iii. IRANIAN STUDIES IN GERMAN: PRE-ISLAMIC PERIOD.
This contribution aims at presenting an overview of the studies on all aspects of the culture of pre-Islamic Iran as conducted by German, Austrian, and Swiss scholars. One must be aware, however, of the fact that the concept of scholarship on Iran in “German-speaking countries” is rather imprecise, particularly in historical perspective, since it must encompass areas such as the Baltic States (with old universities like that of Dorpat, today Estonian Tartu) or those of the former Habsburg Empire from Prague (site of the oldest German university, founded by Emperor Charles IV) up to Bukovine Czernowitz (today Ukrainian Chernivci), where Hans Reichelt held the Indo-European chair from 1911 to 1918. The idea of “Iran” is understood here as the whole of the countries inhabited by Iranian-speaking peoples, thus extending beyond the boundaries of present-day Persia in all directions. Both research on written sources and archeological discoveries are taken into consideration, the term “culture” thus being defined comprehensively to include languages, literatures, history, philosophy, religions, art, law, politics, administration, economy, and historical geography.
Introduction. Notwithstanding early travelers (like the Bavarian soldier Hans Schiltberger, who was for many years in the employ of the Timurid kings), German research on Iran (or Persia, as it was called up till the 1930s) began in the 17th century. Among the early researchers, one may mention Heinrich von Poser (1599-1661), Adam Olearius/Ölschläger (ca. 1600-71), Johann Albrecht von Mandelslo (1616-44), Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716; see Wiesehöfer, 1991 and 1993), and other travelers, who in Safavid times came to Persia, spread and deepened knowledge about the land, its ancient culture and history, and often reported on important and informative details.
The German-speaking countries, and above all Germany itself, had a great tradition in Iranian studies from its very beginning as an independent discipline within Oriental studies in the first half of the 19th century. In fact, Iranian studies in Europe were stimulated and reinforced by three epoch making events: (1) The nascent knowledge of the Avesta, the sacred scripture of Zoroastrians, the first information about which was brought to the West in 1771 by Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron (q.v.; 1731-1805) and the antiquity and authenticity of which were proven by Rasmus Rask in 1826, before Eugène Burnouf (q.v.; 1801-52) published for the first time an Avestan text in the original language with the lithographic edition of the Vendidad in 1829; (2) the decipherment and publication of the first Sasanian inscriptions by Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838) in 1793, and (3) the decipherment of the Old Persian cuneiform writing initiated by Georg Friedrich Grotefend (1775-1853) in 1802 and completed by others by 1847.
Iranian studies pursued in a scholarly manner arose especially from the first of these three stimuli by “the Indo-Iranian perspective” (as Duchesne-Guillemin, p. 20, has put it) when the first connections of Avestan words with those of the Sanskrit language were noticed and when, in consequence of that, the common origin of those languages and furthermore the common origin of the civilization of both Iran and Aryan India became the focus of attention.
The main topics of 19th century research were thus the publication and understanding of the Avesta and the Old Persian inscriptions, in both of which German scholars took part from the outset. This first period in the research on pre-Islamic Iran culminated in (1) the publication of the monumental volumes of the Grundriss by Wilhelm Geiger and Ernst Kuhn, which summarized the entire knowledge of its time about the languages and literatures, history, and culture of Iran; (2) the great three-volume edition of the Avestaby Karl Friedrich Geldner, and (3) the magnificent dictionary of the Avestan and Old Persian languages, Altiranisches Wörterbuch, by Christian Bartholomae (q.v.). This period essentially came to an end in 1904. That year is an important watershed in the history of Iranian studies, since after it entirely new fields of research come to the fore, and the subjects of Iranian studies were widened considerably by new discoveries both in Persia (in Susa, Persepolis, and a great number of other places) and in the oases of Chinese Turkestan, where, in particular, masses of texts in a number of scripts and languages from the Middle Iranian period enlarged the knowledge of Iranian culture in many directions and set Iranian studies on a new ground. It was in 1904 that the first publications of those texts uncovered by the First Prussian Turfan Expedition (1902-3) appeared in print.
INSTITUTIONS CONCERNED WITH IRANIAN STUDIES
Owing to historical developments, intensive research on Iran is done in Germany, as in most other European countries, in close connection with related disciplines. It is pursued on the one hand in the context of Islamic countries and peoples, and on the other hand in connection with India, because the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan languages are closely related to one another and go back to a common source, together representing the Indo-Iranian or Aryan group within the Indo-European language family. Because of that divergent development, we have to analyze a far-reaching division of the field of Iranian studies into pre-Islamic and modern (i.e., Islamic) Iranian studies. A comprehensive history of Iranian studies in German-speaking countries has never been publishe, and only limited preliminary surveys are available thus far.
Chairs of Iranian studies. There were and are only a few chairs and institutes connected specifically with Iranian studies at German universities. This does not mean, however, that studies on pre-Islamic Iran have always been pursued there, since such an orientation depends on the special interests of the particular holder of the chair.
The first Iranist in the literal sense of the term was Friedrich Carl Andreas (1846-1930, q.v.), professor of Western Asiatic philology at the University of Göttingen from 1903 to 1920 (until then teacher of Persian and Turkish at the Department of Oriental Languages in Berlin), who exerted a great influence mainly through the circle of his disciples that included Wolfgang Lentz and Walter Bruno Henning. Later on, Oriental philology and Near Eastern history were taught by Walther Hinz (1906-92) and Hans Heinrich Schaeder (1896-1957; professor in Göttingen in 1946-57) respectively, whose wide-ranging studies included also various aspects of religions and history of pre-Islamic Iran. During Hinz’s tenure (1937-45 and 1957-75) a separate department of Iranian studies was founded in 1960. Hinz was succeeded by Henning’s pupil David Neil MacKenzie (1975-94) and Philip Gerrit Kreyenbroek (from 1996), a Dutchman by birth.
At the University of Berlin, Josef Marquart (or, after 1922, Markwart; 1864-1930) worked as professor of Iranian and Armenian philology from 1912 to 1930, followed by Hans Heinrich Schaeder as professor of Semitic and Iranian philology (1931-46). After World War II, Heinrich F. J. Junker (1889-1970), a pupil of Christian Bartholomae, who had specialized mainly in Middle Persian, held the chair of Iranian studies at the East Berlin Humboldt University from 1951 and was director of the Institute of Iranian and Caucasian languages (Institut für iranische und kaukasische Sprachen) founded there in 1953. It was he who strongly influenced Iranian studies in the former German Democratic Republic. Even though Iranian studies in that state were oriented primarily toward modern Persia and were directed toward their practical use, essential contributions were made also to the study of the Iranian-language texts in the famous Turfan Collection. At the Free University in West Berlin founded in 1948, the chair of Iranian studies first (1950-67) was held by Olaf Hansen (1902-69), whose most important publications dealt with Christian Sogdian texts and Middle Persian papyri; then by Carsten Colpe (from 1969), who worked on the history of religions. Since 1995, Maria Macuch, a specialist in Sasanian law, has been continuing the earlier tradition.
At the University of Hamburg, the field of Iranian studies was first represented by Junker (1919-26), who was succeeded by Hans Reichelt (1877-1939), another pupil of Bartholomae,for a period of four years (1926-30). Even though both these scholars were professors of comparative philology in name, their activities in fact were centered on Old and Middle Iranian languages. Only after a fairly long vacancy a special chair of Iranian philology was founded, to which Wolfgang Lentz (1900-86) was appointed (1955-68). His contributions to the study of the Gathas are characterized by an analysis that unravelled the various associatively interwoven motives and themes of several hymns. He was succeeded in 1971 by Ronald Eric Emmerick, a pupil of Harold Walter Bailey at Cambridge, from whom he took over the concentration on Khotanese studies.
Of the universities founded more recently, only the University of Bamberg has a chair of Iranian studies; there, however, the main stress is put on the history and culture of modern Persia and the Middle East.
