Alexander Nagel, PhD

Assistant Professor; Assistant Chair | History of Art; Art History and Museum Professions
Alexander Nagel

(212) 217-4642

Business and Liberal Arts Center, Room B645


MA, Humboldt University
PhD, University of Michigan


Professor Nagel is actively involved in the research and publication of materials from fieldwork in Iran (Persepolis, Susa, Pasargadae) and Greece. Born and raised in Berlin, Germany, he teaches also on the archaeology and legacies of ancient sites, the history and development of polychromy studies, the role of surface decorations and paint on monuments in the Achaemenid Persian Empire, ceramic containers, coroplastic industries and technologies in ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, Iran and South Arabia. He also writes about and teaches about the reception of ancient cultures in the New World. A recipient of many international awards, research grants and fellowships, Dr. Nagel has published articles for the  Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran , and other prestigious publications. As a research associate with the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Dr. Nagel curated a number of exhibitions and research projects, focusing on the cultures and the legacies of the ancient Mediterranean, Arabia, the Middle East and Central Asia in Washington, D.C.

Selected Publications

"Transatlantic Hellas: Archiving Eastern Mediterranean Collections and Materials in the Smithsonian Institution," in T. Gerry ed. Legacies of Ancient Greece. Wilmington/DE: Vernon Press (2022): 21-62.

“Techniques of Art and Architecture,” in B. Jacobs, R. Rollinger eds. A Companion to the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell (2021): 1355–1373.

“Past Panoramas and Qatabān Legacies: New Work on South Arabian Archives and Materials in Washington, D.C.,” in C. Darles, L. Khalidi, M. Arbach eds. Contacts Between South Arabia and the Horn of Africa from Bronze Age to Islam in honor of Rémy Audouin. 21es Rencontres Sabéennes. Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Midi (2021): 29–40.  

“Farbe in Persepolis. Bildkraft und Polychromie achaemenidischer Palast-Architektur,” in J. Linke ed. Die Perser – Am Hof der Großkönige. Eine Ausstellung im Badischen Landesmuseum Karlsruhe. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern (2021): 60–65.

“The Mineral Universe of Elamite Susa and Achaemenid Persepolis,” in S. Balatti, H. Klinkott, J. Wiesehoefer eds. Paleopersepolis. Stuttgart: Steiner (2021): 59–76.

Cave and Worship in Ancient Greece - New Approaches to Landscape and Ritual. New York and London: Routledge (2020) (Co-editor: S. Katsarou).

“On Reading Caves and Ancient Greek Cult,” in S. Katsarou, A. Nagel eds. Cave and Worship in Ancient Greece - New Approaches to Landscape and Ritual. New York and London: Routledge (2020): 1–16.

“A River Ran Through It. Circulating Materials, Ideas and Ritual Along the Acheloos River,” in S. Katsarou, A. Nagel eds. Cave and Worship in Ancient Greece - New Approaches to Landscape and Ritual. New York and London: Routledge (2020): 114–143.

“Achaemenid Persian Art and Architecture in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin,” in D. Agut, R. Boucharlat et al. eds. Achemenet. Vingt ans après. Hommage à Pierre Briant. Paris: De Boccard (2020): 265–283.

“Preserving the Achaemenid Persian Legacy: Aspects of Conservation, Technology, Polychromy, and Material Culture in Persepolis,” in: E. Dusinberre, M. Garrison eds. The Art of Empire in Achaemenid Persia. Festschrift in Honor of Margaret Cool Root (Achaemenid History 16). Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten (2020): 113–136.

Review of the Exhibition “The World Between Empires,” Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March 18–June 23, 2019, College Art Association Online Exhibition Reviews

“Painters’ Workshops in the Ancient Near East. A Reassessment,” in S. Gondet ed. L'Orient est son jardin. Hommage à Rémy Boucharlat. Leuven: Peeters (2019): 377–386.

“Research on Color Matters: Towards a Modern Archaeology of Ancient Polychromies,” in B. Bock von Wuelfingen ed. Science in Color. Visualizing Achromatic Knowledge. Berlin: De Gruyter (2019): 45–58.

“World Heritage in Iran: Perspectives on Pasargadae by A. Mozaffari ed.,” (2014). Iranian Studies 51: 161-17, 2018.

“Painted Plaster and Glazed Brick Fragments from Achaemenid Pasargadae and Persepolis, Iran,” (co-authored with E. Aloiz and J. Douglas), Heritage Science 4.3, 2016.

