Chapter

Ancient Afghanistan and its invaders: Linguistic evidence from the Bactrian documents and inscriptions

Nicholas Sims-Williams

in Indo-Iranian Languages and Peoples

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780197262856
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191753961 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197262856.003.0011

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Ancient Afghanistan and its invaders: Linguistic evidence from the Bactrian documents and inscriptions

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During the last ten years the corpus of Bactrian texts has increased dramatically. The dates of the Bactrian documents range from 342 to 781 a.d., a span of more than four centuries extending through the Kushano-Sasanian, Kidarite, Hephthalite, and Turkish periods, well into Islamic times. Apart from a few unidentifiable fragments and texts of uncertain type, the new Bactrian documents may be divided into four groups: (i) legal documents such as contracts and receipts; (ii) lists and accounts; (iii) letters; and (iv) Buddhist texts. As a result of these new finds, the corpus of Bactrian available for study is now much larger-perhaps as much as a hundred times larger—than it was ten years ago. Our knowledge of the Bactrian lexicon has increased correspondingly, perhaps by three or four times. This chapter examines this enlarged Bactrian vocabulary for linguistic data in the form of names and titles, loanwords and calques, in which one may hope to identify traces of the languages of the many peoples who held sway in Bactria during the course of its long and turbulent history.

Keywords: Bactrian texts; Bactrian language; legal documents; lists; accounts; letters; Buddhist texts; Bactrian vocabulary; names; titles

Chapter.  8090 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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