Other chairs. Because special emphasis is often placed on linguistic and philological studies, and furthermore because the Iranian languages are known to be related to the Indo-Aryan language group, a number of chairs and institutes reflect this special connection. When the chair of comparative philology at the University of Munich gained independence in 1909, the remaining faculty kept its former name, “Institute of Aryan Philology,” which only after World War II was changed to “Indology and Iranian Studies.” Holders of this separate chair, which previously was held by Martin Haug (1868-76) and Ernst Kuhn (1877-1919), were Wilhelm Geiger (q.v.; 1920-24) and Walther Wüst (1935-45), who, although a specialist in Old Indo-Aryan etymology, always also took into account the Old Persian and Avestan lexicon, whereas other scholars, especially the holders of this chair after World War II, rarely devoted themselves to Iranian studies and have often been exclusively Indologists.
A similar situation obtained in Frankfurt am Main, where Herman Lommell (1885-1968), a great-grandson of Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel and a pupil of Jacob Wackernagel and Andreas, held a chair of comparative linguistics and Aryan (i.e. Indo-Iranian) philology from 1917 until his retirement in 1953, and in Leipzig, where Junker’s chair bore the same designation (1926-45). At present there are such chairs of “Indo-European and Indo-Iranian Studies” only at the University of the Saarland in Saarbrücken (since 1963, currently held by Rüdiger Schmitt) and at Erlangen University (since 1955), where Karl Hoffmann (1915-96, professor there 1955-83), Johanna Narten (1977-93), and Bernhard Forssman (from 1983) re-established the great tradition in Iranian studies founded by Friedrich Spiegel (1820-1905), who was professor of Oriental languages (1849-90) and one of the most famous Iranian scholars of his time, and his pupil Wilhelm Geiger, who from 1891 to 1920 (when he went to Munich) held the chair of comparative philology (Bobzin and Forssman).
At other universities, including established ones with a good reputation in other fields of Oriental studies, Iranian studies played only a secondary role. As for those scholars who were not officially Iranists, one primarily has to take into account Indologists such as Christian Lassen of Bonn University (1800-76), Hermann Brockhaus of Leipzig (1806-77), and the Tübingen professor Rudolph von Roth (1821-95), or Indo-European scholars such as Franz Bopp (1791-1867), the very founder of that discipline (from 1821 professor in Berlin); Ferdinand Justi of the University of Marburg (1837-1907, q.v.); Heinrich Hübschmann (1848-1908, q.v.), who taught comparative philology half his life (from 1877) at the then German University of Strassburg; Helmut Humbach at Mainz; Bernfried Schlerath at the Free University of Berlin; Klaus Strunk at Munich; and Gert Klingenschmitt at the University of Regensburg. Thus the famous editor of the Avesta, Karl Friedrich Geldner (1852-1929), a pupil of Rudolph von Roth, was technically an Indologist (from 1907 in Marburg). He wrote his first Avestan studies in Tübingen, where he began his editorial work, which was continued from 1887 in Halle, and finally completed in Berlin (where he taught from 1890 to 1907). And even Bartholomae (1855-1925), the eminent Iranian linguist, after having been professor at the Universities of Halle (1884), Münster (1885), Giessen (1898), and Strassburg (1909), was ultimately appointed professor of comparative philology and Sanskrit at Heidelberg University (also in 1909).
The holder of a chair of Oriental studies in general, which was a common post in earlier times but is out of fashion now, may actually have also done research in the field of Iranian studies, as was the case with Wilhelm Eilers (1906-89, q.v.), professor in Oriental philology at the University of Würzburg from 1958 to 1974.
Archeology. Iranian archeology has always been situated within the wider field of Ancient Near Eastern archeology, even in the case of Ernst Herzfeld (1879-1948), who held such a chair in Berlin from 1917 to 1935, when he emigrated (first to the United Kingdom and then later to the United States), and is literally the founder of Iranian archeology. Mention may also be made here of Klaus Schippmann (Göttingen, 1972-90) and Leo Trümpelmann (Munich, 1980-89).
The main German institution for archeological research on Iran has been for some time the Tehran branch (Abteilung Teheran, founded in 1961) of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (q.v.) under Heinz Luschey (1910-92), Wolfram Kleiss, and Peter Calmeyer (1930-95). In consequence of political developments in Persia since 1978, which resulted in working conditions becoming more and more difficult there, and because of financial constraints this branch in 1996 became part of a newly-founded Eurasia department with particular research interests in Central Asia.
Manuscript collections. Apart from the university facilities, there is the famous Berlin Turfan Collection, the core of which consists of the manuscript fragments from various sites in the Turfan basin brought back by the four expeditions (under Albert Grünwedel and Albert von Le Coq) that the Museum of Ethnology (Museum für Völkerkunde) had sent to Chinese Turkestan between 1902 and 1914 (Boyce). The archeological material from the expeditions remained in the Museum of Ethnology’s possession, but most of the manuscripts became the property of the then Prussian Academy of Sciences. Notwithstanding the vicissitudes of the Turfan Collection during and after World War II, all the texts are now again in the care of the “Turfan Project” of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften.
Here may be added a short mention of the fact that the only notable German collection of Zoroastrian (i.e., Avestan and Middle Persian) manuscripts is the one of the Bavarian State Library in Munich, the basis of which is the collection of more than forty manuscripts from the estate of Martin Haug. They were catalogued in an exemplary manner by Bartholomae (1915).
Austria. The only Austrian research institution concerned with Iranian studies is the Committee of Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which was created in 1969 on the initiative of Manfred Mayrhofer, professor of general linguistics and Indo-European studies at the University of Vienna (1966-88). Mayrhofer had previously taught in Würzberg (1958-62) and Saarbrücken (1962-66) and is the author of important publications on, e.g., Old Persian, its collateral tradition in Elamite sources, and Old Iranian anthroponomastics. The special aim of the Committee is to prepare a new multi-volume dictionary of Iranian personal names, of which two volumes and three additional fascicles have been published so far (1979-). It is intended to replace Ferdinand Justi’s outdated work from the late 19th century. The Academy itself owes its foundation in 1847 to the impetus given by the great Austrian Orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856), who did not work, however, on pre-Islamic Iran.
Apart from this particular case, the situation of Iranian studies at Austrian universities is similar to that in Germany. Only for a time (since 1892) and under particular circumstances has there been a chair of Indo-Iranian studies at the University at Graz (see Lochner von Hüttenbach). It was held by Johann Kirste (1851-1920), who, apart from his Indological studies, published works on Iranian (e.g., paleographic) subjects (though they were not always convincing). The chair was canceled when his successor, Hans Reichelt (1920-26), left for Hamburg, but four years later Reichelt returned to Graz to hold the Indo-European chair (1930-39), which then covered Indo-Iranian philology and continued to do so under Wilhelm Brandenstein (1898-1967, professor since 1941). At the University of Vienna, Bernhard Geiger (q.v.; 1881-1964), a native of then Austrian Silesia and a specialist in Avestan and Western Middle Iranian languages and Zoroastrian studies, had an extraordinary professorship in Iranian and Indian philology from 1919 to his emigration to the United States in 1938. In addition to these, mention must be made of Friedrich Müller (1834-98), the author of a great number of studies on Iranian languages, who from 1869 to his death held the chair of Sanskrit and comparative philology at the University of Vienna.
Switzerland. Iranian studies, not being institutionalized anywhere in Switzerland, have been cultivated only by individual scholars such as Heinrich Brunnhofer (1841-1917), who repeatedly dealt with the problem of the original home of the Aryan peoples and their migrations; the Indologist Ernst Leumann (1859-1931), who did pioneering work in the field of making accessible the Khotanese language and literature (which he had called “North Aryan”); or the Indo-European scholars Jacob Wackernagel (1853-1938) of Basel (professor of Greek language and literature there in 1879-1902 and 1915-36), who, being professor in Göttingen in 1902-15, worked together with F. C. Andreas on the Gathas; and Eduard Schwyzer (1874-1943), who during his years in Bonn (1927-32) wrote some important Avestan studies.
