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A safe haven for Syrians

30 people within Cambridge, and another 40 in the surrounding areas have pledged to house refugees. This is just within the last few days and to just one organisation. Another 5,495 have volunteered within the UK to help once the refugees arrive. Please help to increase these numbers. Pledge your support here:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/uk_refugees_volunteer_thank_you_3/

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“Thinking of going to Calais?”

If you are planning to go to Calais as a volunteer, please read this piece by Alison Playford.

Thinking of going to Calais? I’ve just got back and would like to share some thoughts with you.

It appears that a large wave of European citizens are in the process of taking ‘aid’ to Calais and other areas in Europe where migrants and refugees are camped or travelling.

People in the UK and across Europe who are distressed to see pictures of drowned children want to help. I am glad to see this response, but would like to add a few points to the debate, as I think that we are in danger of perpetuating the problem by framing the situation through the political lens of those who created it.

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Panini, Sanskrit and software development

BBC Radio 4 is currently exploring aspects of Indian history based on biographies of 50 important Indian historical figures: Incarnations: India in 50 Lives. Yesterday’s programme happened to be on the Indian grammarian Panini, whose grammar—according to this programme—played a pivotal role in making Sanskrit the lingua franca of South Asia for more than a millennium.

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A new bibliographic blog!

As was planned, I have now moved this blog to a new location at Bibliographia Iranica. While purpose and scope remain largely the same, the new blog will be maintained by Sajad Amiri, Shervin Farridnejad, Yazdan Safaee and myself (Arash Zeini). I hope that we will be able to post more frequently on the new blog. On Facebook, the posts will be available on a dedicated page called Bibliographia Iranica. A Twitter account and Google+ page are forthcoming. Please do send us information about events and publications that you would like to see on the blog.

Thank you very much to all friends and colleagues who liked the idea of this bibliographic blog, encouraging me to widen its scope. And many thanks to Sajad, Shervin and Yazdan for agreeing to collaborate on the new site.

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Getting to know Sogdian: Major epigraphy

Adam Benkato’s much anticipated second part of his excellent introduction to Sogdian is now online. In this part he talks about Sogdian epigraphy.

Read the second part of the introduction here.

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Getting to know Sogdian

When I started this bibliographic blog my main goal was to keep things simple, hoping that a modest and well-defined goal would allow me to update the site on a regular basis. I am very excited that with the help of my SOAS colleague and friend, Adam Benkato, we now take a first step towards hosting original content. Adam has written a very useful introduction to Sogdian, of which I post the first part today. The goal of this and hopefully forthcoming introductions is to offer brief and somewhat informal overviews. We hope that scholars from neighbouring disciplines and non-specialists will find them useful.

Read the first part of the introduction here.

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Richard N. Frye

Richard Neslon Frye, the Aga Khan Professor of Iranian Studies Emeritus, who passed away on 27 March 2014, has unfortunately become the subject of a political row in Iran. It is good to remember him for what he was, a scholar with a unique and refreshing style and a sharp eye for methodology:

There is always the danger in Avestan studies of seizing upon a device or a theory as the key to the understanding of that enigmatic book to the exclusion of all contrary evidence (which is declared corrupt and untrustworthy), proclaiming that the true meaning of the Avesta lies in this key. Johannes Hertel is the shining example of a competent Indo-Iranian philologist who proposed his Feuerlehre as the key to the understanding of both the Avesta and the Vedas. His ubiquitous fire was not taken seriously by others but his linguistic skill in support of fire was impressive. Just as Th. Noeldeke said of Pahlavi, “In Pehlewi stumpfen wir alle”, so the Avesta may drive all who study it slightly mad.

Frye, Richard Nelson. 1960. Georges Dumézil and the translators of the Avesta. Numen 7(2). 161–171.

See here for an obituary at the HARVARDgazette and here for one by Burzine Waghmar.

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Mantiq al-tayr ‘The Speech of the Birds’

Among the recently digitised Persian manuscripts of the British Library is the manuscript BL Add. 7735, an illustrated copy of Farīd al-Dīn ‘Aṭṭār’s Manṭiq al-ṭayr ‘The Speech of the Birds’. The Asian and African studies blog of the British Library discusses this manuscript and the Manṭiq al-ṭayr in a multi-part blog, featuring superb miniatures.

To find out more, see part 1, 2, 34.

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Introduction to TEI and oXygen

As part of our group’s ongoing engagement with the Yasna, I will be leading a one day workshop on TEI and oXygen. This is an internal meeting with the aim of introducing the participants of the Yasna project to the ideas behind encoding texts and exploring features offered by the oXygen XML editor.

This is the first session in a series of meetings to be held at the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge.

Date & time: Saturday 25 Jan 2014; 14:00–18:00
Location: AIIT, Cambridge

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