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Albert Houtum Schindler: A Remarkable Polymath in Late-Qajar Iran

Published Date: July 12, 2023

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6.125 x 9.25

About the Book

Widely regarded in his lifetime as the greatest living authority on all things Iranian, across an enormous range of disciplines, Albert Houtum Schindler lived and worked in Iran from 1868 to 1911. All who either met or corresponded with him came away praising his encyclopaedic knowledge and remarkable insight.


A member of numerous learned societies in Europe, he sustained a wide web of intellectual contacts and was insatiably curious. As an employee of the Indo-European Telegraph Department, the Imperial Bank of Persia and the Persian Bank Mining Rights Corporation, he experienced firsthand the ups and downs of Iran’s slow but inexorable movement towards modernity. Yet when he died in 1916 his obituaries were frustratingly brief. Private when it came to the details of his personal life, Albert Houtum Schindler gave little away.


This book is the first full-scale examination of the life and legacy of an extraordinary witness to the late-Qajar period and the land, people and history of Iran.
“General Houtum-Schindler . . . possesses probably more knowledge about the geography, ethnology, and local dialects of Persia than any man living.” — E.G. Browne, A Year amongst the Persians (1893).


“He has written a whole library of learned treatises on Persia, and I venture to affirm with confidence that there is no one at the present time who is better acquainted with the geography of the country than he.” — Sven Hedin, Overland to India (1910)



    • Preface & Acknowledgments

chapter 1
Origins & Youth (1846-1867) 

chapter 2
The Indo-European Telegraph Department (1868–1875)

chapter 3
The Persian Telegraph (1875–1881) 

chapter 4
Inspector General of Mines (1882–1884)

chapter 5
Naser al-Din Shah’s ‘Navy’ (1885-1887)

Chapter 6
Overseeing Banks and Mineral Prospection in the Interest of British Capital (1888–1893)

chapter 7
Schindler & Curzon (1890–1894) 

chapter 8
Second Marriage and Eastern Persian Irak (1894-1897)

chapter 9
New Responsibilities and Final Years (1898–1916) 

chapter 10

Appendix 1
Schindler’s Publications

Appendix 2
Madame Schindler 

Appendix 3
Publications in Schindler’s Personal Library and
their Appearance in his Work 


Figures & Credits



About the Author
D.T. Potts is Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and History at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. His lifelong fascination with and love of Iranian history and archaeology began with his first visit to Iran in 1973 and has led him to work on a wide range of topics extending in time from prehistory to the modern era. He is the author of The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State (Cambridge, 1999, 2nd ed. 2016) and Nomadism in Iran: From Antiquity to the Modern Era (Oxford, 2014). He was also the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran (Oxford, 2013) and Agreeable News from Persia: Iran in the Colonial and early Republican American Press, 1712-1848 (Springer, 2022). His books published by Mage include: Persia PortrayedA Nook in the Temple of Fame; And, Khark, written with Willem Floor.