Emigrants. Most of the expatriate German scholars who worked in the field of Iranian studies had left Germany at the time of the Nazi regime. They included the future founder of the Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum (q.v.), Walter Bruno Henning (1908-67), who was among the last of Andreas’ students and became Lecturer in Iranian Studies at the School of Oriental Studies in London in 1936 and then (after 1961) Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley; the archeologist Ernst Herzfeld (professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., in 1936-44); the Austrian scholar Bernhard Geiger, who in 1938-50 held a chair at the Asia Institute in New York (1938-50) and then was visiting professor of Iranian Studies at Columbia University; and Geiger’s pupil Paul Maximilian Tedesco (1898-1980), a Viennese by birth, who in the days of his youth had dealt with problems of the Middle Iranian languages and from 1938 lived in the United States, where he taught at Yale University as professor of Indo-Iranian and Slavic Linguistics (from 1952), and later of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology (1960-66).
Of course, in the academic world there have been migrant scholars in former times as well as recently: Julius (Jules) Oppert (1825-1905), professor of Assyriology at the Collège de France in Paris from 1869, was a native of Hamburg; he was one of the pioneers of cuneiform studies, who also dealt with Old Persian and Elamite inscriptions and languages. The archeologist Erich Friedrich Schmidt (1897-1964), who directed various excavations (among them those at Persepolis in 1935-39) and was from 1954 professor of Oriental archeology at the University of Chicago, had left his German homeland in 1923 (Balcer). His namesake Hanns-Peter Schmidt, a graduate of the University of Hamburg, to whom we owe a number of important Avestan studies, has been professor of Indo-Iranian studies at the University of California in Los Angeles since 1976.
Journals. The organization of scientific research is most obvious in journals. The most important journals in German which cover the field of Oriental studies in general are the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft (since 1847), the Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes (since 1887, as the organ of the Austrian Oriental scholars), and the review journal Orientalistische Literaturzeitung (since 1898). Those that cover Iranian studies in particular are the short-lived Zeitschrift für Indologie und Iranistik (with ten volumes between 1920 and 1935-36), the Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik (since 1975), and the AMI (founded by Ernst Herzfeld and published in nine volumes from 1929 to 1938, then revived by the Tehran branch of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, in 1968).
TOPICS OF RESEARCH ON PRE-ISLAMIC IRAN
Beginnings. For research on Iran, the starting-point in Germany and the other German-speaking countries was totally different from the situation in old colonial powers like France or England, as political and economic motives were missing in Germany to arouse an interest in such subjects. Some knowledge could be gathered from the reports given by the travelers who visited Persia and its sites of cultural and historical interest, and even some superficial knowledge of the Avesta and of the Persepolitan inscriptions was available in Europe since the publication of Anquetil-Duperron’s Avesta and Carsten Niebuhr’s Reisebeschreibung. But to disclose their secrets in a scholarly manner was only possible after a thorough knowledge of the Sanskrit language had reached Europe. Thus from the beginning the older Iranian languages were the center of attention, and as is the case with the other branches of Oriental studies, philology was dominant; and regardless of all shifts in the main stress of teaching and research towards modern times it will remain dominant, since it is indispensable for the analysis and evaluation of the sources written in a number of older idioms.
Old Persian. Niebuhr (1733-1815), who had visited the ruins of Persepolis in March 1765, was the first to publish (1778) careful and usable copies of all eleven inscriptions that he was able to reach (pls. XXIV and XXXI) and to settle preliminary questions fundamental for the future decipherment of the cuneiform script (q.v.; see also Schmitt, 1986). The man who actually took the first steps in deciphering the Old Persian variant of the cuneiform script was Georg Friedrich Grotefend in 1802 (q.v.; 1775-1853), a Göttingen grammar-school teacher, who by his powers of reasoning was led to the nearly accurate interpretation of several signs, even though the task as a whole came to a successful end only some decades later.
Starting from the results achieved previously by Grotefend and by Rasmus Rask (who in 1826 recognized the title king of kings and the ending of the genitive plural), Christian Lassen was able to contribute several new findings (e.g., with regard to the mode of function of that writing system) by assuming that one of the longer Persepolitan inscriptions, namely DPe, lists the names of the peoples of the Achaemenid empire. By means of the toponyms attested there, he found out that in most consonantal signs a vowel a is inherent (if it is not silent), whereas other signs occur only before the vowels i or u. Thus it became possible to gain an insight into the phonological system and structure of the Old Persian language. Among the pioneers in the study of the Old Persian inscriptions must be reckoned also Franz Bopp, who made some important discoveries (e.g., by finding the title king of the countries in analogy to Rask’s king of kings), even though the Old Iranian languages were not of crucial importance for him. Julius Oppert, who in 1851 identified the value of the last phonetic sign as l(a), was involved also in completing the endeavors at deciphering the Old Persian cuneiform script.
The first complete collection of the texts (with German translation and glossary) was Die persischen Keilinschriften (Leipzig, 1847) by Theodor Benfey (1809-81), who was professor of Oriental philology at the University of Göttingen from 1848 to 1881. That collection later was superseded by Friedrich Spiegel’s Die altpersischen Keilinschriften (Leipzig, 1862, 2nd ed., 1881, with text, trans., commentary, grammar, and lexicon). Extremely commendable in its time and in part even today is the major work of Franz Heinrich Weissbach (1865-1944): his book Die Keilinschriften der Achämeniden (Leipzig, 1911,) with the text of all three of the cuneiform versions of the royal inscriptions, was the last edition of its kind and has still not been replaced at least for most of the Elamite and Babylonian versions. Achaemenid inscriptions that have been found at various places in the 1920s and 1930s are the object of studies by Friedrich Wilhelm König (Der Burgbau zu Susa nach dem Bauberichte des Königs Dareios I., Leipzig, 1930), Wilhelm Brandenstein (WZKM 39, 1932, pp. 7-97), Ernst Herzfeld (Altpersische Inschriften, Berlin, 1938), and Walther Hinz. A new edition of the Old Persian text of the inscription of Darius I at Bīsotūn (q.v.) was published in 1991 by Rüdiger Schmitt in the Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum.
Avesta. The sacred book of the Zoroastrians, kept secret for a long time by the Parsi priesthood, had been made known in Europe by Anquetil-Duperron in 1771, whose work was translated into German in 1776-77 by the theologian Johann Friedrich Kleuker (1749-1827). In the long dispute about the age and authenticity of the Avesta, which was only settled by Rasmus Rask in 1826, primarily Kleuker and the Austrian White Friar Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo (Johann Philipp Vesdin, 1748-1806) were on Anquetil-Duperron’s side; in his booklet on the old age and the relationship of the Avestan, Sanskrit, and German languages (1798), Paulinus for the first time not only asserted but also explained in detail the relationship of the Avestan with the Sanskrit language and supported that with the examples collected in a word-list. Thus the Avesta became accessible only with delay after Sanskrit and its relationship to Avestan had become known.
Following these and other advances in Avestan studies, the first four chapters of the Vendidad were edited by Justus Olshausen (1800-82), who had been a pupil of Kleuker and was then professor of Oriental languages in Kiel. The project was not continued, however, since its author then turned to other studies. As to research on the Avestan language and vocabulary, German scholars have been among the pioneers: On the one hand Franz Bopp, in his comparative grammar of the Indo-European languages, took Avestan into account from the beginning; on the other hand Hermann Brockhaus published (Leipzig, 1850) the complete Vendidad Sade (i.e., Yasna, Visprad, and Vidēvdād) together with a full index and a glossary, which is actually the first Avestan dictionary.
