DÉLÉGATIONS ARCHÉOLOGIQUES FRANÇAISES, bodies established by the French government to conduct archeological investigations in Persia and Afghanistan respectively.

i. Délégation Archéologique Française en Iran.

ii. Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan.



Archeological research in Persia began with the explorations of the British geologist W. K. Loftus in 1847 and was continued by Marcel and Jane Dieulafoy in 1884-86. The main site to catch the interest of these investigators was Susa in Ḵūzestān, one of the capitals of the Achaemenid empire and mentioned in the Bible as the palace where Esther was chosen queen by Ahasuerus (Esther 2; M. Dieulafoy, 1888). C.** Babin mapped the three major areas of the site (the acropolis; the Apadāna ii; and the “Ville royale”) while the Dieulafoys excavated the Achaemenid palace in the Apadāna. Since their early efforts Susa has remained the largest excavation site in Persia, under the direction of the Délégation en Perse (D.P.), which underwent many changes of name and became Délégation Archéo-logique Française en Iran (DAFI) after World War II. In 1982 the DAFI and the Institut Français d’Iranologie merged under the name Institut Français de Recherches en Iran (IFRI).

In 1312/1895 René de Balloy, the French minister in Tehran, obtained from Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah (1264-1313/1848-96) a French monopoly of archeological exploration in Persia. Two years later Jacques de Morgan, a mining engineer who had already visited Persia in 1889-91 and had advised on the terms of this agreement, was appointed delegate general to Persia from the French Ministère de l’Instruction Publique (ministerial decree, 19 April 1897), and the French parliament allocated 100,000 gold francs for the establishment of the D.P., with an annual budget of F. 130,000.

De Morgan assumed direction of the D.P., which he retained until 1912. His own archeological investigations were focused on the prehistory of Susa and achieving a first appreciation of the stratigraphy of the site (de Morgan et al.). The major discoveries included a prehistoric necropolis with painted ceramics of Susa style A (4th millennium B.C.E.); clay tablets with a proto-Elamite pictographic script that is still undeciphered; Elamite temples from the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C.E.; the stele of Hammurabi, with his law code; the stele of Naram Sin; the Manishtusu obelisk; and a bronze statue of Queen Napirasu. These and other finds, for example, the famed archers’ frieze excavated by the Dieulafoys, which Moẓaffar-al-Dīn Shah (1313-24/1896-1907) had seen in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, led, in 1900, to a convention in which France was granted the exclusive right to excavate in the Persian empire and to keep all the antiquities discovered; the Persian government was to be compensated for gold and silver objects only (Bagherzadeh, p. xv).

An increasing number of investigators were also working at other sites under the sponsorship of the D.P.: Tepe Mūsīān on the plain of Dehloran (Gautier and Lampre, pp. 92-148), “dolmen” fields in Gīlān province, ancient Sasanian irrigation systems in Ḵūzestān (Graadt van Roggen), fossil fish at Marāḡa in Azerbaijan (de Mecquenem). These investigators included the botanist L.-C. Watelin, J.-E. Gautier, Roland de Mecquenem, Paul Toscanne, G. Pézard, and the hydrologist D. L. Graadt van Roggen. The results of this work were published in the Mémoires of the successive avatars of the Délégation (for a complete catalogue of those related to Elamite sites in Ḵūzestān, see Amiet, pp. 602-06).

Following de Morgan’s resignation no successor was chosen immediately; the funds of the renamed Mission Archéologique de Perse (M.A.P.) were allotted to several scholars working in different parts of Persia: de Mecquenem and the architect Maurice Pillet at Susa; Charles Fossey at Hamadān, Ray, and Sar-e Pol; G. and Maurice Pézard at Līān near Būšehr (Pézard). J. V. Scheil and Pillet edited the various volumes of the Mémoires.