“Down to Earth in Arcadia. Terracotta Figurines from a Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore at Tegea, Greece” In: E. Lafli, A. Muller, eds. Figurines de terre cuite en Méditerranée grecque et romaine. Septentrion. Presses Universitaires: 425-430, 2015.

“Capturing the History of Persepolis: The Squeeze as Tool in Art History and Archaeology,” in: M. McQuaid and C. McCarty, eds. Tools: Extending Our Reach. New York: Cooper Hewitt Museum. Exhibition Catalog: 86-87, 96, 100-101, 2015.

“Color in Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian Sculpture,” in: J. Stubbe-Ostergaard, ed. Transformations – Classical Sculpture in Color. Exhibition Catalog. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen: 130-145, 2014.

“Excavations in an Archive. An Update on the Ernst Herzfeld Online Resources at the Freer|Sackler in Washington, D.C.,” in: J. Gonnella and B. Finster, eds. A Hundred Years of Excavations in Samarra. Wiesbaden: Reichert: 20-29, 2014.

“Crafting Glass Vessels: Current Research on the Ancient Egyptian Glass Collections in the Freer Gallery of Art” Proceedings from a Workshop by the New Archaeological Research Network for Integrating Approaches to Ancient Material Studies (NARNIA): 659-671 (co-authored with B. McCarthy and S. Bowe), 2013.

Proceedings from a Workshop by the New Archaeological Research Network for Integrating Approaches to Ancient Material Studies (NARNIA): 659-671 (co-authored with B. McCarthy and S. Bowe), 2013.

“Color and Gilding in Achaemenid Architecture and Sculpture,” in: D. Potts, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Iran. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 596-621, 2013.

“Ernst Herzfeld,” “Kuh-e Kwaja,” “Persepolis,” in: B. Helwing, P. Rahemipour, eds. Teheran 50. Eine Ausstellung im Museum fuer Islamische Kunst in Berlin, 1.12.2011 bis 28.2.2012. Mainz: Zabern: 42-65 and 171-173 (in German), 2012.

“The Sasanians” in: H. Evans, ed. Byzantium and Islam. Age of Transition. An Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum of Art. (World Book Award Winner, Tehran, Iran), 2012.

“Enduring Legacies from the Caspian Sea: Ancient Iranian Ceramics,” Orientations 43.7 (October): 64-66, 2012.

“Encountering the World of Aphrodite on the Western Greek Mainland” in: A. Smith and S. Pickup, eds., Aphrodite Revealed. Leiden: Brill: 235-250, 2010.

“Colouring the Dead: New Investigations on the History and the Polychrome Appearance of the Tomb of Darius I at Naqsh-e Rostam, Fars,” in: L. Weeks, ed. Death, Burial and the Transition to the afterlife in Arabia and adjacent regions. Proceedings from the conference in the British Museum, London, November 27th -29th 2008. Walnut Creek: Left Coast: 303-12 (co-authored with H. Rassaz), 2010.

“Searching for the Gods at ancient Akarnania: New Evidence from a Ritual Deposit near Stratos, Greece,” Anodos. Studies of the Ancient World 6-7/2006-2007: 289-297, 2009.

“On Women’s Festivals and Piglets in ancient Tegea, Peloponnese,” in C. Mattusch, A. Donohue et al. eds. Common Ground: Archaeology, Art, Science and Humanities. Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Boston, August 23-26, 2004. Boston: 49-51, 2006.

Selected Conferences Organized

"Engaging with Western Civilization: Origins and Traditions and the Making of Greece at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. through the Archives," Conference 'State, Culture, Identities Views from the Archaeological Archives,' organized by Despina Lalaki & Zinovia Lialiouti, American School of Classical Studies at Athens and British School at Athens, April 2022

“Ascending to and Moving in Cave Sanctuaries in Classical Greece: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach,” International Conference “People in Motion in the Ancient Greek World,” Complutense University of Madrid (Virtual), May 2021

“Achaemenid Persian Landscapes and the Modern Mind - Great Games of Reconstructions,” International Workshop “Reconstructions” organized by A. Amrhein, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Virtual), May 2021

“Brooklyn’s First Canceled Museum. An Art Historiography of an Odyssey from Egypt to the New World,” American Research Center in Egypt, Annual Meeting (Virtual), April 2021

“New Research on Ancient Iranian Assemblages in US Museums: Collaborations and ‘Earth Matters’ at SUNY,” 12th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Bologna (Virtual), April 2021

“Contemporary Narratives on Ownership and Convenient Usages of the Provenance of Yemen's Past. A Perspective on Values and Archives of South Arabian Heritage,” International Conference “Global Provenance,” Palais de Rumine, Lausanne (Virtual), February 2021