The first comprehensive account of Avestan grammar was written by Martin Haug (1862, pp. 52-116). Haug (1827-76), a pupil of Rudolph von Roth and Heinrich Ewald, did pioneering work in Iranian philology, since during his stay in Poona as professor of Sanskrit (1859-66) intimate contact with the learned Parsi priests made it possible for him to become acquainted with the tradition about their religion and to study it in detail. Thus he was the first to combine direct knowledge of the original Avestan texts with a historical understanding of Zoroastrian writings, and he is without doubt one of the most important founding fathers of Iranian philology. Like his teacher Roth, Haug was of the opinion that only little information could be obtained from the Parsi tradition and that the Avesta had to be explained from itself. Because this is valid in particular for the Gathas, Haug began a detailed philological and linguistic study of these hymns (Leipzig, 1858-60). This first attempt at an interpretation produced an unsatisfactory result, however, since for the Gathas all information given by the indigenous tradition must be thrown overboard, and one must follow without any reservation the principle first pronounced by Roth that for a thorough understanding of them the knowledge of the closely related dialect of the oldest Vedic texts is of fundamental value. Thus acquaintance with the Veda and the first results of Vedic studies changed the situation for Avestan studies completely and added to them an indispensable comparative approach (in particular thanks to German scholars like Bopp, Benfey, and Roth), to which a sound grammatical foundation was given later by Heinrich Hübschmann and his pupil Christian Bartholomae.
The first German scholar whose life’s work was devoted nearly exclusively to the study of ancient Iranian languages and culture was Friedrich Spiegel (1820-1904), who, relying mainly on the Parsi tradition (which more often than not is misleading), published (Avesta, die heiligen Schriften der Parsen…, 2 vols., Vienna, 1853-58) and translated (Avesta, die heiligen Schriften der Parsen. Aus dem Grundtexte übersetzt, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1852-63) both the Avesta and the exegetic literature in Middle Persian language belonging to it. As to linguistics, Spiegel made his mark with a comparative grammar of the Old Iranian languages (Vergleichende Grammatik der altérânischen Sprachen, Leipzig, 1882). Among his pupils was Wilhelm Geiger, who in the years of his youth edited a number of Avestan texts and even published a substantial introduction to the Avestan language. He presented an overall view of historico-cultural orientation in his Ostiranische Kultur im Altertum (Erlangen, 1882), which aimed to support the thesis that the Avesta has its origin in Eastern Iran and in a period before the Median and the Persian empires.
To the same period belong the numerous shorter studies by the Austrian linguist Friedrich Müller (1834-98) of textual and linguistic problems of Avestan and Middle Persian or Armenian (which language he regarded as Iranian even long after Hübschmann’s proof of the opposite) and the philological and linguistic works of Ferdinand Justi, who later turned more and more to the history of Iran. His Handbuch der Zendsprache (Leipzig, 1864) is essentially a full Avestan-German dictionary including the vocabulary found in the texts as edited by Niels Ludvig Westergaard and only in addition contains an appendix (pp. 357-402) on grammar.
All the achievements accomplished by these early Avestan scholars were superseded by the magnificent new edition of the Avesta by Geldner and the comprehensive grammatical studies and the Altiranisches Wörterbuch (Strassburg, 1904) by Bartholomae, which are based on it and in a sense bring 19th-century Avestan studies to an end. Totally based on this dictionary and faithfully reproducing its content is the translation of Avesta, die heiligen Bücher des Parsen (Strassburg, 1910) by Bartholomae’s pupil Fritz Wolff (1880-1943), who is best known, however, for his admirable Glossar zu Firdosis Schahname (Berlin, 1935).
Geldner, who also was a pupil of Roth, was the first to study metrics of the Younger Avestan hymns (1877); his basic attitude, that the Avestan text as it is recorded is corrupt throughout, has not proven to be true, however. His edition of Avesta (1886-96), which after a hundred years is not yet replaced though some minor texts are missing, was based on a thorough collation of more than 150 manuscripts. Of considerable importance is the fact that he examined in detail the history of the manuscript transmission, the mutual relationships of the codices, and the genealogy of the individual text-classes. But he reached his conclusions from all that only after he had finished his work, so that the edition itself does not yet take them into account.
In addition to these major works by Geldner and Bartholomae mention must be made of Hans Reichelt, who has published a number of studies on the Avestan language, including the important manual Awestisches Elementarbuch (Heidelberg, 1909), which contains the first and till now only detailed account of the Avestan syntax and complements the phonological and morphological studies by Reichelt’s teacher, Bartholomae.
Avestan studies in the first half of the 20th century was heavily influenced by Friedrich Carl Andreas (q.v., esp. iii) and his stubborn theory concerning the origin of the Avestan script and the transmission of the Avesta corpus. Based on this theory, which never has been presented explicitly, he aimed at a reconstruction of the Avestan text as it is supposed to have been written down in the Arsacid period. The Andreas theory is applied in particular in the edition of several Gathas, in which Jacob Wackernagel (1853-1938) during his Göttingen time co-operated with Andreas. Their common pupil Herman Lommel (1885-1968) also went on in the way shown by Andreas and published, in addition to a German translation of the Yašts, studies on the meter of the Younger Avestan texts (ZII 1, 1922, pp. 185-245; 5, 1927, pp. 1-92) and interpretations of those Gathas not edited by Andreas (and Wackernagel) himself. His complete translation of the Gathas was edited after his death by his pupil Bernfried Schlerath (Die Gathas des Zarathustra, Basel and Stuttgart, 1971). Schlerath’s own most important contribution is to be seen, not least because of several concordances, in the two preliminary volumes (Avesta-Wörterbuch. Vorarbeiten, Wiesbaden, 1968) for an Avestan dictionary, which still remains unfinished.
An advocate of the thesis that the Avesta has to be studied in close comparison with the Veda and that Vedic and Avestan philologies must be joined to Indo-Iranian or Aryan philology was Johannes Hertel (1872-1955), professor of Sanskrit at Leipzig University. He is the father of the so-called “arische Feuerlehre” and has edited a number of Avestan texts and published several other monographs, the value of which is diminished by the fact that he saw fire, sun, and light hidden nearly everywhere. Also the most important work of the Viennese Bernhard Geiger on the Aməša Spəntas (q.v.; Die Aməša Spəntas, Vienna, 1916) is of significance for its comparative approach and observations on the proto-Aryan poetic language.
The views about the transmission of the Avesta and about the origin of the Avestan script held by Andreas and his school, which for decades played such a decisive role, are no longer of importance since their refutation in the 1940s. And after the fundamental study Der Sasanidische Archetypus (Wiesbaden, 1989) by Karl Hoffmann (1915-96) and Johanna Narten (1930-) on the Sasanian archetype of the Avesta, which marks the transition of the oral tradition to the written text, they are things of the past once and for all. Karl Hoffmann, whose articles are collected in three volumes of Aufsätze zur Indoiranistik (Wiesbaden, 1975-92), has not only made clear the origin of the Avesta script and of its signs, however, but has established also different stages of the pre-literary transmission of the Avesta in Arachosia and Persis. Shortly after his death appeared the Avestische Laut- und Flexionslehre (Innsbruck, 1996, co-authored by B. Forssman), which made a systematic attempt to understand the Avestan data in their historical development from the Indo-Iranian proto-language.
Typical of Hoffmann’s method is the very detailed philological and linguistic examination of each single word in all its phonological, morphological, syntactical, semantic, and etymological aspects. The same method is also applied in the seminal editions and studies by his numerous pupils, such as Helmut Humbach (1921-), Johanna Narten, Bernhard Forssman (1934-), Gert Klingenschmitt (1940-), and, in turn, their pupils. Thus Humbach, professor of comparative philology at the University of Mayence in 1961-90, published an edition, translation, and commentary of the Gathas, first in German (Die Gathas des Zarathustra, 2 vols., Heidelberg, 1959) and later in revised form in English (The Gāthās of Zarathushtra and the Other Old Avestan Texts, 2 vols., Heidelberg, 1991), which is characterized by its close linguistic argumentation. Narten has studied several problems concerning the Aməša Spəntas (Die Aməṧa Spəṇtas im Avesta, Wiesbaden, 1982) and published a monograph on the Yasna Haptaŋhāiti (Wiesbaden, 1986); Klingenschmitt wrote his Ph. D. dissertation (published only in part) on the Frahang ī oīm (q.v.; Erlangen, 1968).
