Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 6th-century Derbent (Darband) fortification complex is considered the largest defensive structure of Sasanian Persia (Iran) in the Caucasus. “Derbent: What Persia Left Behind”, also explores the unique architecture of the massive fortress, and how it has been preserved for some fifteen centuries by Persian, Arab, Turkish and Russian rulers. Built strategically in the narrowest area between the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea, the fortification includes the northernmost Middle Persian (Pahlavi) inscriptions in the world, which are in danger of destruction. The 42-km defence wall of the complex that extended toward the Black Sea had already been destroyed in the Soviet era.
The interactive film of the Performance of the High Zoroastrian Ceremony of Yasna
Open Access to the full film of the performance of the most solemn Zoroastrian ceremony the standard Yasna with the dedicatory of Mīnō Nāwar (the version edited by Geldner), the film is prepared in the frame of the multi-disciplinary Multimedia Yasna project (MuYa), based at SOAS, University of London and funded by the European Research Council (ERC) with an Advanced Investigator Grant (2016-2022), which had as its focus the Yasna – the core ritual of the Zoroastrian religion:
“You can watch the film at different speeds by moving the dot on the speed line below the Chapter and Stanza & Subsection tabs. The recording of this film was made in November 2017 at the Dadar Athornan Institute in Mumbai. The two priests, who performed the ceremony are the late Ervad Asphandiarji Dadachanji and Ervad Adil Bhesania.”
The Multimedia Yasna (MUYA)
The Multimedia Yasna (MUYA) examines the performance and written transmission of the core ritual of the Zoroastrian tradition, the Yasna, whose oldest parts date from the second millennium BCE. Composed in an ancient Iranian language, Avestan, the texts were transmitted orally and not written down until the fifth or sixth century CE. The oral tradition continues to be central to the religion, and the daily Yasna ceremony, the most important of all the rituals, is recited from memory by Zoroastrian priests. The interpretation of the Yasna has long been hampered by out-dated editions and translations of the text and until now there has been no documentation and study of the performance of the full ritual. The project MUYA examines both the oral and written traditions. It has filmed a performance of the Yasna ritual and created a critical edition of the recitation text examining the Yasna both as a performance and as a text attested in manuscripts. The two approaches have been integrated to answer questions about the meaning and function of the Yasna in a historical perspective.
Combining models and methodologies from digital humanities, philology and linguistics, the project has produced a subtitled, interactive film of the Yasna ritual, an online platform of transcribed manuscripts, editorial tools, digital transcriptions of manuscripts and digital editions with a text-critical apparatus, and with print editions, translations and commentaries of the Yasna. Information which was formerly restricted to students of Iranian philology and practising Zoroastrians has now become accessible to a world-wide audience through digital humanities. The project, based at SOAS, University of London and funded by the European Research Council, ran from October 2016 to September 2022. It was headed by Professor Almut Hintze and included an international team of researchers in the UK, Germany, India and Iran.
Olbrycht, Marek. 2021. Orodes II. In Encyclopædia Iranica Online, edited by Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York.
ORODES II (r. 58/57-37 BCE), king of Parthia, son of Phraates III (r. 70-57 BCE), and father of Phraates IV (q.v.). During his reign, the empire of the Arsacids (q.v.) reached the zenith of its power and scored significant victories against Rome.
SOAS is offering an online course that explores ‘the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism, its languages, and the challenges faced by Zoroastrian communities today’. The course is taught by Dr Sarah Stewart and Dr Celine Redard.
یک دوره چهار هفتهای برای آشنایی با دین زرتشتی، زبانهای وابسته و چالشهایی که جوامع زرتشتی امروز با آنها روبرو هستند.
Berkeley Working Papers in Middle Iranian Philology is a new open access e-journal hosted by UC Berkeley’s Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and edited by Adam Benkato and Arash Zeini. It publishes short and longer articles or research reports on the philology and epigraphy of Middle Iranian languages (Middle Persian, Parthian, Bactrian, Sogdian, Chorasmian, Khotanese). Submitted papers will be reviewed by the editors and published on an ongoing basis. The journal promotes a simple and quick publishing process with collective annual volumes published at the end of each year.
The editors encourage scholars working on Middle Persian documents in particular to submit their work.
The exhibition, The Sogdians: Influencers on the Silk Roads, explores Sogdian art through existing material culture. It focuses on the golden age of the Sogdians, from the fourth to the eighth centuries CE. Various dimensions of Sogdian culture, from art, music, and feasting to religious and funerary practices, are presented in this digital exhibition. New 3-D models of metalwork objects, photographs of archaeological sites, high resolution images and international scholarship reveal new details about this period.
In 2019 the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery lunched a digital exhibition devoted to the Sogdians, major traders of the ancient Silk Roads, organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s Asian art museums in collaboration with the State Hermitage Museum, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (NYU), XE: Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement (NYU), the Bard Graduate Center, and the Association Sauvegarde Peinture Afrasiab.
We are delighted to host another article by Adam Benkato, our long-standing collaborator and friend.
In Some Data on Publications on Sogdian, Adam uses his extensive bibliography of Sogdian philology, containing 624 entries for publications from 1904 to 2020, to show ‘how a field has grown or developed over time’.
He had previously published this article on his own website but has now moved it to Bibliographia Iranica, where we are planning to host a series of publications on bibliographies. Stay tuned for more from Adam and others.