Field work was halted during World War I. In 1920 de Mecquenem was named director of the M.A.P., and he and Scheil resumed the work at Susa and in the adjacent region, with funds provided by the French Ministère d’Instruction Publique and the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. Between 1920 and 1938 de Mecquenem excavated Elamite levels, the 4th-millenium B.C.E. necropolis, and the post-Achaemenid donjon. In 1939 he initiated work at the large site of Čōḡā Zanbīl, where he explored the ziggurat (de Mecquenem and Michalon). His assistant Louis Le Breton surveyed small sites of the 6th-4th millennia in Susiana. Meanwhile, outside the Susiana plain more modern methods of research and more controlled exploration of stratigraphy were adopted at Tepe Gīān near Nehāvand (Contenau and Ghirshman) and Tepe Sīalk near Kāšān (Ghirshman, 1938).

In 1308 Š./1929 the Persian govenment renounced the terms of its treaty on antiquities with the French; thenceforth all finds, with the exception of clay tablets, elements of architectural decoration, and valuable objects considered components of the Persian patrimony, were to be divided equally between the Iran Bastan Museum in Tehran and the Louvre (Bagherzadeh, p. xvi).

After a further suspension of activity during World War II Roman Ghirshman became director of the Mission Archéologique en Iran (M.A.I.) in 1946. Until 1951 he focused his own efforts on the “Ville royale” at Susa, dating from the 2nd millenium B.C.E.; he was assisted by the architect Hermann Gasche and the epigrapher M.-J. Steve. Then he turned his own attention to Čōḡā Zanbīl, where he continued to work until 1961 (M.D.A.I. 39-42); in the meantime other members of the renamed Délégation Archéologique en Iran (D.A.I.) continued the work at Susa, at the acropolis (4th-3rd millennium B.C.E.), the Apadāna, and the “Ville des artisans” (Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian periods; Ghirshman, 1954), and also investigated the Sasanian city of Ayvān-e Karḵa (Ghirshman, 1952, pp. 10-12), Masjed-e Solaymān, and Bard-e Nešānda (Ghirshman, 1976).

In 1968 Jean Perrot became the fourth director of the DAFI and under his guidance close ties of cooperation were forged with the department of archeology at the University of Tehran, the Persian department of antiquities (Edāra-ye koll-e bāstān-šenāsī), the Persian Center for archeological research (Markaz-e pažūhešhā wa kāvešhā-ye bāstān-šenāsī), and the National organization for the preservation of historic monuments of Persia (Sāzmān-e mellī-e ḥefāẓat-e āṯār-e bāstānī-e Īrān). In 1348 Š./1969 the system of dividing excavated antiquities between the two countries was terminated. All finds, recorded on cards in both Persian and French, are kept in the regional museum at Susa, except for those of greatest importance, which are sent to the Iran Bastan Museum in Tehran (Bagherzadeh, p. xviii).

Beginning in the late 1960s the new staff gathered by Perrot, including archeologists, epigraphers, geophysicists, natural scientists, geologists, and engineers, tended to be more interdisciplinary and more international in composition; for example, it included Persian archeologists and American anthropologists. The goal remained a comprehensive reassessment of the societies of Susa and the Susiana plain from the 6th millennum B.C.E. onward. The excavations at Susa and such nearby sites as Jaʿfarābād (Dollfus), Jovī, and Band-e Bāl have been focused on establishing a solid stratigraphical basis for the chronology of the region (Vallat, pp. 16-17), the indispensable framework for the study of the natural environment, population trends, shifts in settlement, strategies of subsistence, international trade (see COMMERCE i), and successive stages of political integration; comprehensive reports of this effort are published in CDAFI, of which fifteen volumes had appeared by 1987. French excavations in Persia were suspended after the Revolution of 1357 Š./1978-79.



(For abbreviations found in this bibliography, see “Short References.”) P. Amiet, Elam, Auvers-sur-Oise, France, 1966.

F. Bagherzadeh, “Jean Perrot, un ami de l’Iran,” in F. Vallat, ed., Contribution à l’histoire de l’Iran. Mélanges offerts à Jean Perrot, Paris, 1990, pp. xv-xxi.

T. Berthoud and J. Françaix, Contribution à l’étude de la métallurgie de Suse aux IVème et IIIème millénaires, Gif-sur-Yvette, France, 1980.