Also a great number of other contributions to the solution of linguistic and/or etymological problems of the Old Iranian dialects has been published by scholars not to be classified as Iranologists in the proper sense but as specialists in Vedic studies or in comparative philology. Among them mention may be made of Hermann Güntert (1886-1948), Paul Thieme (1905-), Hanns-Peter Schmidt (1930-), and Klaus Strunk (1930-).
Research on Zoroaster and his religion is naturally conducted in close connection with Avestan studies. Herman Lommel’s Die Religion Zarathustras, nach dem Awesta dargestellt (Tübingen, 1930) is a description of Zoroaster’s religion based primarily on the texts themselves. He also studied aspects of the original Indo-Iranian religion in his books Die alten Arier: Von Art und Adel ihrer Götter (Frankfurt, 1935) and Der arische Kriegsgott (Frankfurt, 1939). The same is true for Paul Thieme when he treats problems of the Vedic texts and of Vedic, but actually of Indo-Iranian religion (e.g., in Mitra and Aryaman, New Haven, Conn., 1957). A forerunner in the field of the history of Indo-Iranian religion and mythology was the theologian and canon of the archidiocese of Munich, Friedrich Windischmann (1811-61), with his contributions Die Persische Anahita oder Anaitis (Munich, 1856) and Mithra (Leipzig, 1851) as well as his Zoroastrische Studien (posthumously ed. by F. Spiegel, Berlin, 1863).
Once more it becomes clear here that pre-Islamic Iranian studies ever since the first half of the 19th century have developed in parallel and in close connection with Indology, or, more exactly, with Vedic studies. The combination of Indology with comparative grammer so frequent in the beginnings of both these disciplines then led to the inclusion of Old Iranian and to the rise of Indo-Iranian studies. Therefore it is not surprising that Iranian studies (not only in the German-speaking countries) have always been focused on linguistics and philology and have more than a hint of interdisciplinary research. Moreover, the philological and linguistic emphasis laid on Old and Middle Iranian studies is explained also by the fact that the sources available for the study of pre-Islamic Iranian culture and history in general become accessible only to one who knows the languages.
The scholar who most systematically took the integration of Iranian into the framework of Indo-European comparative linguistics as his aim was Christian Bartholomae; it was he who succeeded in laying the foundation for the linguistic investigation of the two Old Iranian languages by establishing their phonological developments and their morphological structure in a true neo-grammarian manner. He followed the way smoothed by Haug by bringing together the Parsi tradition and the methods of Western Classical philology with those of comparative grammar, and thus he published some major reference works like the Altiranisches Wörterbuch, one of the best dictionaries ever written. The special aspect of Bartholomae’s linguistic approach to Old Iranian languages was that when looking at Iranian he always considered Indo-Iranian as a unity, and with this attitude, for which the reconstruction of the common Indo-Iranian proto-language was of foremost concern, he strongly influenced several generations of scholars up to the present.
The existence of various different dialects already in the Old Iranian period became more and more evident when the rich sources of later periods became better known and the dialect situation could be made out for the Middle Iranian period. The decisive progress was initiated here by the Turfan expeditions and their countless finds of texts. The first insights of fundamental importance, namely the differentiation of the Parthian from the Middle Persian dialect and the discovery or identification of the Sogdian language, were by Fredrich Carl Andreas.
Middle Iranian. The pioneer of Middle Persian (Pahlavi) studies in Germany was Marcus Joseph Müller (1809-74), from 1840 professor of the non-biblical Oriental languages at the University of Munich, whose interest in Iranian studies had been stimulated by his teacher in Paris, Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758-1838). Müller’s "Essai sur la langue pehlvie” (JA 3/7, 1839, pp. 289-346) is the first such study worth mentioning. It is interesting to read Bartholomae’s opinion (1915, p. 12) that Müller in the 1830s understood the nature of Middle Persian better than many a scholar at the end of the 19th century, for only in the course of that century did the view become generally accepted that Middle Persian is an Iranian language, which only in writing contains many superficially Semitic forms—although written in Aramaic, in reality they were spoken in Persian by both the author and the reader.
The study of Middle Persian and of the so-called Pahlavi texts was then furthered mainly by Martin Haug with his epoch-making “Essay on the Pahlavi Language” and the publication (together with Hoshangji Jamaspji Asa) of the old “Zand-Pahlavi” and “Pahlavi-Pazand” glossaries (Bombay and London, 1867 and 1870 respectively) and (together with Edward W. West) of The Book of Ardâ-Vîrâf (Bombay and London, 1872). Haug also tried to take into account for the study of the language of the Zoroastrian writings that of the Sasanian inscriptions, even if the longer inscriptions had not yet been read in a satisfactory manner. Less innovative and therefore of minor significance for the history of research are the relevant publications of Friedrich Spiegel, who was one of the first, however, to study Pāzand texts and language, and of Ferdinand Justi, whose Der Bundehesh (Leipzig, 1868) contained the edition and translation of the text and a full glossary.
The firm basis for the integration of Middle Persian into the whole of the Iranian languages in general and of the Persian linguistic history in particular was laid by the eminent Iranian scholar Heinrich Hübschmann (1848-1908), who is known, however, especially as the “father” of modern Armenology. In his book Persische Studien (Strassburg, 1895), he demonstrated the etymological ties of New Persian to Middle Persian and to the Old Iranian languages and thus expounded the historical development of Old, Middle, and New Persian phonology.
The next period in the history of Middle Persian studies was introduced in 1904 by the first publications of Manichean Middle Persian texts discovered by the First Prussian Turfan expedition. The fully vocalized Manichean script used there for Middle Persian (as well as for Parthian and Sogdian) facilitated a better knowledge of the phonetic structure and pronunciation of Middle Persian words. A number of profound and important studies have been contributed in particular by Hübschmann’s pupil Bartholomae (studies on Sasanian and post-Sasanian Middle Persian texts and the dialectological problems which had won special relevance) and by Bartholomae’s pupil Heinrich F. J. Junker, who in different form twice edited the old Frahang ī pahlawīg (1912, 1955). The Sasanian law-book (as normally it is called), Mādayān ī hazār dādestān, formerly studied by Bartholomae, was picked up again by Maria Macuch in two monographs published in 1981 and 1993 respectively.
Research on the Middle Persian papyri from the period of the occupation of Egypt by the Sasanians (ca 619-29 C.E.) had been initiated by Olaf Hansen in his fundamental book Die mittelpersischen Papyri … (1938). This first major edition of the papyri, which because of their cursive writing were difficult to read, recently has been continued by Dieter Weber (whose doctorate thesis is on the Middle Iranian inchoative verbs) with a publication of all of the ostraca, papyri, and parchments available (Corpus Inscr. Iran. III/4, Texts, I, London, 1992).
The first modern collection and treatment of the Middle Persian and Parthian inscriptions of Sasanian times was Ernst Herzfeld’s weighty book Paikuli (1924), which for paleography has not yet been replaced and has kept its significance until today, although there have subsequently been found important texts such as those of Naqš-e Rostam. Outstanding among the recent publications in the epigraphical field is Helmut Humbach and Prods O. Skjærvø, The Sassanian Inscription of Paikuli (3 vols. in 4 parts, Wiesbaden, 1978-83), the text-restoration and translation of which are based on a complete study of Middle Persian and Parthian inscriptional language.
