The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) is a center for advanced scholarly research and graduate education at New York University. ISAW's mission is to cultivate comparative, connective investigations of the ancient world from the western Mediterranean to China. Areas of specialty among ISAW's faculty include the Greco-Roman world, the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Central Asia and the Silk Road, East Asian art and archaeology, Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, ancient science, and digital humanities.
ISAW was founded in 2006 with funding from the Leon Levy Foundation, established to continue the philanthropic legacy of Leon Levy, co-founder of the Oppenheimer mutual funds. Long interested in ancient history, Levy in his final years, along with his wife Shelby White, began discussions about the creation of a path-breaking institute where advanced scholars would explore trade and cultural links among ancient civilizations. After Levy’s death in 2003, one of the earliest initiatives of the Leon Levy Foundation, was the fulfillment of that plan. ISAW is a discrete entity within New York University, independent of any other school or department of the university, with its own endowment and its own board of trustees, and is housed in separate facilities in a historic six-story limestone on East 84th Street in Manhattan.
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