ATEŞ, AHMED (Aḥmad Ātaš), Turkish Orientalist and scholar of Persian literature (b. Ağcaköy near Birecik in southeastern Turkey, 1911/ d. Istanbul, 20 October 1966; Četin, p. 157, n. 1). Ateş was the son of Moṣṭafā Ātešzāda, a surveyor from Konya whose work took him all over Anatolia. Young Ahmed thus received his primary and intermediate education in a variety of cities. In 1935 he entered the teacher’s training college at Istanbul, and, while still enrolled there, attended courses in the department of Turkish language and literature in the Faculty of Letters at Istanbul University. Here he became interested in Arabic and Persian philology, which was taught in the same department. He also took an interest in French philology. He became the first student of the celebrated German Orientalist Hellmut Ritter (1892-1971), from whom he learned Western scholarly methods. After his graduation in 1939 Ateş became Ritter’s assistant. A year later he was elected to the editorial committee in charge of the Turkish edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam (İslam ansiklopedisi), at which he worked until his death. In 1947 he became a founding member of the International Society for Oriental Research. When Ritter left Turkey in 1949, Ateş succeeded him as head of the Oriental Institute in Istanbul, as well as the Division of Arabic and Persian Philology at the Faculty of Letters.

Despite an initial interest in Arabic, Ateş devoted most of his career to Persian language and literature. In general he pursued the line of scholarly research to which Ritter had introduced him: presentation to the scholarly world of manuscripts from the great collections of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish historical and cultural texts preserved in Turkish collections, and publication of these works whenever possible. His first scholarly venture was, however, a Persian grammar (Farsça grameri, 2 vols., Istanbul, 1942-45), which he wrote jointly with the Afghan scholar ʿAbd-al-Wahhāb Ṭarzi. After the Latin alphabet was adopted for writing Turkish in 1928, Persian was dropped from the standard secondary-school curriculum in Turkey; Farsça grameri was thus designed as a textbook for university students. It has been reprinted several times with additional vocabulary and bibliography and is still used in Turkish universities. In collaboration with Tahsin Yazıcı, Ateş prepared a separate grammar (Farsça dilbilgisi “Persian linguistics”) for use in training the clergy. With Nihat Çetin and Yazıcı he also wrote an Arabic grammar (Arapça dilbilgisi).

The manuscript collections in Istanbul libraries, initially made known to the world by Oskar Rescher (1883-1972), had been more extensively studied and described by Ritter. In contrast to these two scholars, however, Ateş concentrated on manuscript collections in provincial libraries. He published general descriptions of works in Burdur, Antalya, Konya, Kastamonu, and other cities in such articles as “Burdur-Antalya ve havalisi kütüphanelerinde bulunan arapça va farsça bâzi mühim yazma eserler,” TDED 2, 1947, pp. 171-91 (Pers. tr. ʿA.-R. Ḵayyāmpur, “Čand ketāb-e ḵaṭṭi-e mohemm-e fārsi dar guša-i az Āsiā-ye ṣaḡir,” MDA Tabriz 3/3-4, 1329 Š./1950-51, pp. 41-48); “Konya kütüphanelerinde bulunan bâzi mühim yazmalar,” Belleten 16, 1952, pp. 49-130 (Pers. tr. ʿA.-R. Ḵayyāmpur, “Čand ketāb-e ḵaṭṭi-e mohemm-e fārsi dar Qunia,” MDA Tabriz 7, 1334 Š./1955-56, pp. 241-48, 483-99); “Kastamonu genel kitapliğinda bulunan bâzi mühim arapça va farsça yazmalar,” Oriens 5, 1952, pp. 28-46 (Pers. tr. ʿA.-R. Ḵayyāmpur, “Čand ketāb-e ḵaṭṭI-e mohemm-e fārsi dar ketāb-ḵāne-ye ʿomumi-e Qasṭamuni,” MDA Tabriz 8, 1335 Š./1956-57, pp. 191-98, 274-87); and Ãnadolu kütüphanelerinden mühim Yazma eserler (Amasya),” Tarih vesikalari, N.S. 1/1, 1955, pp. 141-74. A description of Persian poetical manuscripts found in the Nuruosmaniye and Istanbul University libraries in Istanbul was published posthumously (Farsça manzum eserler, Istanbul, 1968).

