Professor Almut Hintze FBA, Zartoshty Brothers Professor of Zoroastrianism at SOAS University of London, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Grant of just under €2.5 million (ca. £2 million) to investigate the Yasna, the core ritual of the Zoroastrian religion. The five-year project project ‘The Multimedia Yasna’ (MUYA), led by Almut Hintze, will film a performance of the Yasna ritual, transcribe the words which the priests recite, and examine their meaning and how they relate to the ritual actions and to the tradition of the manuscripts.
The project, which will start in October 2016, provides positions for three post-doctoral researchers and three doctoral students. The project will produce an interactive film of the full Yasna ritual to be published on-line. The film will make the words which the priests utter available to the observer in both aural and visual form in the form of sub-titles that run simultaneously with the spoken word and the visible ritual performance. The film will form the basis of further investigation and provide data for philological editions of parts of the Yasna. The editions will be based on the manuscripts and provide an English translation, commentary and glossary. In doing so, the project will adapt to the Avesta digital technology that has been developed for an ongoing edition of the Greek New Testament at the Universities of Birmingham, Münster and Trier.
Close collaboration with the Zoroastrian community is at the heart of the Multimedia Project. It will collaborate with the Dadar Athnornan Institute in Mumbai, whose principal, Dr Ramiyar Karanjia, is the project’s lead Indian collaborator. The project is supported by an international informal Advisory Group composed of Zoroastrian representatives from North America (Dolly Dastoor, Aban Rustomji, Ervad Gustad Panthaki, Ervad Dr Jehan Bagli), from Iran (Mobed Mehraban Firouzgary, Professor Ketayoun Mazdapour), from India (Dastur Dr Firoze M. Kotwal, Shernaz Cama), and from Europe (Malcolm Deboo, ZTFE, and Shahpur Captain, WZO).