[Edling] International Linguistic Association Monthly Lecture--this Saturday, Feb. 7th

Maureen T. Matarese mmatarese at bmcc.cuny.edu
Thu Feb 5 00:03:03 UTC 2015


Dear Colleagues,

Please excuse the cross posting. The next International Linguistic Association free monthly linguistics lecture is THIS SATURDAY! Please distribute widely and encourage colleagues and students to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!

Best Wishes,
Maureen Matarese
Assistant Professor
BMCC, CUNY
International Linguistic Association Vice President

International Linguistic Association
Monthly Lecture Series

Peter T. Daniels
Independent Scholar

Aramaic Documents from Ancient Bactria:
Connections to the West--and the East--and the Future

In 2012, Aramaic Documents from Ancient Bactria in the Khalili Collection were published by the late Joseph Naveh and Shaul Shaked. These comprise 30 items on leather - many excellently preserved - and 18 wooden tally sticks, all inscribed with ink. They date to the middle of the 4th century bce, spanning the end of the Achaemenid empire and the rule of Alexander. Their provenance is unknown; the editors believe they came from Balkh, Afghanistan = ancient Bactra, the capital of the satrapy of Bactria - near the farthest eastern extremity of the Empire. What is most striking about the assemblage is their uncanny resemblance to the documents known since the 1950s as the "Driver letters," a sheaf of correspondence, also on leather, also in Aramaic, discovered presumably somewhere in Egypt, from Arsames, the satrap of Babylonia, of the late 5th century bce (just under a century earlier than the Bactrian material). The grammar is almost identical, and the script is so similar that the eminent epigrapher Naveh has nothing to say about it.
It is this very identicalness that is of especial interest in the context of the papyrology of the ancient world. These documents show for the first time that there was a uniformity in the diplomatics of chancery practice throughout the empire - not just in the west where Aramaic was in general use - that presages the striking uniformity in orthographic practice among the scribes of the variety of Iranian languages that gradually succeeded Aramaic in writings and inscriptions in Sassanian and Parthian times: there was precedent for what must have been a very close-knit intellectual community across West and Central Asia.
But even more interesting, these documents take us nearly to the exact time and place of the invention of the Kharo??hi script of northwest India - of Gandhara - so that the dearth of epigraphic Aramaic script that might have modeled for the pandits who first wrote an Indic language is made up for by proof that paleographic Aramaic was available. At present we have no Kharo??hi manuscripts dating as early as the Bactria documents, but the demonstrated unity makes it licit to accept that the contemporary epigraphic forms of Aramaic script known from the west can be taken as the models for the earliest known Kharo??hi inscriptions. This was posited by Georg B├╝hler at the end of the 19th century, but has hitherto always had to be considered no more than a plausible suggestion.

Saturday, February 7, 2015
11 AM - 12 PM
Borough of Manhattan Community College
Room: Richard Harris Terrace (next to the bookstore)
199 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007

Contact: Maureen Matarese, mmatarese at bmcc.cuny.edu<mailto:mmatarese at bmcc.cuny.edu>                  www.ilaword.org<https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.ilaword.org&d=AwMFaQ&c=nI61yajbN8Wpmagq-MfhuPVQx6fheJzyqdJgIHizQCg&r=bMXNaw186Jc63xYVgZZ3MlfhsUWluktnRZQxLytu_WY&m=0NN7dxuDuWAOFoGD2WIjozRIgRMthVKaTBoffT2Ncrs&s=nXjCXFmoubL9YhTXhz4TBEo4w-kVjFCsJLkqVfKwJrw&e=>

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