Ateş published detailed critical editions of a number of Persian texts. Among them were Moḥammad b. ʿAli Ẓahiri Samarqandi, Sendebād-nāma (together with an Arabic version), Istanbul, 1948; and two sections from Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ by Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, Sultan Mahmud ve devrinin tarihi (History of Sultan Maḥmud [of Ḡazna] and his period), Ankara, 1957, and Selçuklular tarihi (History of the Saljuqs), Ankara, 1960. He also prepared a Turkish translation of Rāvandi’s Rāḥat al-ṣodur (Rāhat-üs-südur ve āyet-üs-sürur, 2 vols., Ankara, 1957-60). He published editions of the Arabic texts Resāla fi māhiyat al-ʿešq (Ankara, 1959) by Ebn Sinā (Avicenna), the latter with a Turkish translation.

Almost all of Ateş’s many articles on the history, literature, and culture of Iran, which appeared in İslam ansiklopedisi and elsewhere, constitute original contributions. The following are particularly significant for Persian studies: “Tarcumān al-balāġa. Das frühste neupersische Werk über rhetorische Figuren,” tr. H. Ritter, Oriens 1, 1948, pp. 45-62 (showing that the work was written by Moḥammad b. ʿOmar Rāduyāni, rather than Farroḵi, as had previously been believed); “Ḥikmat al-mavt risālesi Ibn Sinā’nin midir?” Tarih dergisi 6/9 1954, pp. 447-52 (Persian tr. by Ateş, “Āyā resāla-ye Ḥekmat al-mawt aṯar-e Ebn-e Sinā’st?” in Jašn-nāma-ye Ebn-e Sinā II, Tehran, 1334 Š./1955, pp. 20-28; “Šâh-nâme’nin yaziliş tarihi ve Firdevsi’nin Sultan Mahmud’a yazdiği hicriye meselesi hakkinda,” Belleten 18, 1954, pp. 159-68 (Fr. tr. “La date de la dernière rédaction de la Šāh-nāma de Firdavsi-i Ṭusi et sa satire contre Sulṭān Maḥmud,” pp. 169-78); “Farsça eski bir Varḳa Gülşah mesnevisi,” TDED 5, 1954, pp. 35-50 (Pers. tr. “Yak maṯnawi-e gomšoda az dawra-ye Ḡaznaviān. Varqa wa Golšāh-e ʿAyyuqi.” MDAT 1/4, 1333 Š./1954-55, pp. 1-13 (cf. “Un vieux poéme romanesque persan. Récit de Warqah et Gulshāh,” Ars Orientalis 4, 1961, pp. 142-52); and “Farroḵi če zamān be Čaḡāniān raft?” MDAT 8/2, 1340Š./1961-62, pp. 1-12.

Ateš also contributed a number of articles on Arabic language and literature to İslam ansiklopedisi, and his study “An-Nābiğat aḏ-Ḏubyāni, hayatı ve eseri üzerinde araştırmalar” (Şarkiyat mecmuasi 1, 1956, pp. 1-36; 2, 1958, pp. 11-40; 3, 1959, pp. 91-124) also deserves mention. In addition, he prepared a bibliography of the works of Fārābi (“Farabinin eserlerinin bibliyografyası,” Belleten 15, 1956, pp. 175-92) and a translation of that author’s Eḥṣāʾ al-ʿolum (İlimlerin sayimi, Istanbul, 1955).


N. Çetin, “La vie et l’oeuvre d’Ahmed Ateş (1911-1966),” REI 36, 1968, pp. 157-64.

Idem, “Ahmed Ateş, hayatı ve eserleri,” Şarkiyat mecmuasi 7, 1972, pp. 1-24.

T. K., “Ahmed Ateş’in hayatı ve eserleri,” Türk kültürü 50, 1966, pp. 102-07.

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 آتش، احمد atash, ahmed  aatash, ahmad ahmed aatesh


(Tahsin Yazici)

Originally Published: July 20, 2002

Last Updated: August 17, 2011