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

Color and Meaning in the Art of Achaemenid Persia: Cambridge University Press (2023)

"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

“Archaeology, Photography and a Legacy of Museums and Looting in Yemen. Collaborating on the Values of Archives in South Arabian Heritage Documentation,” American Schools of Overseas Research Annual Meeting, Chicago, November 2023

“In Limbo? The Past, Present and Future of Ancient South Arabian Architectural Mausolea and their Contents in Europe and North America,” International Conference On the Move: l'Architettura è Mobile, Venice, Italy, November 2023

“Archaeologies of Greek-Americans and Greece in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC: Archives, Narratives and Exhibitions,” University of Missouri-St. Louis, November 2023

“Where Peace-Makers, Peace-Movements and Museums Meet: Sad Stories on Empathy and Negotiating Peace Through Antiquities from Yemen Abroad,” Conference Peace and Protest, Past and Present, Gwynedd Mercy University, October 2023

“The Bluebeards of the Achaemenids: Hairy Matters in Studying Ancient Persian Art,” Invited Lecture, Columbia University, New York, September 2023

"Leaving Aden and Sanaa Behind. Documenting Movements and Transportation of Qataban Collections and Archives in Germany and North America,” 25th Rencontres Sabéennes. Epigraphy, history and archaeology of pre-Islamic South Arabia, Jordan, September 2023

“Yemeni Antiquities to America: Observations on Working on Correspondences and Archival Repositories,” Conference Researching a Rigged Game: Open-Source Data and the Trade of Cultural Objects (Virtual), University College London, September 2023

“Oman Fashion Past to Present: An Introduction,” Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, Washington, DC, October 2022

“Pigment to Stone: Scientific Investigations and the Realities of Surface Painting and Polychromies at Persepolis, Naqsh-e Rustam, Susa and Pasargadae,” Webinar Pigments and Colourful Materials, Department of Conservation, Art University of Isfahan, Iran (Virtual), July 2022


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