SOAS University of London

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

Mythical Time in Mesopotamia, The Past in the Present: Unlocking an Ancient Zoroastrian Ritual with Cutting-Edge Technology

Andrew George, Almut Hintze

Date: 17 October 2018Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 17 October 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: S209

Type of Event: Seminar

Andrew George: “Mythical Time in Mesopotamia”

By Mythical Time in Mesopotamia is meant the period from the emergence of the cosmos to the remaking of the world after the flood. This era, when the Babylonians believed that gods walked the earth, is the backdrop to Sumerian and Akkadian myths of creation and organisation. Formerly this mythology has usually been arranged and explored text by text. The methodological approach taken in this paper is to organise the mythology chronologically — not by the antiquity and language of the poems in which the mythology is elaborated, but by the place of the myths they relate in a reconstructed narrative of mythical time, from creation to flood. Separating myth from text has the advantage of placing on an equal footing myths that are elaborated in narrative form and myths that are reported only by allusion. One outcome is the identification of a cosmogonic tradition that is newly visible across more than two thousand years of history, from the mid-third millennium to the Greek author Berossos.

Almut Hintze: “The Past in the Present: Unlocking an Ancient Zoroastrian Ritual with Cutting-Edge Technology”.

Abstract: Up to the present day Zoroastrian priests perform a millennia old ritual, the Yasna, in which the recitation of ancient Avestan texts accompanies the performance of ritual actions. This ritual is at the heart of the tradition as it includes the recitation of the most sacred texts, the so-called hymns of Zarathushtra. However, the words which the priests recite are very hard to make out and their relationship to the ritual actions is little understood. Moreover, no edition and translation of the complete Yasna is currently available. The Multimedia Yasna, short: MUYA, a SOAS project funded by the European Research Council with an Advanced Investigator Grant, proposes to fill these gaps by producing a sub-titled interactive film of the Yasna ritual and a state-of-the-art edition with translation and commentary based on the manuscript while developing digital tools for electronic editing. In addition, MUYA is producing the ritual in Virtual Reality, thus enabling the viewer to experience the ritual by full immersion. This talk highlights the main features of MUYA.

Organiser: Catherine Hezser

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