R. Boucharlat and O. Lecomte, Fouilles de Tureng Tepe sous la direction de J. Deshayes I. Les périodes sassanides et islamiques, Paris, 1987.

G. Contenau et R. Ghirshman, Fouilles de Tepe Giyan près de Nehavend, Paris, 1935.

J. Dieulafoy, À Suse. Journal de fouilles 1884-1886, Paris, 1888.

M. Dieulafoy, Le livre d’Esther et le Palais d’Assuerus, Paris, 1888.

Idem, L’acropole de Suse d’après les fouilles exécutées en 1884-1886, Paris, 1893.

L’évolution des sociétés complexes du sud-ouest de l’Iran. Actes du séminaire CNRS/NSF de Bellevaux (24-29 juin 1985), Paléorient 11/2, Paris, 1985.

G. Dollfus, “Les recherches à Djaffarabad de 1969 à 1971,” CDAFI 1, 1971, pp. 17-86.

J.-E. Gautier and G. Lampre, “Fouilles de Moussian,” in Recherches archéo-logiques, M.D.P. 8, Paris, 1905, pp. 59-148.

R. Ghirshman, Fouilles de Sialk près de Kashan, Paris, 1938.

Idem, Rapport préliminaire I. Cinq campagnes de fouilles à Suse (1946-1951) I, M.M.A.I. 33, Paris, 1952.

Idem, Suse. Village perse-achéménide, M.M.A.I. 36, Paris, 1954.

Idem, Tchoga Zanbil (Dur-Untash) I. La ziggurat, M.D.A.I. 39, Paris, 1966.

Idem, Tchoga Zanbil (Dur-Untash) II. Temenos, temples, palais, tombes, M.D.A.I. 40, Paris, 1968.

Idem, Terrasses sacrées de Bard-è Néchandeh et de Masjid-i Solaiman. L’Iran du sud-ouest du VIIIe s. av. notre ère au Ve s. de notre ère, M.D.A.I. 45, 2 vols., Paris, 1976.

D. L. Graadt van Roggen, “Notice sur les anciens travaux hydrauliques en Susiane,” in Recherches archéologiques, M.D.P. 7, 1905, pp. 167-207.

L. Le Breton, “The Early Periods at Susa. Meso-potamian Relations,” Iraq 19, 1957, pp. 79-124.

W. K. Loftus, Travels and Researches in Chaldaea and Susiana in 1849-52, London, 1857.

R. de Mecquenem, “Contribution à l’étude des fossiles de Maragheh,” Annales de paléontologie 13, 1924, pp. 133-60.

Idem and J. Michalon, Recherches à Tchogha Zembil, M.M.A.I. 33, Paris, 1953.

J. de Morgan, Mission scientifique en Perse. Études géographiques, 5 vols. in 8 parts, Paris, 1894-1905.

Idem, La Délégation en Perse du Ministère de l’Instruction Publique de 1897 à 1902, Paris, 1902.

Idem, G. Jéquier, and G. Lampre, Recherches archéologiques. Fouilles à Suse en 1897-98 et 1898-99, M.D.P. 1, Paris, 1900.

J. de Morgan and R. de Mecquenem, “Les fouilleurs de Suse,” Iranica Antiqua 16, 1980, pp. 1-48.

J. Perrot, “Un siècle de fouilles à Suse,” in Suse. Dernières découvertes, Dossiers Histoire et Archéologie 138, Dijon, 1989, pp. 12-15.

Idem, “La séquence archéologique de Suse et du sud-ouest de l’Iran antérieurement à la période achéménide,” in L’évolution des sociétés complexes du sud-ouest de l’Iran. Actes du séminaire CNRS/NSF de Bellevaux (24-29 juin 1985), Paléorient 11/2, Paris, 1985, pp. 133-40.

M. Pézard, “Mission à Bender-Bouchir,” M.A.P. 15, 1914.

M. Pillet, Le palais de Darius I à Suse, Paris, 1914.

M.-J. Steve and H. Gasche, L’acropole de Suse, M.M.A.I. 46, 1971.

