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Archaic Iranian Cultures Re-Discovered: the Italian Expedition into the Valley of Yaghnob, Tajikistan

Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Antonio C. D. Panaino, Universität Bologna Direktor des Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente (Sezione Emilia-Romagna) ZAS-Seminar, Nr. 5

29.04.2010, 13:30
Achtung - Veranstaltungsort geändert:
Seminarraum 3, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
Wohllebengasse 12-14/Erdgeschoß, 1040 Wien


It is well known that small groups of Iranian-speaking mountaineers living in the uppermost area of the Zarafshan river in the Yaghnob Valley, Republic of Tajikistan, still use an archaic dialect directly descended from a branch of the Soghdian language (spoken along the Silk Road in Late Antiquity and early Middle Ages). Presently, about 500 persons still live in 16 villages, while their other inhabitations have been completely abandoned. Since four years, the University of Bologna, starting from its base in Samarkand, has developed a project dedicated to the preservation of the cultural heritage in the Yaghnob area – with an active support of the Institute of Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and other internationally renowned scholarly institutions. The scholarly Director of this project is Prof. Dr. Antonio PANAINO; in the course of the last years, three large missions have taken place. The hope of the organizers is to create an Ethno-Cultural and Archaeological Park in the Valley of Yaghnob, under the protection of UNESCO and that of the Tajik State. Meanwhile, the survival of the Yaghnobis in their homeland has become an important aim of Tajikistan as well as of the International Community. This ethnic group has preserved fascinating historical monuments and its unique natural character can be considered as living witness of the secular history of the Silk Road. The lecture will be accompanied with rich illustrative material and will emphasize various important aspects of the field research into the culture and language of the Yaghnobis – new archaeological discoveries, ethnological and anthropological materials, linguistic documentation and testimonies of social and economic history of this small but extremely interesting Iranian people. Antonio C. D. PANAINO (born 1961) is Full Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of Bologna and Director of the Italian Institute for Africa and the East (Section Emilia-Romagna). He was President of the Societas Iranologica Europaea and Dean of the Faculty of Conservation of Cultural Heritage at the University of Bologna. Prof. Panaino works on several cooperation projects with the Austrian Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Iranian Studies . In the monograph series Veröffentlichungen zur Iranistik of the Austrian Academy of Sciences he has published two books; a third monograph will appear in 2010:

  • PANAINO, Antonio: Rite, parole et pensée dans l'Avesta ancien et recent (Vienna 2005)
  • PANAINO, Antonio – SADOVSKI, Velizar: Disputationes Iranologicae Vindobonenses, I (Vienna 2007).
  • SADOVSKI, Velizar – PANAINO, Antonio: Disputationes Iranologicae Vindobonenses, I (to appear in 2010).
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