Extraordinarily rich Buddhist, Christian, Manichean, and secular texts, in seventeen different languages and twenty-four different scripts altogether, have been uncovered and brought to Berlin by the four Prussian Turfan Expeditions. They reveal that several Middle Iranian languages, more or less unknown previously, were in use over a wide range of territory. Whereas until their discovery only one single language of the Middle Iranian period, namelythe Middle Persian idiom of the Zoroastrian books and a few Sasanian inscriptions, had been known, the enormous amount of new finds enriched and revolutionalized the knowledge of such languages in an unimaginable manner. Thus, since 1904, when the first editions of texts by Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Müller (1863-1930, then director of the Berlin Museum for Ethnology) appeared, the field of Iranian studies has constantly widened and broadened. In particular, the situation has changed fundamentally for the scarcely attested Old Iranian languages, the study of which no longer has to rely on comparison with the Vedic cognates alone, but can now be based much more often than before on that new Middle Iranian (Middle Persian, Parthian, Sogdian, Khotanese, and even Chorasmian) evidence. Likewise, the reconstruction and recovery of the Proto-Iranian and even Proto-Aryan languages has become possible more and more completely.
The publication of those Iranian texts found in Turfan and other places of Chinese Turkestan, which had begun immediately after the end of the First Expedition (1902-3) owing to Müller (“Handschriften-Reste in Estrangelo-Schrift aus Turfan, Chinesisch-Turkistan. I,” SPAW, 1904, pp. 348-52), was continued by F. C. Andreas, his pupils Wolfgang Lentz and W. B. Henning (who probably is the one who has edited the most of the Manichaica; see his Selected Papers, Acta Iranica 14-15, Leiden etc., 1977), Olaf Hansen, and Werner Sundermann (1935-), who presently is in charge of the collection. The task of editing these texts is not yet completed. The study of the wealth of materials in the Turfan Collection (including cataloguing [Boyce] and working on the texts) is, of course, not in the hands of German scholars alone, mainly because of Henning’s emigration and his successful career in England. Since 1971, seventeen volumes have been published in the series of Berliner Turfantexte, several of them being prepared by Sundermann. To him we owe also two impressive volumes of the Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum, containing photographic reproductions (Supplementary series II-III, London, 1990-96). However successful the study of the Iranian Turfan texts has been till now, there are great tasks to cope with in the future, namely both the complete edition of the texts themselves and their systematic and exhaustive treatment.
The Prussian Turfan Expeditions found for the first time remains of the original literature of the Manicheans and Manichean discussions of Manicheanism; those Iranian (Middle Persian, Parthian, and Sogdian) Manichaica are a special feature of the Berlin collection and have put the study of that religion on a new foundation. Moreover, Christian Sogdian texts are available only in this collection; similarly, texts in the Hephthalite language and the rare documents and Buddhist texts in the Saka dialect of Tumšuq and Maral-baši are found almost exclusively in the Berlin collection.
The most important linguistic studies on Middle Iranian in general are due to Henning (see his “Mitteliranisch,” which unfortunately is not reprinted in his Selected Papers), but other scholars like the Austrian Paul Tedesco (a student of Bernhard Geiger) also deserve to be mentioned. Tedesco’s most significant contributions were his early articles about the main features of West Iranian dialectology in view of the evidence of the Turfan texts (MO 15, 1921, pp. 184-258) and about East Iranian nominal inflexion (ZII 4, 1926, pp. 94-166).
The first major edition of Sogdian texts was prepared by F. W. K. Müller (Soghdische Texte I-II, Berlin, 1913-34; vol. 2 posthumously edited by Lentz). The Buddhist and other (secular) Sogdian manuscripts, preserved in the British Museum, have been published by Hans Reichelt in two volumes (Die soghdischen Handschriftenreste des britischen Museums, 2 vols., Heidelberg, 1928-31), the second volume containing the first full edition of the so-called “Ancient Letters” (q.v.). His pupil Olaf Hansen presented part of the Christian Sogdian texts of the Turfan Collection (1941-55) and Werner Sundermann part of the Manichean texts on ecclesiastical history and on parables (1981-85). Several critical editions of a confession text, some lists, etc., and other papers on problems of the Sogdian language by Henning are reprinted in his Selected Papers. The first treatment of the bulk of Sogdian inscriptions of the Upper Indus Valley found since 1979 was by Helmut Humbach (“Die sogdischen Inschriftenfunde vom oberen Indus[Pakistan],” Algemeine und Verglechende Arcäologie. Beiträge 2, 1980 , pp. 201-28).
Among the pioneers of research on the Khotanese texts was the Swiss Indologist Ernst Leumann (1859-1931), although he named that language (not being Iranian according to him) “North Aryan” (first in Zur nordarischen Sprache und Literatur, Strassburg, 1912), by which name he stood to the end. In more recent time a great deal of fundamental studies on Khotanese texts and documents and on their philological and linguistic interpretation has been published by Ronald E. Emmerick (1937-); a full bibliography of whose writings is included in his Guide to the Literature of Khotan (2nd ed., Tokyo, 1992, pp. 53-61).
For decades (since 1936) Henning attended to the study of the Chorasmian language, and even if only little of his work on the Chorasmian words and sentences in medieval Arabic texts has been completed (A Fragment of a Khwarezmian Dictionary, [posthumously] ed. D. N. MacKenzie, London, 1971), he must be regarded as the true pioneer in that field, just as he is one of the first scholars who successfully dealt with the Bactrian inscriptions. As to Chorasmian, Henning’s studies have been continued in a sense by his former student David N. MacKenzie (most recently in his The Khwarezmian Element in the “Qunyat al-Munya,” London, 1990). Both Chorasmian and Bactrian belong to the East Iranian group as do Sogdian and Khotanese; knowledge of them has expanded our horizon and have made it possible to clarify the classification and relationship of all the Iranian languages.
German scholars have been involved also in research on the Scythians, Sarmatians, etc. and their linguistic remains. The first to connect the Scythians on the Black Sea coast with the Iranian peoples have been the German scholars Johann Kaspar Zeuss (1806-56) and Karl Müllenhoff (1818-84); Die Iranier in Südrussland (Leipzig, 1923) by the Slavicist Max Vasmer, who was searching for the original homeland of the Slavs through a process of elimination, has not lost some of its importance up to now.
Iranian onomastics. The study of Old Iranian toponyms and personal names is inseparably connected with the names of several German-speaking scholars: The first step in this field was taken by August Friedrich Pott (1802-87), professor of general linguistics at Halle University, with his long article “Ueber altpersische Eigennamen” (ZDMG 13, 1859, pp. 359-444). Later August Fick included the Iranian anthroponyms in the Indo-European system (Schmitt, 1995), and Ferdinand Justi created with his Iranisches Namenbuch (Marburg, 1895, repr. Hildesheim, 1963) a standard work that was to contain all personal names attested for all periods of Iranian history and has not yet been replaced in full, though it has long since become outdated as a result of abundant new evidence.
The revival of Iranian anthroponomastic studies in the last decades has been caused by the extensive new evidence in the collateral tradition and has been initiated by Manfred Mayrhofer, who created the Committee of Iranian Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and arranged the publication Iranisches Personennamenbuch, for which he himself prepared the volume dealing with the personal names attested in the Avestan texts and the Old Persian inscriptions (1977-79). To include the Iranian personal names attested in the non-Iranian so-called collateral tradition as fully as possible and to study the entire anthroponomastic material within the context of the Indo-European and the Indo-Iranian onomastic system is the aim of many papers by Rüdiger Schmitt (1939-). Wilhelm Eilers (1906-89) wrote also several studies on Iranian personal names (as attested in the Late Babylonian documents), but he was much more interested in the geographical toponyms of Persia and adjacent countries and published a number of important contributions to those problems (e.g., “Der Name Demawend,” Archiv Orientální 22, 1954, pp. 267-374, 24, 1956, pp. 183-224, 37, 1969, pp. 416-48; Iranische Ortsnamenstudien, Vienna, 1987).