F. Vallat, “L’inscription trilingue,” JA 260, 1972, pp. 247-52.

Idem, “Une histoire cinq fois millénaire,” in Suse. Dernières découvertes, Dossiers Histoire et Archéologie 138, Dijon, 1989, pp. 16-17.

J. Yoyotte, “Les inscriptions hiéroglyphiques. Darius et l’Égypte,” JA 260, 1972, pp. 253-66.




The Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan (DAFA) was established after the independence of Afghanistan was recognized in 1921. Amir Amān-Allāh Khan, later king, in his efforts to modernize the country, rejected the help of his near neighbors and turned to France. Among the projects that he promoted was the DAFA, first proposed by Sardār ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz Khan and Philippe Bonin, respectively Afghan and French ambassadors to Persia, who were probably inspired by the example of the Mission Archéologique de Perse. Alfred Foucher, a well-known authority on the ancient history of Afghanistan, was entrusted with the difficult task of negotiating an agreement. After a hard journey through Persia and the Hindu Kush he reached Kabul in the spring of 1922 (Foucher, I, p. 10). On 9 September a convention was signed by Amān-Allāh Khan, his minister Fayż-Moḥammed Khan, and Foucher. The newly appointed ambassador to France, Maḥmūd Beg Ṭarzī, carried it to Paris, where it was ratified by the French minister for Foreign Affairs, Philippe Berthellot. Foucher became the first director of the DAFA (Courtois).

By the terms of the agreement the French government had the exclusive privilege to conduct surveys and excavations in Afghanistan for a period of thirty years; at the expiration of that period the convention was renewed, with amendments, until 1357 Š./1978. The initial program of the DAFA included research on the art of Gandhara, Buddhist and Hellenistic sites, and the Silk Road (Courtois, p. 18). It was stipulated that the finds, with the exception of gold and jewelry, were to be divided equally between Afghanistan and France (Hackin, 1933, p. 1). In 1344 Š./1965 the system of sharing finds was terminated, and Afghanistan assumed the right to all of them. Archeological material collected by the DAFA is kept at the Kabul museum and the Musée des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet in Paris. Research results and excavation reports were published in MDAFA (1-32, 1942-89).

The activity of the DAFA can be divided into three periods. From 1923 to 1925 the work was limited to surveys, based on the model of the Archaeological Survey of India. Foucher’s colleagues included the architect André Godard, who had previously worked in Persia; Joseph Hackin, director of the Musée Guimet; and Jules Barthoux. They followed the ancient trails of Buddhist monks, Chinese pilgrims, and the various invaders of the land. Stupas, monasteries, and columns were recorded in the Kabul area, in Kāpīsā, and around Jalālābād, where the major site was Hadda (Foucher, I, pp. 138-48, 150-53). In November 1923 the team visited Bāmīān ii. (Godard et al.) on the way to Balḵ, where Foucher and his wife remained for eighteen months, seeking remains of the Greek period, with disappointing results (Foucher, I, pp. 55-121).

In the second phase (1926-40) the first full-scale excavations were undertaken. AlthoughFoucher had returned to France in 1925, he remained director of the DAFA (Dollot, pp. 276-79) up to 1946. Meanwhile Barthoux began excavations at Hadda (1926-28), where eight monasteries and 500 stupas were recorded, as well as approximately 15,000 sculptures and fragments; only 3,000 of the latter reached Kabul, owing to opposition of the inhabitants led by the mullas (Barthoux, 1933; idem, 1930). About half those finds were sent to France, and the other half were placed in the Kabul museum (Bāḡ-e bālā), where they suffered some damage during the revolt of Bačca(-ye) Saqqā in 1308 Š./1929.

