Avestan Society

Prods Oktor Skjærvø

in The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199732159
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Avestan Society


The Avestan language present in the area stretching from the Aral Sea to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan and southeast of the Caspian Sea was in circulation between the second and first millennium bc. Absence of real-life narratives and contemporary historical references renders impossible determination of the historical context of the Avestan texts. The language itself is connected to Rigvedic languages. The geographical references in the Avesta, a compilation of Avestan texts, make it possible to forge links between Central Asia and Iran. There exists an older and a younger form of Avestan, comparable to Rigvedic and Achaemenid Old Persian, respectively. According to the Avesta, several texts were spoken by Ahura Mazdā to Zarathustra who communicated them to mankind. Avestan worldviews are mostly myth-based and includes substantial amounts of eschatology and cosmology. There also exists a curious geographical dichotomy between “the world of thought” and the world of the living.

Keywords: Avesta; Rigvedic languages; eschatology; Aral Sea; real-life narrative; Avestan language

Article.  25981 words. 

Subjects: History ; Asian History

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