Pre-Islamic culture and history. For the study of Iranian culture and history we have to analyze, even if we confine ourselves to the textual evidence, a great number of sources, chiefly those written in cuneform script and Akkadian, Elamite, or Old Persian language; those in other Semitic languages (Aramaic, Hebrew); and the multitude of classical authors. Among the literature dealing with pre-Islamic Iranian culture in a rather broad sense (including writing, languages, and literary sources as well as history and religion, geography and ethnography) are the accounts of Friedrich Spiegel (Érânische Alterthumskunde, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1871-78), Wilhelm Geiger (Ostiranische Kultur im Altertum, Erlangen, 1882), Ferdinand Justi (Geschichte des alten Persiens, Berlin, 1879), and the same author’s contribution to the Grundriss (II, pp. 395-550). Since those early studies scarcely any comprehensive survey on such a variety of topics has been published.
With due care, ancient Iran was included in the writings of the universal historian Eduard Meyer (1855-1930), especially in his Geschichte des Altertums (9th ed., 8 vols., Essen, 1984); but it has been Meyer, too, who first recognized in the names of Median chieftains mentioned in Assyrian texts the oldest datable evidence of Iranian linguistic material (Mayrhofer, 1994). Equally wide-ranging were the interests of the Austrian historian Max Büdinger (1828-1902), who wrote on the fall of the Median empire (1880) as well as on the history of Austria in the Middle Ages.
Intensive work on the history of Iran, Central Asia, and the entire Near East in pre-Islamic times has been done by Franz Altheim (1898-1976), professor of Ancient History at the Free University of Berlin after 1950, who tried to take into consideration the sources written in various Oriental languages. His numerous writings such as Geschichte der Hunnen (5 vols., Berlin, 1959-62) or Geschichte Mittelasiens im Altertum (together with Ruth Stiehl, Berlin, 1970), which despite their titles are by no means systematic accounts, are both stimulating and controversial because they often mingle established facts and speculative hypotheses. The history and civilization of Achaemenid and pre-Achaemenid Iran were the concern of Justin V. Prášek (Geschichte der Meder und Perser bis zur makedonischen Eroberung, 2 vols., Gotha, 1906-10); Julius Junge (Saka-Studien. Der Ferne Nordosten im Weltbild der Antike, Leipzig, 1939; Dareios I., König der Perser, Leipzig, 1944; Georg Hüsing (1869-1930); Walther Hinz (1906-92), who did much work on the source materials themselves and their historical evaluation (esp. with regard to the Persepolis tablets) and presented an overall view of Achaemenid culture and history in his Darius und die Perser (2 vols., Baden-Baden, 1976-79); and the Swiss historian Gerold Walser (1917-), the author of Die Völkerschaften auf den Reliefs von Persepolis (Berlin, 1966) and Hellas und Iran (Darmstadt, 1984).
Parthian history has been treated by Alfred von Gutschmid (1831-87) in Geschichte Irans und seiner Nachbarländer von Alexander dem Grossen bis zum Untergang der Arsaciden (Tübingen, 1888), and the Sasanian state by Franz Altheim and Ruth Stiehl in Ein asiatischer Staat: Feudalismus unter den Sasaniden und ihren Nachbarn I (Wiesbaden, 1954). The whole of pre-Islamic Iran is the subject of Josef Wiesehöfer’s Das antike Persien: Von 550 v.Chr. bis 650 n. Chr. (Munich and Zurich, 1994; tr. A. Azodi as Ancient Persia, London and New York, 1996). The same author, to whom we owe also a voluminous bibliography on Achaemenid studies (see Weber and Wiesehöfer), has tried to shed light on the “dark centuries” of Persis between the Achaemenid and the Sasanian periods on the basis of the written and other sources (Die ‘dunklen’ Jahrhunderte der Persis, Munich, 1994) and has explored the question of how, under the Nazi regime, German scholars working on Achaemenid Iran were guided by racial theories and the Nazi Weltanschauung (Wiesehöfer, 1988).
Historical geography. The historical geography of Iran and all the countries inhabited by Iranian-speaking peoples were first investigated by Ferdinand Justi (Beiträge zur alten Geographie von Persien, 2 pts., Marburg, 1869-70). But it was mainly two other German-speaking scholars who worked in the field of pre-Islamic Near East and Central Asia, namely Wilhelm Tomaschek (1841-1901), from 1883 professor of historical geography at the University of Vienna, and Josef Marquart/Markwart, from 1912 professor of Iranian and Armenian philology at Berlin University, both of whom were gifted with a wide knowledge of languages and of the relevant literary and epigraphic sources.
Tomaschek is the author of, among other books, “Centralasiatische Studien” (2 pts., 1877-80), “Zur historischen Topographie von Persien” (102, 1883, pp. 145-231, 108, 1885, pp. 561-652), “Kritik der ältesten Nachrichten über den skythischen Norden” (2 pts., 1888-89), and “TopographischeErläuterung der Küstenfahrt Nearchs vom Indus bis zum Euphrat” (1890), all published in the Sb. der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. The historico-geographical studies by Marquart are still more characterized by the close relation to epigraphy, paleography, philology, and linguistics, but they are not undisputed as well: Die Assyriaka des Ktesias (Göttingen, 1893), Ērānšahr nach der Geographie des Ps. Moses Xorenacʿi (Berlin, 1901, repr. Göttingen, 1970), Südarmenien und die Tigrisquellen nach grieschischen und arabischen Geographen (Vienna, 1930), and Wehrot und Arang: Untersuchungen zur mythischen und geschichtlichen Landeskunde von Ostiran (ed. H. H. Schaeder, Leiden, 1938). He also edited and translated with notes and commentary the Šahristānīhā ī Ērān (publ. as A Catalogue of the Provencial Capitals of Ērānšahr, ed. G. Messina, Rome, 1931).
An attempt at a summary of historical geography and ethnography of Ancient Iran (and beyond) in pre-Islamic times is Ernst Herzfeld’s The Persian Empire (posthumously ed. G. Walser, Wiesbaden, 1968). For the following period, i.e., for the geography of medieval Iran, Paul Schwarz, Iran im Mittelalter nach den arabischen Geographen (10 pts., Leipzig etc., 1896-1936), its author’s life’s work, is of fundamental significance. To that field of research belongs also Alfons Gabriel’s Die Erforschung Persiens (Vienna, 1952), which delineates the development of the knowledge of Western authors about the geography of Iran proper.
From etymological interpretations of geographical names and from allusions to geographical facts in the old texts, the Swiss Hermann Brunnhofer (1841-1917) attempted to draw conclusions on the prehistory and the migrations of both the ancient Aryan peoples in an all too daring and imaginative manner. He maintained that the environment described in the Vedic hymns has to be looked for in Eastern Iran and neighboring Middle Asia, on the Oxus and Jaxartes; see his (according to their subtitles) historico-geographical and ethnological studies Iran und Turan (Leipzig, 1889), Vom Pontus bis zum Indus (Leipzig, 1890), Vom Aral bis zur Gangâ (Leipzig, 1892), and Arische Urzeit (Bern, 1910).
Numismatics. The first decipherment of legends of Sasanian coins is due to Justus Olshausen, whose Die Pehlewîlegenden auf den Münzen der letzten Sâsâniden (Copenhagen, 1843) kept its significance for a while in terms of its relevance for paleography. In the course of time there followed a great number of articles, mainly by Bernhard Dorn and Andreas David Mordtmann, to which must be added the studies on Sasanian seals and sealings by Paul Horn and Georg Steindorff (Sassanidische Siegelsteine, Berlin, 1891).
By means of new methods of description and classification, Robert Göbl (1919-97), professor of numismatics and the history of Central Asia at the University of Vienna from 1961, was the first to reconstruct the typological system of Sasanian coinage. In numerous articles and a number of monographs he presented systematic studies on the coinage of the Sasanians, the Iranian Huns, and the Kushans as well as on Sasanian sphragistics, the most fundamental of which are the following: Dokumente zur Geschichte der Iranischen Hunnen in Baktrien und Indien (4 vols., Wiesbaden, 1967); Sasanian Numismatics (Braunschweig, 1971); Die Tonbullen vom Tacht-e Suleiman (Berlin, 1976); System und Chronologie der Münzprägung des Kušānreiches (Vienna, 1984), and Donum Burns. Die Kušānmünzen im Münzkabinett Bern und die Chronologie (Vienna, 1993). Moreover, Göbl deserves credit for establishing the Numismatic Central Card File (Numismatische Zentralkartei) of the Institute of Numismatics at Vienna University, where the most comprehensive documentation of pre-Islamic Iranian coins can be found. One of Göbl’s pupils is Michael Alram (1956-), who studied the Iranian personal names attested on ancient coins in his book Nomina propria Iranica in nummis (=Iranisches Personennamenbuch IV, Vienna, 1986).
