The chronology of early Islam

Wright Lecture Series

The Chronology of Early Islam

Prof. François de Blois

The calendar and the system of timekeeping in Central Arabia at the beginning of Islamic history are discussed extensively in Arabic religious and scientific literature. My paper is an attempt, on the one hand, to confront these data with contemporaneous epigraphic and historic material and, on the other, to assess the arithmetical and astronomical plausibility of the data. This in turn sheds light on the problem of the chronology of early Islam and the reliability or otherwise of the sīra and maghāzī literature.

Digital humanities and text re-use

The concept of text re-use in early Islamic historiography was first brought to my attention by François de Blois, whose courses were always so much more than just an introduction to a language such as Middle Persian. Recently, it has been Sarah Savant, who has drawn attention to text re-use and its application in the study of early Islamic literature. And now there is this very exciting Hackathon taking place in Göttingen in July 2015:

Digital Humanities Hackathon on Text Re-Use

‘Don’t leave your data problems at home!’

The Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities will host a Hackathon targeted at students and researchers with a humanities background who wish to improve their computer skills by working with their own data-set. Rather than teaching everything there is to know about algorithms, the Hackathon will assist participants with their specific data-related problem, so that they can take away the knowledge needed to tackle the issue(s) at hand. The focus of this Hackathon is automatic text re-use detection and aims at engaging participants in intensive collaboration. Participants will be introduced to technologies representing the state of the art in the field and shown the potential of text re-use detection. Participants will also be able to equip themselves with the necessary knowledge to make sense of the output generated by algorithms detecting text re-use, and will gain an understanding of which algorithms best fit certain types of textual data. Finally, participants will be introduced to some text re-use visualisations.

A preview of the first issue of DABIR

I am really excited to announce that the first issue of DABIR is going to be out very soon. The table of contents is here. Working on this journal and issue alongside my friends and colleagues Parsa Daneshmand, Touraj Daryaee, and Shervin Farridnejad has been a great joy and privilege. Below is the official announcement of the preview:

I am happy to announce that a dream that a few of us had has come true. “DABIR: Digital Archive of Brief notes & Iran Review” is ready to be published online.

Many years ago when I was in Iran we began an online journal in Persian and it ran for four volumes, but then it seems that it was too early of an idea. Then the idea was voiced again by my friends, such as Ali Mousavi that we needed journal to publish short notes and in a quick fashion. When I was a fellow in Oxford last year, I spent much time with Parsa Daneshmand who came up with the name of the journal and what it should entail. Peyvand Firouzeh at Cambridge was behind the design and the look of the journal; Scherwin Farridnejad was the other collaborator in making the look of it, as well as the content ready. Also, Khodadad Rezakhani who read and edited papers and gave much help. I have to thank my dear Natasha Rastegari who gave her time to organize and contacted the editorial board without asking anything in return.

Finally, it is Arash Zeini who has spent so much of his time and energy to make this journal see the light of day. I thank the editorial board and contributors for the first volume (some on facebook): Ani Honarchian, Sara Mashayekh, Dominic Brookshaw, Matthew Canepa, Mario Rossi, Giusto Traina, Agnes Korn, Alka Patel, Richard Payne, Rolf Strootman, and Mohsen Zakeri.

I was simply the conductor in this matter and this is what happens when you let people stay in places and think a bit longer than needed (at Oxford: OI coffee room and Cafe Rouge)!

The journal will be part of the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies at UC Irvine and will be published three times in the academic year. It is peer reviewed and free and open access to all. This is the way of the future for academia.

The ToC of the first issue is here.

Touraj Daryaee

B.D. Kochnev Memorial Seminar

coinB.D. Kochnev Memorial Seminar in Central Asian and Middle Eastern Numismatics

Seventh Meeting, March 14, 2015
Hofstra University, Calkins Hall 206

Seminar is free and open to public
Please RSVP to

Session 1
10:00 – 11:00 am

Dmitrii Markov (New York), Aleksandr Naymark (Hofstra University)
“A Hoard of Archaic Greek Coins from the Banks of Amu-Darya. Preliminary Report”

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Workshop: Iran and Islam

Iran and Islam: Early Encounters. Formation of Islam 
and Transformation of Iranian Religious Traditions

12 March 2015 09:00–13 March 2015 18:00, Workshop Room: FNO 02/ 40-46

Contact: Kianoosh Rezania

For more information, see the workshop schedule

Additional Information:
There is no doubt that the contact of Islam with other religions in the very homeland of Islam as well as in the conquered lands played a significant role in its formation. In contrast, the evolving Islam must have challenged the existing religions, transformed them or stimulated them to do so. A great dynamic of renovation and repositioning of religious traditions can be expected in the first centuries of Islam. Therefore, a more in-depth study of this vibrant dynamic of mutual exchange between Islamic and especially Iranian religious traditions is a desideratum which our symposium intends to address.

This workshop will be held in English.

Sasanian royalist ideology

Sasanian royalist ideology and Zoroastrian millennialism

Lecture by François de Blois, University College London, at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge, Friday 06March, 5.30pm.

François de Blois has published widely on Semitic and Iranian languages and on the history of religions in the Near East in pre-modern times. Notably, he contributed to the multi-volume work Persian Literature, which had been initiated by C.A. Storey and published by the Royal Asiatic Society. He served as Professor of Iranian Studies at Hamburg University from 2002 to 2003. Currently he is a research fellow at University College London where he is engaged in a major project on al-Biruni’s Chronology and other Arabic texts on non-Islamic calendars. He is also a teaching fellow for Aramaic and Middle Iranian languages at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has been a frequent contributor to the Encyclopaedia of Islam.

All welcome. Refreshments from 5pm.

Ancient India & Iran Trust
23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 8BG

Eleventh Biennial Iranian Studies Conference

University of Vienna

Tuesday-Friday, 2–5 August 2016

Conference Information

The International Society for Iranian Studies (ISIS) is pleased to announce that the Eleventh Biennial Iranian Studies Conference will be held in Vienna, Austria from August 2-5, 2016 at the University of Vienna. Onsite registration begins on the 2nd and the program extends until the evening of the 5th.

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Afghanistan Digital Library

The immediate objective of the Afghanistan Digital Library is to retrieve and restore the first sixty years of Afghanistan’s published cultural heritage. The project is collecting, cataloging, digitizing, and making available over the Internet as many Afghan publications from the period 1871–1930 as it is possible to identify and locate.