The other major figure in the DAFA in the early days was Hackin. He returned to Bāmīān in 1930 with his wife, Ria, and the architect Jean Carl. They worked rapidly but carefully, with the help of the local inhabitants, making surveys, plans, and photographs of the grottoes and their decoration. The painted cupola from nearby Kakrak was restored and sent to Kabul (Hackin and Carl). Hackin joined the Croisière Jaune, a motor expedition to Central Asia and China sponsored by André Citroën in 1931 (Le Fèvre) but returned to Bāmīān three years later (Brühl) and undertook excavations on several monuments in the Kabul area: Ḵayr-Ḵāna (Hackin and Meunié) in 1935, Sāka, and Goldarra (Hackin, 1959, pp. 13-18; Fussman, 1976). In 1936 he turned to the desert of Afghan Sīstān (Hackin, 1959, pp. 19-21) but soon returned to the Hindu Kush, where he worked for a while at Qondūz (Hackin, 1937; Curiel and Fussman), before moving on to Šotorak in Kāpīsā (Meunié) and Fondoqestān in Parvān province (Hackin, 1959, pp. 49-58).

In April 1937 the Hackins and Carl began excavations at Begram. On 17 May the first of the famous “Begram glasses” was unearthed. A total of 216 items was eventually found in a single room (no. 10); beside the glasses, they included bronzes, coins, and ivories, among them the well-known “casket IX” and figurines of river goddesses (Hackin, 1939). Two years later the excavations were resumed, and in room 13 ivories, bronzes, plaster casts, and Chinese lacquers were found (Hackin, 1954). Considerable restoration work was conducted, first at the site by Ria Hackin and Carl and later in Paris by P. ***Hamelin and P.*** André (Hamelin). During World War II the Begram discoveries were stored in various embassies in Kabul and Peshawar, after a sharing agreement had been reached between Hackin and the king himself. The Afghan share was sent to the new Kabul museum in Dār al-Amān and the French share to the Musée Guimet. Hackin and his wife died at sea in February 1941 while trying to return to Afghanistan. Roman Ghirshman continued the excavations at Begram, but no further hoards were found (1948). He also resumed the exploration of Nād-e ʿAlī in Sīstān (Hackin, 1959, pp. 23-25).

During the third phase (1946-82) there was a major shift in the orientation of the DAFA. After World War II Daniel Schlumberger, a specialist in the late Hellenistic period in the Near East, became director, serving from 1946 to 1963. The French monopoly of archeological research in Afghanistan was gradually eroded, as missions from other countries were granted permission to work in the country, under the control of a newly developed cultural administration in Kabul. The Afghan Institute of archeology, distinct from the Kabul museum, was established; its last director was Zemaryalai Ṭarzī. In this phase the French program took on new dimensions. Prehistoric sites related to the Indus civilization were excavated: Mondegak (Qandahār province) in the late 1950s (Casal) and twenty years later Šortōḡay (Taḵār province; Francfort). The Islamic monuments at Jam (Maricq and Wiet), Bost, and Laškarī Bāzār were also investigated (Schlumberger).

Schlumberger discovered two other major sites, the large mound at Sorḵ-kotal and Āy Ḵānom. At the former coins and inscriptions, as well as a wealth of architectural and sculptural fragments, yielded new data on the religious monuments of Bactria during the early Kushan period. Following Schlumberger’s untimely death in 1973, the final publication of the architecture at Sorḵ-kotal was entrusted to Gérard Fussman (Schlumberger et al.; Fussman and Guillaume). The excavations at Āy Ḵānom were led by Schlumberger’s successor as director of the DAFA, Paul Bernard. The publications that have appeared so far reveal the scope and quality of the work at this important site (Bernard).

The last fieldwork carried out by the DAFA in Afghanistan was a survey of northeastern Bactria, under the direction of Jean-Claude Gardin. It led to the discovery of a large number of sites and the remains of irrigation systems, all dated by surface pottery, which provided a basis for a broad history of the area over the last 5,000 years (Gardin and Lyonnet; Gentelle). Political events in Afghanistan in 1358 Š./1979 halted this work; Gardin, the last director, was entrusted with the transfer to the Kabul museum of the material collected by the DAFA over the years, after it had been recorded and studied by his associates in Kabul for later publication in France. When this work was completed in 1361 Š./1982 the headquarters of the DAFA were closed.



