SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

The Bactrian Archives as a Source for the History and Historical Geography of Afghanistan

Prof Nicholas Sims-Williams (SOAS, University of London)

Date: 12 September 2017Time: 9:30 AM

Finishes: 12 September 2017Time: 12:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Workshop


From 1991 onwards, more than 150 documents in Bactrian, the principal administrative language of pre-Islamic Afghanistan, have appeared on the international art market. Many of these documents, for the most part legal contracts and letters, are dated in years ranging from 110 to 549 of an unspecified era. With them are associated some 32 Arabic documents dated in the years 138-160 A.H., some of which refer to persons who are also known from the latest of the Bactrian documents.

This presentation will be divided into three parts. The first will be concerned with the synchronisms which may allow one to establish the starting-point of the Bactrian era and thus to interpret the dates of the dated documents. The second will be devoted to evidence for the relative and absolute chronology of the numerous undated Bactrian documents, while the third will be an examination of the various regions of Afghanistan from which the documents derive.

Having established where and when the Bactrian documents were written, one can begin to make sense of the fragments of history which each of them contains.


Registration is required of all participants

Organiser: SOAS, University of London

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4892/3

Sponsor: European Research Council