Public and academic interest in the Yezidis, their religion and culture, has increased greatly in recent years. The study of Yezidism has also made considerable progress in recent decades. Still, several lacunae in our knowledge remain, notably concerning many concrete aspects of the textual tradition. This book is a comprehensive study of the Yezidi religious textual tradition, containing descriptions of many hitherto unknown aspects of the oral transmission of Yezidi religious knowledge. It presents a detailed account of the ‘mechanisms’ underlying various aspects of the tradition. It shows how the religious textual tradition functioned – and to a certain degree still does – in its pre-modern way, and also describes the transformations it is currently undergoing, including the issues and processes involved in the increasing trend to commit religious knowledge to writing, and indeed to create a written Canon. The work contains several hitherto unpublished texts and the most comprehensive survey to date of the extant Yezidi sacred texts. It includes four maps, a glossary of terms and a list of Yezidi lineages, and is accompanied by a CD with an extensive collection of recordings of texts (208 minutes).
One of the most intriguing literary passages relating to Sasanian coins is in al-Tabari’s, famous History. A number of questions about his ‘evil conduct’ are put to the former king of kings, Khusru II, shortly after his overthrow in 628. One concerns Khusru’s methods of tax gathering and his harsh treatment of his subjects. Khusru’s reply is important to numismatists as it contains the comment that he ordered ‘the engraving of new dies for coins, so that we might give our orders for beginning the minting of new silver [drachms] with them’. Khusru adds that he gave this order ‘at the end of year thirteen [602/3] of our reign’. The meaning of this passage and the remarkable coinage reforms of the early seventh century are explored in depth.
Khusru II’s long reign and the numerous mints operating under him ensure that his drachms are the commonest in the Sasanian series. Over 90% of the enormous ‘Shiraz’ or ‘Year 12’ hoard was probably formed of Khusru’s coins dating between 591 and 602. A parcel of 562 coins from this hoard forms the springboard for the current study. This establishes the precise sequence of the types, the date of the introduction of the enigmatic apd legend and discusses the subsequent hoarding of Khusru’s coins. The latest mint attributions are discussed.
By contrast the coinage of Khusru’s contemporary and rival, the usurper Vistahm, is scarce. Its numerous varieties, from two mints, contrast with Khusru’s centralised minting system which produced a highly standardised, tightly controlled, coinage. Vistahm’s coins are the subject of a special study with all the known dies illustrated.
The latest issue of Written Monuments of the Orient (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts; Asiatic Museum; Russian Academy of Sciences), with two articles regarding the Middle Iranian Studies has been published:
Chunakova, Olga Mikhailovna, Federico Dragoni & Enrico Morano. 2017. A forgotten Manichaean Sogdian bifolio in Sogdian script. Written Monuments of the Orient 1(5). 3–25.
The present paper consists of the first edition, translation and commentary of a Manichaean Sogdian bifolio, whose photos are preserved in the Nachlass of Academician Carl H. Salemann at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, RAS (St. Petersburg). The present location of the bifolio is unknown. One joining fragment has been found in the Berlin Turfan collection during the preliminary work on this edition. Two relatively long portions of Manichaean didactic treatises are extant and do not correspond to any known text. The first (I) is a Lehrtext on the duties of Manichaean monks living in a monastery. The second (II) contains the fourth and part of a fifth question, followed by answers, of a catechetical text concerning the fate of the body and of the soul after death.
Benkato, Adam. 2017. Sogdian letter fragments in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, St. Petersburg. Written Monuments of the Orient 1(5). 26–39.
Among the Sogdian fragments from Turfan preserved in the IOM collections are a handful of epistolary texts. A new edition of these fragments is presented here as part of the author’s ongoing project on Sogdian letters from Turfan.
The Manichaean communities in Turfan (in modern-day Xinjiang, China) produced numerous texts in many languages, including Sogdian, an eastern Middle Iranian language. The present work is an edition and literary-critical study of the longest continuous Manichaean text in Sogdian, known as the Āzandnāmē, or Parable-Book. The Parable-Book preserves parts of three parables which illuminate various aspects of Manichaean teaching by means of a narrative followed by an explanation. A new and expanded edition of the Sogdian text, with English translation and philological commentary, forms the first part of this study.
Along with sermons, hymns, and confessionals, parables were one of the major genres of non-canonical texts produced by Manichaeans in Central Asian communities, surviving in Middle Persian, Parthian, and Old Turkic, as well as Sogdian. In the second part of this study, a new approach to the study of Manichaean parables is presented, taking into account their intertextuality as part of a genre that can only exist in interdependence on all other genres of Manichaean literature. This approach allows new light to be shed on the text of the Āzandnāmē while also investigating how and for which purposes the parables were produced and used.
