Sasanian elites and kinship ties

I found Prof. Macuch’s lecture at the FAMES, entitled Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances in Sasanian Law, very engaging. The lecture was in two parts. First, she gave an overview of the  Sasanian interpretation of kinship and discussed wealth, property management and inheritance. In the clearly structured introduction she defined the various models of matrimony such as fully qualified marriage, proxy, temporary and fictive marriages and their purposes. In the shorter second part she interpreted the social purpose of these legal institutions. She argued that the complex Sasanian legal system was carried by the Zoroastrian clergy and served to protect the elites’ wealth, preventing it from passing to commoners. In her view, the protection of wealth in this manner resulted in a two class society with a severe imbalance of wealth. She closed her lecture with the suggestion that this imbalance of wealth may have contributed to the collapse of the Sasanian Empire in the wake of the Islamic conquests.

CoAv 2.0: Day One

In 2011, when we met for CoAv 1.0, a lot of time and attention were dedicated to organisational matters. Groups were formed, members expressed their interest in texts and types of activities, etc. We have come a long way, and CoAv 2.0 is dedicated to questions pertaining to the study of Zoroastrian manuscripts.

The first day started with a brief summary of each team’s activities since CoAv 1.0. The range of topics discussed on day one was impressive and included prolegomena, palaeography, orthography, colophons, scribal schools and mythologies behind the long liturgy. The Salamanca team, our hosts, presented their systematic approach to the study of the manuscripts. Individuals of this team each work on issues of palaeography, orthography and the colophons. The collective results will inform the forthcoming prolegomena to a new edition of the Avesta. Thanks to the efforts of Alberto Cantera and his collaborators a considerable number of previously unknown manuscripts have been uncovered, and our knowledge of their transmission is continuously improving. The combined results of the study of the colophons, palaeography and orthography bring also to light interesting details about the scribal culture of Iranian Zoroastrians and the community’s history. Around 65 manuscripts are now available online and many more will be made accessible in the near future.

Other participants discussed their work on the Sanskrit Yasna and computational methods for generating manuscript stemmas.

Corpus Avesticum 2.0

The second meeting of the European research network Corpus Avesticum 2.0 (CoAv) will take place in Salamanca. Between 28 and 30 November researchers from Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK will meet at Europe’s third oldest university to discuss various projects in preparation of a new edition of the Avesta.

CoAv 1.0, where the research network was formed, took place in 2011 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Conference on Digital Islamic Humanities

The Asian and African studies blog of the British Library has a very useful summary of the recent conference, The Digital Humanities + Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, which was organised and hosted by the Middle Eastern Studies Department of Brown University. The overview has links to some of the papers, slides and project websites.

Webcasts of both days are available on the conference website.