“Wired Yet Still Wonderful: New Research on Fragments from Persepolis in the Digital World,” Digital Classicist Seminar, Berlin, Akademie of Science and FU Berlin, Invited Lecture (Virtual), January 2021

“Working on Stones in the Achaemenid Empire: Methods, Techniques and Technologies,” Three-Day Conference (Partners: Dr. Zohreh Zehbari and Judith Thomalsky), German Archaeological Institute and Iranian Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, Tehran, Iran, September 2021

“Working on Stones in the Achaemenid Empire: Methods, Theories and Techniques,” Three-Day Symposium, in Collaboration with the German Archaeological Institute, Tehran, and the Iranian Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT), September 2021

“The Most Beautiful Blue: Crafting Lions, Glaze, and Monument in Babylon, Susa, and Beyond,” One-Day Conference, Fashion Institute of Technology with Kremer-Pigments Raw Materials, December 2019

“Achaemenid Persian Art and Architecture in the Museum,” CAA 107th Annual Conference Panel, New York City (Partner: M. Rugiadi, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Islamic Art), February 2019

“New Approaches to Cave and Worship in the Ancient Mediterranean," Colloquium at the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, Boston (Partner: S. Katsarou, Hellenic Ministry of Culture), January 2018

“Digital Media and Cultural Heritage Preservation,” New York University, Washington, D.C. (Partner: Spanish Embassy, Washington, D.C.), June 2016

“The Itinerant 'Archives' of the World: Archaeologists, Objects and Values on the Move,” Theoretical Archaeology Group, Conference Session, New York University (Partner: G. Flouda, Heraklion Museum, Greece), May 2015

“Dialogues on Heritage: Values, Vessels and Philosophies from the Ancient World to Today,” Italian Embassy, Washington, D.C., May 2015

Selected Conferences and Public Lectures

"Brooklyn's First Cancelled Museum: An Art Historiography of an Odyssey from Egypt to the New World" Annual Meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt, April 2021

"Developing an Archaeological Narrative of the Past: George Miles (1904-1975) in Iran," New York Numismatic Club, November 2021

“Archives on the Archaeologies of Iran Abroad: Updates from Berlin and New York,” University of Baluchistan-Sistan, Iran, December 2020

“Achaemenid Empire: Color, Polychromy and Technologies,” Invited Guest Lecture, Fudan University, Shanghai, December 2020

“Euphrates and Tigris to Potomac: Some Comments on the Complex Legacies of Iraq in the Smithsonian Institution and Washington, D.C.,” International Conference of Mesopotamian Archaeology, University of Al-Qadisiayh, Iraq, November 2020

“Archiving, Building and Contextualizing Persepolis and Susa: Ongoing Collaborative Research on the Polychromies and Context of Achaemenid Persian Monumental Art and Architecture in Berlin, Washington, D.C., and New York,” Columbia University, Ancient Near East Seminar, November 2020

“On Choreographed Polychromies at Persepolis, Susa and Beyond: Achaemenid Monumental Facades between Painted Stone, Glaze, and Wall Painting,” International Conference “Color and Space. Interfaces of Architecture and Sculpture,” Berlin, German Archaeological Institute Berlin and Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, November 2020

“Dialogues on Persepolis: On Repositories, Opportunities and Collaboration on the Polychromies of Achaemenid Persian Architecture in the Digital Age,” Dean Hopper Conference, Drew University, November 2020

“A Monument, a Museum, an Archive, and a Hand: Vibrant Matters between Persepolis, Washington, D.C., Rome, Chicago, and Berlin,” “Millennium Conference,” London, October 2020

“Communicating and Controlling Ancient Texts in the Modern Context: Documenting Latex and Paper Squeezes, Lime and Photography of Inscriptions at Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rustam in Iran,” International Conference “Critical Perspectives on Image & Text,” Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, Oxford University, October 2020

“Biographies of Persepolis via Berlin: New Investigations on Architectural Polychromy, the Apadana and Tablet Preservation from Fars in Germany,” International (Virtual) Conference “Archaeology of Iran and Adjacent Regions,” University of Baluchistan-Sistan, Iran, July 2020

“An Afterlife of Persepolitan Polychromy: What I Learned From, and How I Made Friends in Iran,” Panel “Iran at the Crossroads of Civilizations: Scholars and Lawyers Speaking about Iranian History and Cultural Heritage,“ Princeton, Institute of Advanced Studies, January 2020 

 “Preserving Wildflowers & Exhibiting Diplomacy. Writing A Cultural History of Ancient Greece at the Smithsonian Institution,” Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, January 2020

