WTTW11 PRESENTS BREAKING GROUND: THE STORY OF THE ORIENTAL INSTITUTE and PIONEER TO THE PAST: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JAMES HENRY BREASTED IN CELEBRATION OF THE INSTITUTE'S 85TH ANNIVERSARY

WTTW11 Airdates:

Breaking Ground: The Story of the Oriental Institute
Thursday, May 27 at 9 - 10 p.m. (Repeats: Wed., June 2 at 10 p.m.)

Pioneer to the Past: The Life and Times of James Henry Breasted
Friday, May 28 at 8:30 - 9 p.m. (Repeats: Sun., May 30 at 5:30 p.m.)

Chicago -- Since its founding on May 13, 1919, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has been recognized as one of city's most important academic institutions. As the world's leading center for study into the history, culture and languages of the first civilizations, the Oriental Institute is known for its captivating exhibits, constructed largely from archaeological excavations throughout the Middle East, from Turkey to Iran to Egypt.

In celebration of the Oriental Institute's 85th Anniversary, WTTW11 proudly presents two original documentaries which chronicle the history of the Institution and the life of its founder, James Henry Breasted - both produced by Emmy Award-winner Leonard Aronson.

Breaking Ground: The Story of the Oriental Institute, airing Thursday, May 27 at 9:00 p.m., presents an in-depth look into the remarkable history of this academic organization and its dedication to scientific study of the world's first civilizations. Featuring footage from Institute projects at Alalakh, Turkey and Luxor, Egypt, as well as interviews from its Chicago headquarters, Breaking Ground shows how a group of dedicated scholars have reshaped our understanding of the origins of civilization.

Through its public galleries and educational programs, the Oriental Institute continues to dedicate itself to exposing the general public to the earliest civilizations. Using a collection of thousands of ancient tablets, linguists are working to publish definitive dictionaries of the first written languages.

Pioneer To the Past: The Life and Times of James Henry Breasted, airing Friday, May 28 at 8:30 p.m., profiles the young and gifted scholar who founded the Oriental Institute with an initial excavation of 2300 artifacts. Born in Rockford, IL and raised in Downers Grove, Breasted benefited greatly from the support of the University of Chicago's founding president, William Rainey Harper, who encouraged him to take up the new specialty of Egyptology. Most widely known for his coinage of the term, "the Fertile Crescent," which describes the area from Egypt to Mesopotamia, Breasted became the first American to receive a Ph.D. and professorship in Egyptology in the United States. Recognized as a scholar of great intellect and blessed with tremendous charisma, Breasted was able to expound upon the value and relevance of ancient Near Eastern studies in a way that transformed influential listeners into loyal supporters. Breasted's primary supporter, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., enabled Breasted to make the Oriental Institute a place of unparalleled breadth and resources in the academic world. Between his long-term relationship with Rockefeller, and his expansive vision for scientific understanding of the ancient Near East, Breasted created an institution that, to this day, is a global leader in the archaeological, historical, and linguistic study of the ancient Near East.

Breaking Ground: The Story of the Oriental Institute and Pioneer to the Past: The Life and Times of James Henry Breasted are productions of WTTW11, generously underwritten by ComEd, An Exelon Company and LaSalle Bank. Len Aronson, Producer. VJ McAleer, Executive Producer.

For more information, visit our website at www.wttw.com.

Contact:
Shaunese Teamer, WTTW11
773.509.5441