(For abbreviations found in this bibliography, see “Short References”) J. Barthoux, Les fouilles de Haḍḍa III. Figures et figurines, album photographique, MDAFA 6, Paris, 1930.

Idem, Les fouilles de Haḍḍa. Stûpas et sites, texte et dessins, MDAFA 4, Paris, 1933.

P. Bernard, ed., Fouilles d’Aï Khanoum I (Campagnes 1965, 1966, 1967. 1968).

Rapport préliminaire, 2 vols., Paris, 1973.

O. Brühl, “Derniers travaux de la DAFA en Afghanistan,” RAA 8, 1934, pp. 116-19.

J.-M. Casal, Fouilles de Mundigak, MDAFA 17, 2 vols., Paris, 1961.

J. C. Courtois, “Summary of the History of Archaeological Research in Afghanistan,” Afghanistan (Kabul) 16/2, 1961, pp. 18-29.

R. Curiel and G. Fussman, Le trésor monétaire de Qunduz, MDAFA 20, Paris, 1965.

R. Dollot, L’Afghanistan. Histoire, descriptions, moeurs et coutumes, folklore, fouilles, Paris, 1937.

A. Foucher, La vieille route de l’Inde, de Bactres à Taxila, MDAFA 1, 2 vols., Paris, 1942-47.

H.-P. Francfort, Les palettes du Gandhāra, MDAFA 23, Paris, 1979.

G. Fussman and O. Guillaume, Surkh-kotal en Bactriane II. Les monnaies, les petits objets, MDAFA 32, Paris, 1989.

G. Fussman and M. Le Berre, Monuments bouddhiques de la région de Caboul I. Le monastère de Gul Dara, MDAFA 22, Paris, 1976.

J.-C. Gardin and B. Lyonnet, “La prospection archéo-logique de la Bactriane orientale 1974-1978. Premiers résultats,” Mesopotamia 13-14, 1978-79, pp. 99-154.

P. Gentelle, “Données paléo-géographiques et fondement de l’irrigation,” in J.-C. Gardin, ed., Prospections archéologiques en Bactriane orientale I, Paris, 1989.

R. Ghirshman, Bégram.Recherches archéologiques et historiques sur les Kouchans, MDAFA 12, Cairo, 1946.

A. Godard, Y. Godard, and J. Hackin, Les antiquités bouddhiques de Bāmiyān, MDAFA 2, Paris and Brussels, 1928.

J. Hackin, L’oeuvre de la Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan, 1922-1932, Tokyo, 1933.

Idem, Recherches archéologiques à Bégram (chantier no. 2, 1937),MDAFA 9, 2 vols., Paris, 1939.

Idem, Nouvelles recherches archéologiques à Bégram (1939-1940),MDAFA 11, 2 vols., Paris, 1954.

Idem, Diverses recherches archéologiques en Afghanistan (1933-1940), MDAFA 8, Paris, 1959.

Idem and J. Carl, Nouvelles recherches archéologiques à Bāmiyān MDAFA 3, Paris, 1933.

Idem and J. Meunié, Recherches archéologiques au col de Khair Khaneh près de Kâbul, MDAFA 7, Paris, 1936.

P. Hamelin, Matériaux pour servir à l’étude des verreries de Begram, Cahiers de Byrsa (Tunis) 3-4, 1953-54.

G. Le Fèvre, La croisière jaune, Paris, 1933.

A. Maricq and G. Wiet, Le minaret de Djam. La découverte de la capitale des sultans ghorides (XIIe-XIIIe siècles), MDAFA 16, Paris, 1959.

J. Meunié, Shotorak, MDAFA 20, Paris, 1942.

D. Schlumberger, Lashkari Bazar, une résidence royale ghaznévide et ghoride IA. L’architecture, MDAFA 18, Paris, 1978.

Idem, M. Le Berre, and G. Fussman, Surkh Kotal en Bactriane I. Les temples, MDAFA 25, Paris, 1983.

(Francine Tissot)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 21, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 3, pp. 238-242