Both a pioneering interdisciplinary research center and a world-renowned museum, the OI aims to understand, reveal, and protect the earliest civilizations.

A centennial celebration of a revolutionary idea

One hundred years ago, James Henry Breasted founded the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago with a radical idea: he insisted that who we are—how we live as humans together—began not in Greece or Rome, but rather in complex civilizations that emerged in a region he vividly named “The Fertile Crescent.” Breasted’s legacy of intellectual and technological innovation lives on at the OI today—in transformative research and fieldwork, and in a world-renowned museum. As we seek a better understanding of our own time, the OI’s insights—which started with a determination to look where others didn’t—continue to offer us new ways of thinking about what connects us and why. 

Learn more about Our Story.


102 years of research
10,000 years of history