This work is intended for specialists of Manichaeism and/or Sogdian philology, as well as those with interests in Iranian philology or religions in Central Asia more generally.
Adam Benkato, Ph.D. (2015) is an scholar of Middle Iranian and specificly Manichaean and Sogdian Studies. From 2015-16 he was a Researcher at the Turfan Studies Project, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and is presently a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin.
Established in the third century BC, the multi-cultural and multi-lingual Arsacid Empire became Rome’s major opponent in the East from the first century BC to its end in the third century AD. According to a Roman idea, the orbis was evenly divided between the Parthians and the Romans. However, in the Arsacid Empire oral tradition prevailed and, for a long time, there was no Arsacid historiography concerning perception, reception and interpretation. Therefore, Greco-Roman views and images of the Parthians, Arsacids and their Empire predominated.
Focusing on literary depictions in ancient Greek and Roman literature and examining stereotypes, this volume brings together twelve papers on Greco-Roman perceptions and images of the Arsacid Empire. Part I consists of eight papers primarily concerned with re-assessments of Apollodorus of Artemita and Isidorus of Charax regarding their value as source of information on the Arsacid Empire. Part II contains four papers dealing with the images of the Arsacid Empire in the works of Josephus, Trogus-Justin, Tacitus and Arrian, viewed against their respective socio-political and cultural background.
Elsner, Jas. 2017. Images of Mithra (Visual Conversations In Art And Archaeology 1). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
With a history of use extending back to Vedic texts of the second millennium BC, derivations of the name Mithra appear in the Roman Empire, across Sasanian Persia, and in the Kushan Empire of southern Afghanistan and northern India during the first millennium AD. Even today, this name has a place in Yazidi and Zoroastrian religion. But what connection have Mihr in Persia, Miiro in Kushan Bactria, and Mithras in the Roman Empire to one another?
Myths on the Origin of Language or on the Plurality of Languages
08.02-09.02.2017, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
Session 1: The Tower of Babel
Hindy Najman: “The origin of language and the Tower of Babel”
Florentina Geller: “The Tower of Babel from parabiblical sources”
Session 2: Ancient Greece and Rome
Filippomaria Pontani: “Greek and Roman materials”
Comments by Glenn Most.
Session 3: Iran and India
Shervin Farridnejad: “The Language of the Gods: Some Reflections on the Origin of the Language in Zoroastrianism”
Roy Tzohar: “Language originated in dreams: Why Indian Buddhists do not have (almost) any myths about the creation of Languages”
Comments by Sonja Brentjes
Session 4: China and Inner Asia
Wolfgang Behr: “Some Ideas on the Origin of Language in Late Imperial China,” with a few words on early China”
Mårten Söderblom Saarela: “Accounts of the invention of scripts in Inner Asia”
Comments by Dagmar Schäfer
About the working group:
This working group brings together around a dozen historians and philologists with diverse kinds of linguistic expertise to discuss the relation between plurilingualism and the creation and reception of monolingual and plurilingual texts in various Eurasian societies. Through joint readings and translation the group explores how the text is affected by its origin in a plurilingual society and, conversely, the effect plurilingualism has on reading practices and on a “polyglot’s” understanding of the text (its concepts and ideals). In the past – as much as in the present – the majority of people in the world, and most probably most elite communities, were enmeshed in plurilingual practices. Elites from India to the Central Asia plains, Bengali Zamindars, Parsi businessmen, and scholarly travellers and the politically privileged inhabitants around the Mediterranean or the East Asian seas used two or more languages on a daily basis. Plurilingualism was widespread and a common response to the phenomenon of great linguistic diversity, not necessarily in the sense of language mastery, but rather in the form of effective negotiation of the immediate exigencies of communication. Seeking to better understand this dynamic, the seminar investigates topics such as the impact of filtering information through varied languages; the interplay between declarative and procedural knowledge; methods and means of classification; covert translations and covert multilingualism in monolingual texts; and scholarly ideals regarding reading, writing, and linguistic media, be they purportedly perfect or original languages or newly minted would-be rational or universal languages.
Threads of Continuity Focuses on the philosophy and cultur of the ancient Zoroastrian faith from its origins i Central Asia, tracing a geographical and chronological continum till the present. This philosophy became a part of the lived heritage of the Zoroastrian community — both in India and Iran.
Of dpecial interest are the cross-cultural influences of the comunity in India. To highlight these, Gujarat and the Deccan will be examined in detail for the first time.
A part of this compendium also studies the contribution of the community to the making of modern India. The programme envisaged, attempts to explain the Zoroastrian philodophy of a sacred thread linking all creation.