Authored seminal English-language textbook for Japanese audiences
Eiji Asada, a Japanese student in Semitic Languages and Literatures, received the University’s first PhD in 1893. Asada was the author of the first English textbook and reader for a Japanese audience. It was used widely in Japan at the start of the 20th century.
Eiji Asada, PhD 1893, scholar of Semitic languages and Old Testament biblical studies
Colossal Statue of King Tutankhamun excavated by the Oriental Institute and on display in its Egyptian Gallery
Established first US chair in Egyptology, Oriental history
Scholarship on the ancient Near East was primarily centered in Europe until 1905, when archaeologist and historian James Henry Breasted assumed the first chair in Egyptology and Oriental history in the United States, at the University of Chicago. In 1919, he founded the Oriental Institute as a laboratory for the study of the rise and development of civilization.
Confirmed that cancer is a genetic disease
Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and geneticist Janet Davison Rowley, LAB’42, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, identified the genetic basis for leukemia, confirming that cancer is a genetic disease. She later was a key player in the development of the first precisely targeted anti-cancer drug.
Janet Davison Rowley, the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, and Human Genetics, in her laboratory
Members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance demonstrate for the right to receive domestic partnership benefits during Weddstock 1992.
Promoted the study of contemporary Chinese art in the West
Art historian Wu Hung, who came to the University of Chicago in 1994, is widely considered the first person to introduce contemporary Chinese art to the West and open it as field of critical study. Wu’s work has shaped a generation of curators and scholars, both here and in China, and exposed Western audiences to a deeper understanding of Chinese art at a time of great economic and social change.
This Smart Museum of Art exhibit of contemporary Chinese photo-based art was curated by Wu Hung, the Harrie A. Vanderstappen Professor in Art History, and Christopher Phillips, Curator at New York’s International Center of Photography.
Ancient clay balls containing tokens were used to record commercial transactions before writing was developed.
Used noninvasive modern technology to study ancient artifacts
In 2004, Sumerologist Christopher Woods and colleagues at the Oriental Institute used industrial CT scanners to image the interior of 5,000-year-old clay balls from Iran that contain tokens that may be the earliest accounting system. The nondestructive research method has allowed examination of many more such artifacts and will advance a clearer understanding of their relationship to the emergence of accounting and writing.
Used imaging technology to reconstruct ancient monuments
Art historian Katherine Tsiang digitally reconstructed the sixth-century Buddhist cave temples of Xiangtangshan by combining art historical research with archeological knowledge and emerging imaging technologies. This technique provided a new model for reassembling and restoring context to cultural monuments that have been scattered across the globe or destroyed. The related exhibit appeared at the Smart Museum of Art and four other museums in 2010–13.
The Xiangtangshan Caves in China
Naomy Grand'Pierre at the 2016 Summer Olympics