The Everlasting Flame

Sogdian Ashem VohuThe study of Zoroastrianism is nothing new to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. A number of formative figures in Iranian Studies have taught at SOAS: W. Henning, M. Boyce, D. N. MacKenzie, J. Hinnells, N. Sims-Williams, F. de Blois. And it houses the only endowed chair in Zoroastrian studies (A. Hintze). The Brunei Gallery at SOAS has been the home of ‘The Everlasting Flame‘ for the past three months, which is even by the standards of SOAS a unique event. See my interview with Sarah Stewart.

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.

Further engaging the paradigm of Late Antiquity

Pourshariati, Parvaneh. 2013. Introduction: Further engaging the paradigm of Late Antiquity. Journal of Persianate Studies 6. 1–14.

In her excellent introduction to the latest volume of Journal of Persianate Studies, a special issue, Pourshariati discusses the problem of periodisation in the study of Iranian history. Read the article here.

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.

Zoroastrians – Washingtonpost.com

Washingtonpost.com has a multimedia-like feature on Zoroastrians in Iran. A quick scan of the first page does not reveal any date for the feature, but I think it could be from the year 2000 or so. It is available in an HTML and a flash version. Enjoy it:

Among the Zoroastrians – Washingtonpost.com

Review: Die Schiiten

Vor etwa zehn Tagen habe ich beim Stöbern in der VUB “Die Schiiten” von Professor Heinz Halm entdeckt. Das Buch ist im Jahre 2005 in der Reihe WISSEN bei C. H. Beck erschienen. Bereits beim ersten Durchblättern fiel mir die klare Gliederung des Buches auf. Und das Inhaltsverzeichnis lockte mit Kapitelüberschriften wie: “Die Basis der Macht der Mollas” oder “Monarchie und Klerus als Rivalen”. Obwohl die Zeit nicht günstig war, konnte ich der Versuchung nicht widerstehen und mußte es kaufen.

Das Buch hält, was das Inhaltsverzeichnis indirekt verspricht. Das Thema wird sehr klar und wissenschaftlich angegangen. Die wichtigsten Themenbereiche werden angesprochen, und der Autor vermittelt eine sehr klare Übersicht über die geschichtliche Entwicklung der Schia. Neben der religionsgeschichtlichen Darstellung werden die Beziehungen zwischen den ethnisch verschiedenen Schiiten der Region dargestellt. Dabei wird die Bedeutung des Schiitentums für die iranische Revolution von 1979 und umgekehrt sehr deutlich. “Theologische” Grundsätze der Schia werden klar und verständlich beschrieben. Der Stil ist ansprechend und macht die Lektüre des Buches zum reinen wissenschaftlichen Genuß.

Eine komplexe religiöse Strömung auf 128 Seiten so klar und deutlich darzustellen, ist eine wahre Kunst.