The Multimedia Yasna - editing Zoroastrian texts

Professor David Parker and Dr Catherine Smith are members of the team working on this European Research Council-funded project led by Professor Almut Hintze at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

The project is investigating the meaning and function of the Yasna, the core ritual of one of the most ancient and influential living religions, Zoroastrianism. The Yasna is significant for cultural heritage not only because of its influential thought system, which arguably impacted Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but also because it’s the oldest witness to Iranian languages, with parts going back to the second millennium BCE.

The interpretation of the Yasna has long been hampered by out-dated editions and translations of the text, and the relationship between the recited text and the action performed in the ritual is unexplored. The Multimedia Yasna project will fill these gaps by combining filmed ritual performances and teaching practices and in-depth studies of the Yasna text and transcribed manuscripts, producing a multimedia publication of the ritual.

David and Catherine will advise the project team on the digital textual criticism software used to transcribe the manuscripts, and develop editorial tools for the digital Yasna. The five-year project (awarded €2.5 million, of which €142,181 will come to Birmingham) started in October 2016.