Margaret Cool Root (PhD, Near Eastern and Classical Archaeology, Bryn Mawr College) is Curator of Greek and Near Eastern Collections at the Kelsey Museum, Professor of Near Eastern and Classical Art and Archaeology in the Department of the History of Art, and a core faculty member of the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology. From 1994 through 1999 she chaired the Department of the History of Art. Between 1978 and 1994 she operated as sole curator of the Kelsey’s Egyptian, Greek, and ancient Mesopotamian collections, as well as glass and glyptic evidence across all Kelsey holdings.
Her book, The King and Kingship in Achaemenid Art: Essays on the Creation of an Iconography of Empire (1979), was transformative in her field, exploring the official representational strategies of the Achaemenid Persians as productions not of a vacuous barbarian dynasty but rather of a new paradigm of world order. She brought with her to Michigan a major funded research project documenting the seals used on thousands of administrative documents of the Persian Empire excavated at the site of Persepolis. This research has illuminated the Near Eastern seal collections of the Kelsey. She also continues to probe large issues in the visual record of the Persian Empire in articles, books, edited volumes, and exhibitions. Her teaching includes courses such as “Art and Empire in Antiquity” and “Exhibiting Mesopotamia: Art, Politics, and the Museum.”
She has received fellowships for independent research from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, she has garnered research and exhibition project grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Iran Heritage Foundation.