SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Avestan I

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Full Year

This course is an introduction to Avestan, the language of the earliest sacred texts of the Zoroastrians. No prior knowledge of the subject is required. The course is based on lessons covering basic grammar.

The course is based on lessons covering basic grammar. Students will be asked to do weekly homework. Some memorization of grammar and vocabulary will be necessary.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The objective of this course is to provide students with a clear understanding of the basic principles of the Avestan language in a way that will enable them to translate simple Avestan texts and to analyse the words from a grammatical point of viw.

Students who complete this course successfully will be able to handle simply primary resources of the Zoroastrian religion in the original, Avestan language and assess critically translations made by various scholars. 


1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar each week.

Method of assessment

One Exam - (80%).

Two end of term tests (term 1 and 2) - (20%) - 10% each test.

Suggested reading

  • Hoffmann, K. 1989. Avestan language. In: E. Yarshater (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica III 47–62.
  • Hoffmann, K. & Forssman, B. 2004. Avestische Laut- und Formenlehre. 2nd edition. Innsbruck (Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft 84).
  • Kellens, J. 1989. Avestique. In: R. Schmitt (ed.), Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 32–55.
  • Sims-Williams, N. 1998. “The Iranian languages.” In: A. Giacalone Ramat/P. Ramat (eds.): The Indo-European languages. London, pp. 125–153.
  • Skjærvø, P.O. 2007. Avestan and Old Persian Morphology. In: A.S. Kaye (ed.), Morphologies of Asia and Africa. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, vol.2, 853–940.
  • Skjærvø, P.O. 2009. Iranian Languages. In: K. Brown and S. Ogilvie (eds.), Concise Encyclopaedia of Languages of the World. Boston, Oxford: Elsevier, 537–542.
  • Tucker, E. 2009. Indo-Iranian. In: K. Brown and S. Ogilvie (eds.), Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World. Boston, Oxford: Elsevier, 531–535.


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