A century ago, UChicago scholars argued a controversial idea: Western civilization had its roots in the ancient Middle East—not in Greece or Rome. Today, scholars at the OI and across the University continue shaping the study of the early civilization through archaeological work and their research on the world’s most ancient languages.
In 1919, UChicago Egyptologist James Henry Breasted formed the Oriental Institute (OI)—a world-renowned museum and interdisciplinary research center dedicated to the study of early civilizations in Western Asia and North Africa.
OI archaeologists carried out large-scale expeditions in modern-day Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Israel, unearthing massive temple complexes as well as objects of everyday life. For over 100 years, these items have helped researchers sketch a portrait of life in the some of the world’s oldest cities.