The fifth celebration of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO’s “In the Shade of the Sun” ceremony was held on May 27th, 2022, in honor of Dr. Abdulmajid Arfaee, a researcher in the field of ancient Iranian history, with an emphasized focus on the era’s alphabet and language.
The celebration was held at the National Museum of Iran in partnership with the institution and Iran’s International Council of Museums (ICOM). Figures present in the ceremony included Secretary-General of the Commission Dr. Hojjatullah Ayoubi, president of the National Museum of Iran Mr. Jebriel Noukandeh, head of ICOM Mr. Ahmad Tabatabai, and students and peers of Dr. Abdulmajid Arfaee.
Before starting the event, the host dedicated a moment of silence to the lives lost in the recent tragedy of the collapse of the Metropol building in the city of Abadan, Iran.
Mr. Noukandeh was the first to speak of Dr. Arfaee’s contributions and accomplishments, saying that despite the obstacles and misunderstandings his field encounters, Dr. Arfaee’s success in interpreting the ancient language of Iran and revealing new knowledge regarding that by-gone era is worthy of respect and admiration. According to Mr. Noukandeh, Dr. Arfaee has aided the National Museum in organizing over 5,000 ancient inscriptions. Alongside this, he cooperated with the Chicago Archeological Institute in reading Persepolis clay tablets and helped return 2,026 of these items back to Iran.
Following Mr. Noukandeh, the Secretary-General of the Commission touched on how honouring figures like Dr. Arfaee in these times of hardships allows for hope. In reference to Dr. Arfaee’s efforts in deciphering the Dhu al-Qarnayn, Dr. Ayoubi mentioned that the understanding of this aspect of Iranian history is to owe him. “Today, we are more proud than ever to be Iranian,” he said. A clip showcasing Dr. Arfaee’s career in the field of ancient Iranians was presented afterwards.
Fellow speakers at the ceremony then talked about the significance of Dr. Arfaee’s works.
Mirjalaludin Kazazi referred to him as “a rare and precious treasure”, whose research in the history of Iran allows for him to also be a researcher of present-day Iran. Ali Belockbashi continued after, explaining that by deciphering the inscriptions of Persepolis remains, Dr. Arfaee provided a new window of understanding for the Achaemenid period and strengthened the Iranian identity. Jaleh Amoozgar also commended Dr. Arfaee on his work as a professor, insisting that he does not believe in withholding his knowledge from students.
Finally, Dr. Arfaee stepped forward to accept his awards in the presence Dr. Hojjatullah Ayoubi, Ms. Jaleh Amoozgar, Mr. Jebriel Noukandeh, Mr. Ahmad Mohit Tabatabai, Mr. Ali Belokbashi, and Mr. Yousef Sabouti. He was awarded the “Beacon of the Sun” and the “Beacon of ICOM”.
In his acceptance speech, he spoke of all the notable figures in his life that allowed him to grow into who he is. “Today is not a celebration of me and my efforts,” said Dr. Abdulmajid Arfaee, “but a celebration of all those in my life who encouraged and helped me to walk the path I did.”