Avestan I

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Religions and Philosophies

Module overview

This course is an introduction to Avestan, the language of the earliest Zoroastrian texts. It is designed to provide students with a clear understanding of the basic principles of the Avestan language in a way that enables them to translate simple Avestan texts and to analyse their grammar. Students who complete the course successfully will be able to handle simple primary sources of the Zoroastrian religion in the original Avestan and to assess critically translations made by various scholars.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • parse Avestan words correctly following a standard pattern consistently
  • translate a simple and more complex Avestan text into English
  • comment on grammatical and interpretive features of Avestan words and phrases
  • critically assess divergent interpretations of words and phrases put forward by different scholars
  • use a wide range of grammars and dictionaries of Avestan at an advanced level
  • demonstrate detailed knowledge of Avestan literature


2 hours of classes per week over 22 weeks.

Method of assessment

One Exam - (80%).

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

Suggested reading

  • Hoffmann, K.: "Avestan language" in E. Yarshater (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica III (1989) 47-62
  • Jackson, A. V. W.: An Avestan Grammar in Comparison with Sanskrit. Part 1: Phonology, Inflection, Word-Formation. With an Introduction on the Avesta. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1892
  • Kellens, J.: "Avesta" in E. Yarshater (ed.), Encyclopaedia Iranica III (1989) 35-44
  • Reichelt, H.: Avesta Reader. Texts, Notes, Glossary and Index. Strassburg, 1911


Almut Hintze


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