New €2.5M research project on the Yasna

ITSEE is a partner in a new project, MUYA, to produce a multimedia edition of the ritual texts of Zoroastrianism.

The three partners which collaborated on the Workspace for Collaborative Editing (ITSEE, the Trier Centre for Digital Humanities and the INTF in Münster) have been brought together again to work on a major new initiative to create an electronic edition of the Yasna. Led by Professor Almut Hintze from SOAS, University of London, the Multimedia Yasna project (MUYA) will produce a new edition of the texts of the sacred ritual of Zoroastrianism, bringing together video technology, philology and the cutting-edge digital editing resources developed for the Workspace to document and investigate one of the most ancient religious rites.

Professor Hintze has been awarded nearly €2.5 million as an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council to undertake this research. The project will run from October 2016 to September 2021, and include extensive fieldwork in Mumbai as well as the edition of manuscripts in a number of ancient languages and scripts held in libraries and collections across the world.

A manuscript of the Yasna held in the British Library (MS Avestan 17, fol. 127v-8r)

Professor Hintze said:

I’m delighted to have been awarded this grant and to be able to advance understanding of the Yasna, which has been hampered by the presence of outdated editions and translations or by their absence altogether. Our project proposes to fill these gaps and create a film and a critical edition of the recitation text. We will examine the Yasna both as a performance and as a text attested in manuscripts. The two approaches will be integrated to answer questions about the meaning and function of the Yasna in a historical perspective.

One of the challenges for the project will be to adapt and develop the textual encoding framework and editing tools pioneered for work on the Greek New Testament to handle the languages of the Yasna, written in different scripts and, in some cases, different directions. Dr Hugh Houghton, Principal Investigator for the Workspace for Collaborative Editing and Deputy Director of ITSEE, said:

We were delighted to learn of Professor Hintze's success in winning funding for this project. It offers an exciting opportunity to work with sacred texts from a different religious tradition to ITSEE's existing focus on the New Testament and the Qur'an, and to build on the successful and productive partnerships established with our colleagues in the Workspace for Collaborative Editing.

More information on the project can be found in press releases from SOAS and the Ancient India and Iran Trust. The Workspace for Collaborative Editing was funded by the AHRC and DFG and ran from 2010-2013.

UPDATE: The Multimedia Yasna project now has a dedicated website at: http://multimediayasna.wixsite.com/muya