Recorded: February 23, 2022
Event: Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series
Citation: Rezania, Kianoosh. "How Did the Ancient Iranians Coordinate Space? On the Old Iranian Absolute Frame of Reference." Pourdavoud Center: Pourdavoud Center Lecture Series (February 23, 2022).
by Kianoosh Rezania (Ruhr University Bochum)
For verbal expression and nonverbal cognitive processing of spatial relations between two objects, the speakers of a language use different frames of reference. (Psycho)linguistics classifies these into three main groups: intrinsic, relative, and absolute. This lecture aims to identify the old Iranian absolute frame of reference. After a short explanation of different frames of reference, the presentation will examine four sorts of evidence to this end: Avestan and Old Persian textual testimonies, the direction of Zoroastrian ritual in the Old Iranian period, and the direction of some significant Achaemenid architectural constructions. The lecture will show that the ancient Iranians did not use the four geocentric cardinal points of east, west, south and north as the cardinal directions of their absolute frame of reference, as research has implicitly taken for granted so far. The evidence, conversely, suggests that the old Iranian absolute frame of reference was constituted by the sunrise and sunset points of the winter and summer solstices.
About the Speaker
Kianoosh Rezania is professor for the History of West Asian Religions at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University Bochum, the co-director of the International Research Consortium Käte-Hamburger-Kolleg “Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe,” and the PI of the long-term project “Zoroastrian Middle Persian: Digital Corpus and Dictionary (MPCD).” His main research interests cover history of Zoroastrianism, Middle Persian literature, the development of the concepts of time and space in (late) antiquity as well as Digital Humanities.
He holds a M.Sc. in Computer Science from Sharif University of Technology (Tehran 1998), a M.A. in Iranian Studies from the University of Tehran (2002) and a Ph.D. in Old Iranian Studies from the Georg-August University Göttingen (2008).
Kianoosh Rezania is the author of Die zoroastrische Zeitvorstellung: eine Untersuchung über Zeit- und Ewigkeitskonzepte und die Frage des Zurvanismus (Harrassowitz 2010) and Die Raumkonzeptionen im älteren Zoroastrismus: kosmische, kultische und soziale Räume (Harrassowitz 2017).