SOAS University of London

Dr Cyrus Ala’i’s Historical Maps of Persia Collection at SOAS Library is now fully digitised and is available online

31 July 2019

The Centre for Iranian Studies at the London Middle East Institute (LMEI) is pleased to announce that Dr Cyrus Ala’i’s Historical Maps of Persia Collection at SOAS Library is now fully digitised and is available online.

Map of Persia

In January 2013 Dr Cyrus Ala’i donated his significant collection of specialist maps of Persia to the Centre for Iranian Studies at LMEI. This collection was lodged at the SOAS Library’s Special Collections.  Following this, we had the pleasure in 2015  of presenting a selection of these maps at the Brunei Gallery at SOAS entitled as “Maps of Persia 1477-1925: A Graphical Journey through the History of Iran”.
It is with great pleasure that we can now announce that this invaluable collection has been digitised and is accessible online at SOAS Library. 
The digitisation of the collection allows scholars worldwide to study the maps without the need to visit SOAS in person or to purchase the books. The maps are openly accessible and can be used for educational purposes free of charge.
The digital maps have been classified for ease of reference. They can be browsed by location from where they originated or in terms of areas which they depict, by creator or by date of creation. More simply, users can explore them by each item
In the spirit of widening access and enhancing global knowledge, this project is an important step for sharing the maps online. 
This project was made possible as a collaboration between the London Middle East Institute, the SOAS World Languages Institute and the SOAS Digital Library.

I would like to thank Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur of the SOAS World Languages Institute who played a key role in overseeing the digitisation process. I am indebted to her for her leadership of this important initiative. I would also like to thank the digitisation team at SOAS, especially Erich Kesse (Special Collections Archivist, Digital) as well as Catherine Buxton for their invaluable input.
We are also very pleased that the SOAS library now has a dedicated Special Collections Curator (Rare Books and Manuscripts): Ms Dominique Akhoun-Schwarb ( Please feel free to direct any questions related to the special collections to her.
Dr Hassan Hakimian (
Director, London Middle East Institute
30 July 2019