“Persian Glazed Architecture in Babylon & Beyond. New Discoveries and Interpretations,” New York University, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York, December 2019 

“Traveling Abroad: Oil and South Arabian Antiquities in America,” Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, San Diego, November 2019

“Builders, Sculptors and Painters on an Archaeological Site in Iran, c. 520-330 BCE,” Conference “Persepolis Then and Now,” New York University, Grey Art Gallery, New York, November 2019

“Painters and Craftsmen between Achaemenid Persia and Classical Greece,” National Hellenic Research Foundation, Crete, Greece, October 2019

“Painting Achaemenid Persian Walls: New Research on Fourth Century BCE Palace Decorations at Persepolis and Susa, Iran,” International Colloquium, Association Internationale pour la Peinture Murale Antique, Naples, Italy, September 2019

“Developing an Archive on Ancient Greek Art in Washington, D.C.: Ancient Mediterranean Collections in the Smithsonian Institution,” Paros, Greece, June 2019

“Achaemenid Persian Material Culture in Berlin: An Introduction and Recent Investigations,” Bridging the Gap. Disciplines, Times, and Spaces in Dialogue. A Conference, Broadening Horizons 6, Berlin, Germany, June 2019

“Gisela Richter and Edith Porada on Achaemenid Persia: Curating the Old World in 20th Century New York City,” International Workshop “Collectors, Curators and Cataloguers: Hidden Women in Archaeology in the 19th and 20th Centuries,” University of Reading, June 2019

“Teaching with Museum Collections in Manhattan. The Art History and Museum Professions Program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City,” Workshop “Teaching with Collections,” University of Reading, June 2019

“Safeguarding Yemen's Past, Present, and Future” Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., December 2018

“Challenges Facing Yemen’s Millennia-Long Cultural Heritage” (Roundtable) MESA Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas, November 2018

“Pots and Painters: Ceramic Containers and Craftsmen between the Mediterranean and Central Asia,” Invited Talk, National Hellenic Research Foundation & Getty Foundation Connecting Art Histories Program, Athens, Greece, October 2018

“The Mineral Universe of Elamite Susa and Achaemenid Persepolis,” International Conference “Paleopersepolis: Towards an Environmental and Socio-economic History of Ancient Persis,” Christian-Albrechts University, Kiel, July 2018 

“Research on Color Matters: Towards a Modern Archaeology of Ancient Polychromies,” International Conference “The Meaning of Color in the Sciences,” Berlin-Humboldt University, July, 2018

“A River Runs Through It: Circulating Materials by the Acheloos River in Ancient Greece,” Boston, Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, January 2018

“Promising Stories: New Research on Paints and Pigments in Ancient Persia and the Near East,” Opening-day Symposium for “Gods in Color: Polychromy in the Ancient World,” San Francisco Legion of Honor Museum, October 2017    

“Mesopotamian Cultures in Washington, D.C. (1882-2017): A Rapid Review,” Evening Lecture, Iraqi Embassy, Washington, D.C., September 2017  

“Cultural Heritage in Yemen: A Year in Review,” World Heritage Day, co-organized by the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Archaeological Institute of America, Smithsonian Institution, Hirshhorn Museum, April 2016   

“Taking Care of Color in Persepolis: New Research on Painters, Palaces and Polychromies in Achaemenid Persepolis, c. 520-330 BCE,” University of Chicago, Oriental Institute Museum, November 2015  

“Reading Mason’s Marks and Building Technologies at Achaemenid Persepolis, Iran,” University of Pennsylvania, Symposium “Against Gravity: Building Practices in the Pre-Industrial World,” March 2015


American Philosophical Society 
Smithsonian Institution
Archaeological Institute of America
New York University, Washington, D.C. Campus
DAAD (German Academic Foreign Exchange Program)
UNESCO (participation for workshop on Yemen in Djibouti City, Djibouti) 
DAI (German Archaeological Institute, participation for conference in Tabriz, Iran)
Graham Foundation, Carter Manny Award


  • HA 111 History of Western Art and Civilization: Ancient to Medieval
  • HA 121 Ancient Cities: The Eastern Mediterranean World
  • HA 208 Earth Matters: Art & Environment in Ancient Egypt and Western Asia
  • HA 214 Art in New York
  • HA 308 Goddesses, Women, Power and Patronage in the Ancient World (Honors)
  • HA 319 Art History and Conservation
  • HA 362 Museum Professions and Administration
  • HA 461 Senior Seminar: Museum Exhibition
  • HA 462 Art and Ethics