Fr, 29.11.2019 9:00

Medieval Turfan – An oasis for Christianity?

International Symposium

© Berlin–Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Berlin State Library
Selection from Sayings of the Desert Fathers in Sogdian Language and Syriac script (Xinjiang, ca. 9th c.) © Berlin–Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Berlin State Library

organised by the Institute of Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and PRO ORIENTE

Convener: Chiara Barbati, chiara.barbati(at) (Institute of Iranian Studies)


At the beginning of the last century more than a thousand Christian manuscript fragments in several languages and scripts were found by two German expeditions in the Turfan oasis, China. Most of them are in Syriac or Sogdian. The Syriac fragments are largely liturgical or biblical, including many from the Psalter, whereas the other fragments cover a wide range of genres, most notably hagiographies and ascetical literature. On linguistic grounds the entire Christian documentation has been dated to the 8th to 13/14th centuries. Literary and codicological evidence allows connecting these manuscript fragments with the “Church of the East”. The finding places have never been excavated. In the case of Pútáogōu Xīpáng site, the existence of a monastery has been inferred because of the monastic and ascetic literature testified by the Christian manuscript fragments found there.

This symposium is conceived as an opportunity to bring together scholars who are working on Christianity in Turfan from different perspectives. A second symposium will be held in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in March 2020.

The list of speakers includes (in alphabetical order):
Mar Awa Royel (Modesto, CA), Chiara Barbati (Vienna), Vittorio Berti (Padua), Pier Giorgio Borbone (Pisa), Martina Galatello (Rome), Erica C. D. Hunter (London), Christiane Reck (Göttingen), Natalia Smelova (Manchester), David Tam (Beijing), Peter Zieme (Berlin).

Programm (PDF)




29.11.2019, 9:00 - 18:00

Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
Sonnenfelsgasse 19
1010 Wien



Programm (PDF)

Flyer (PDF)