Art and archeology. The first German who conducted successful reseach in accordance with scholarly methodology in Persia, mainly at Persepolis, was Carsten Niebuhr, who is also known for having made the first careful copies of the inscriptions at Persepolis. Although the archeological exploration of Iran has been undertaken systematically from the middle of the 19th century, very little German archeological and epigraphical research took place in Persia before World War I. Among the predecessors of archeologists proper, only the exploratory trip in 1874 of Andreas and the photographer Franz Stolze (as part of an expedition for astronomical observation) to Persepolis, Pasargadae, and Fārs in general, which primarily served to promote the study of Sasanian inscriptions, is of some importance. The volumes they produced (Franz Stolze [with contributions by Andreas and Th. Nöldeke], Persepolis, 2 vols., Berlin, 1882) are in fact the first books on Persepolis copiously illustrated with photographs.
Nonetheless the actual founder of Iranian archeology (for the bibliography see Vanden Berghe, 1959; 1979; Vanden Berghe and Haerinck, 1981-87; Wölffling, 1974; Balzer and Trümpelmann, 1977) was Ernst Herzfeld (1879-1948), who set as his aim the exploration of the Achaemenid capitals Pasargadae and Persepolis, started excavations at both these places, and demonstrated that the ruins in the Morḡāb plain are the remnants of ancient Pasargadae. Thus the credit for initiating archeological research in Persia in the 20th century belongs to Herzfeld, who held a chair of Oriental regional studies and archaeology at the University of Berlin from 1917 and, after emigrating to the United States in 1935, was professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.
Herzfeld, both an architect and archeologist, is without a doubt the most prominent figure in the history of archeological research on ancient Iran; he is also the author of important epigraphical publications (Altpersische Inschriften, Berlin, 1938) and of wide-ranging special studies on linguistic problems and on the history of religion (Zoroaster and His World, 2 vols., Princeton, 1947). From 1897 he did a lot of traveling in Persia in order to record a large number of ancient archeological monuments (not only in Fārs), partly together with Friedrich Sarre (1865-1945), the author of Die Kunst des Alten Persien (Berlin, 1923), who attended more to Parthian, Sasanian, and especially to Islamic art, however (see also Denkmäler persischer Baukunst, Berlin, 1910). The result of their co-operation is the large volume of Iranische Felsreliefs (Berlin, 1910).
Influential contributions by Herzfeld, in addition to those already mentioned, are Am Tor von Asien (Berlin, 1920), Archaeological History of Iran (London, 1935), Iran in the Ancient East (London, 1941), and last but not least the nine volumes of the Archaeologische Mitteilungen aus Iran (Berlin, 1929-38). But above all Herzfeld’s name is connected with the excavations and investigations at Persepolis (under the auspices of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago), which were headed first (in 1931-34) by him, yielding sensational new discoveries and opening new horizons. They were carried on from 1935 by Erich F. Schmidt (1897-1964), who performed excavations also at Tepe Ḥeṣār (Hissar), Estaḵr, and Naqš-e Rostam. His three monumental folio-volumes of Persepolis (Chicago, 1953-70) have ensured that his name will live on. Schmidt also undertook reconnaissance flights over large parts of Persia in order to locate archeological monuments and sites with aerial photographs, the results of which are published in his Flights over Ancient Cities of Iran (Chicago, 1940).
Furthermore, mention must be made, among others, of the works of Kurt Erdmann (mainly on Sasasian art, e.g., Die Kunst Irans zur Zeit der Sasaniden, Berlin, 1943), Klaus Schippmann (Die iranischen Feuerheiligtümer, Berlin, 1971), Leo Trümpelmann (on Achaemenid and Sasanian art: e.g., Zwischen Persepolis und Firuzabad. Gräber, Paläste und Felsreliefs im alten Persien, Zurich, 1991), Peter Calmeyer, and Gerd Gropp (1935-), who at last published in 1974 the finds of the German expedition to Khotan in 1927-28 (the so-called Trinker collection in Bremen).
Out of the excavations conducted by German archeologists may be named those at Taḵt-e Solaymān under Rudolf Naumann (from 1959) and later under Dietrich Huff; Naumann did work also at Fīrūzābād in Fārs. Momentous research on the Bīsotūn relief has been carried out by Heinz Luschey and other members of the German Archaeological Institute (most recently, W. Kleiss and P. Calmeyer, eds., Bisutun: Ausgrabungen und Forschungen in den Jahren 1963-1967, Berlin, 1996). Wolfram Kleiss not only excavated the Urartian fortress on Besṭām (q.v.) in Azerbaijan, but also undertook extended exploratory trips and surveys in the whole country, where his special interest was in caravansaries and old caravan routes. The only Austrian expedition to be mentioned is that at Kordlar Tepe under Karl Kromer (from 1971) and Andreas Lippert (from 1974).
Elamite studies. Elam, the Elamite language, and Elamite culture in general always receded a little into the background of Near Eastern studies, because the language does not belong to any of the world’s major language families, but seems to be rather isolated and is still quite difficult for scholars to understand. After the first basic studies by Niels Ludvig Westergaard and Edwin Norris (in the 1840s and 1850s) there have been involved in deciphering and understanding Elamite language (for a full bibliography see Hinz and Koch, pp. 1332-68) and Elamite culture in general a great number of German-speaking scholars such as A. D. Mordtmann (ZDMG 16, 1862, pp. 1-126; 24, 1870, pp. 1-84), Julius Oppert (Le peuple et la langue des Mèdes [sic], Paris, 1879), Peter Jensen, Franz Heinrich Weissbach (the author of Die Achämenideninschriften zweiter Art, Leipzig 1890; Die Keilinschriften der Achämeniden, Leipzig, 1911, and a multitude of other titles), Georg Hüsing, Willy Foy, Ferdinand Bork, and the Austrian Friedrich Wilhelm König (1897-1972), who for the first time collected the Old Elamite texts in his Corpus Inscriptionum Elamicarum (I only, Hannover, 1926) and later edited all Elamite royal inscriptions (Die elamischen Königsinschriften, Graz, 1965).
A particular interest in Elamite culture characterizes some of those Iranists who have specialized in research about Old Persian or the Achaemenid period in general. Here it is primarily Walther Hinz who must be mentioned as a kind of pioneer in some respects. It was he who in 1961 succeeded in deciphering the so-called Elamite Linear Writing (Iranica Antiqua 2, 1962, pp. 1-21) and who for the first time wrote a more detailed account on the history and culture of the Elamites in his book Das Reich Elam (Stuttgart, 1964). His studies on the Achaemenid Elamite texts, i.e., both the royal inscriptions and the Persepolis tablets, induced him to the ambitious and risky undertaking of preparing, together with his pupil Heidemarie Koch, for the first time a comprehensive two-volume Elamite dictionary covering all the texts from the oldest to the latest times (Elamisches Wörterbuch, Berlin 1987).
The exploitation and utilization of the Persepolis tablets in the Elamite language has been furthered, among others, with regard to the factual evidence also by Koch (Verwaltung und Wirtschaft im persischen Kernland zur Zeit der Achämeniden, Wiesbaden, 1990), and with regard to the Iranian anthroponyms mainly by Manfred Mayrhofer (Onomastica Persepolitana, Vienna, 1973) and Rüdiger Schmitt.
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Originally Published: December 15, 2001
Last Updated: February 7, 2012
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