Ursula Sims-Williams

Ursula Sims-Williams, Lead Curator, Persian and Turkic collections
Lead Curator, Persian collections
Pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia; Zoroastrianism; Mughal India
Related Offices
Library representative on Middle East Libraries Committee and other professional bodies; Trustee of the Ancient India & Iran Trust, Cambridge; Affiliated Researcher of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge

My main interests are in the material cultures of Pre-Islamic Iran and Central Asia, Zoroastrianism, and Mughal India.

In recent years I have worked extensively on the Iranian manuscripts in the Stein and Hoernle Central Asian collections in the British Library. Currently I am in charge of a project to provide Digital Access to our collection of over 12,000 Persian manuscripts. I have curated a number of exhibitions, most recently Alexander the Great: Making of a Myth, British Library 2022-2023, Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, British Library, 2012-2013, The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination, Brunei Gallery SOAS, 2013 and an expanded Everlasting Flame exhibited in collaboration with SOAS and the National Museum, New Delhi, 2016.



  • 'The official and personal seals of Tipu Sultan of Mysore.' Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (2021) pp.1-16. Doi:10.1017/S1356186321000158
  • 'Collections within collections: an analysis of Tipu Sultan’s Library.' Iran  (2021)Doi: 10.1080/05786967.2021.1911760
  • 'The Imperial Library of the Mughals: the British Library Collections'. In Reflections on Mughal Art & Culture, ed. R. Ahluwalia (Delhi: Niyogi Books, 2021), pp. 104-131
  • 'Manuscript collectors and collections from the Southern Silk Road', Annual Report of The International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology at Soka University, 21 (2018): 273-289 
  • The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination. [Supplement] (National Museum, New Delhi, 2016) [with Sarah Stewart and Firoza Punthakey Mistree]
  • 'The discovery and decipherment of Sogdian in the early 20th century' (in Chinese). In Sute ren zai Zhongguo: kao gu fa xian yu chu tu wen xian de xin yin zheng = Sogdians in China: new evidence in archaeological finds and unearthed texts, ed. by Rong Xinjiang and Luo Feng, vol 2 (Beijing: Science Press, 2016), pp. 429-435
  • 'Rustam and his zīn-i palang'. In From Aṣl to Zāʼid: Essays in Honour of Éva M. Jeremiaś, ed. by I. Szánto (Piliscsaba: Avicenna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, 2015), pp. 249-58 [with Nicholas Sims-Williams]
  • 'Zoroastrian Manuscripts in the British Library, London'. InThe Transmission of the Avesta, ed. by A. Cantera (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2012), pp. 173-94
  • 'The old curiosity shop in Khotan', The Silk Road , 8 (2010): 69-96 [with Daniel Waugh]
  • 'The strange story of Samuel Guise: an 18th-century collection of Zoroastrian manuscripts', Bulletin of the Asia Institute, 19 (2005 [2009]): 199-209

Complete list of publications by Ursula Sims-Williams

Electronic publications


  • Alexander the Great: The Making of a Myth (2022)
  • The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination (National Museum New Delhi, 2016)
  • The Everlasting Flame: Zoroastrianism in History and Imagination (Brunei Gallery SOAS, 2013)
  • Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire (2012-2013)
  • The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (2009)
  • Zoroaster: wise man of the East (2005)
  • The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith (2004)


Middle East

Manuscripts, printed books, newspapers and journals from the Middle East, Iran and Central Asia