Rethinking History: Nicholas Sims-Williams

When and Where

Thursday, February 08, 2024 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Online via Zoom


Nicholas Sims- Williams, Emeritus Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London


Bactrian Documents and Archives from Northern and Southern Afghanistan

The Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Institute of Iranian Studies, University of Toronto, and the Invisible East Programme, the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford jointly present "Bactrian Documents and Archives from Northern and Southern Afghanistan" on Thursday, February 8, 2024, at 12 pm (Toronto) / 5 pm (UK) 

Numerous documents in Bactrian dating from the 4th-8th century CE have emerged since the early 1990s. They include letters, legal contracts and economic documents, mostly written on parchment; some of the latest documents are associated with a group of Arabic legal documents and tax receipts. Although there is no reliable information about where the documents were found, the majority can be shown from internal evidence to have been written in various parts of Northern Afghanistan. Very recently, a further collection of 4th-century Bactrian letters has come to light. These are written on birch-bark and almost certainly come from somewhere to the south of the Hindukush. In this paper I shall describe these two groups of documents and discuss the question whether either can be considered as constituting a single archive.

Nicholas Sims-Williams is Emeritus Professor of Iranian and Central Asian Studies at SOAS University of London. He has published many books and articles on Middle Iranian texts and languages, including three volumes of Bactrian documents from Northern Afghanistan.

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