Servant or Slave

Sheikh, Hossein. 2023. Servant or slave: The Old Persian words Bandaka, Marika and Daha and their cognates in Middle Iranian languages. In: Jeannine Bischoff, Stephan Conermann and Marion Gymnich (eds.), Naming, defining, phrasing strong asymmetrical dependencies: A textual approach, 55-67. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.

In this paper, I will briefly examine the concept of superiority/inferiority in the Achaemenid administrative system in particular and in the ancient Iranian world in general. In doing so, I will focus on the word bandaka, its meanings and its nuance in Iranian languages in the context of ancient Near Eastern culture, as this word plays a very important role in the definition of terminology related to slavery and associated terms in the Iranian world. In addition, I will discuss two additional words related to this topic that shed more light on the concept of superiority/inferiority in Ancient Iranian societies. Our main sources for this study are inscriptions, letters and contracts from a variety of Western and Central Asian cultures. In this study, I chose three Middle Iranian languages, Sogdian, Pahlavi, and Bactrian, because the geography in which these languages were spoken was a part of the Achaemenid Empire.