sites in Italy and Greece inspired him to pursue a graduate education. He received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania in 1972 and was a member of the anthropology faculty at Ohio State from 1971 until he joined the Chicago faculty as Professor in the Oriental Institute and in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations in 1989.