Spring 2016 SEMINARS - February 3 2016

Seminar on Iranian Studies

Dear Iranian Studies Seminar Members and Guests,
The fifth meeting of the 28th consecutive year of Columbia University Seminar on
Iranian Studies for the academic year 2015-2016 will take place on:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
at 5:30 pm in the
Faculty House of Columbia University

The speaker will be
Dr. Amir AhmadiMonash University, Melbourne, Australia
Who will lead the discussion on:

Current Research on Avestan Studies

We will gather in the lounge of Faculty House from 5:00-5:30.
Seminar will start at 5:30.
Please notify our Rapporteur, Josiah Bethards, at jjb2190@columbia.edu, if you will attend the lecture. (Please also specify if you will stay for dinner.)

We are looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you at the seminar.
Co-Chairs: Vahid Nowshirvani and Ahmad Ashraf

To reach the Faculty House:
Enter the Wien Hall Gate on 116th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. Walk past Wien Hall, then turn right to the Faculty House.


The collection of texts known as the Avesta is the oldest surviving document of ancient Iran. Zoroastrians consider the Avesta their ‘Holy Book’. The seminar will discuss the nature, language, and history of these texts, and the major religious-historical approaches to them in the West since the beginning of the 20th century. I will argue that the provenance and mainstay of Zoroastrianism is the concern with the postmortem fate of the soul, and the images and rituals associated with this. Archaic and Classical Greeks consistently described the religion of the Magi with two specific characteristics: comprehensive (cosmic) dualism and universal eschatology, the doctrine of the end of the world. The significance of Zoroastrian eschatology cannot be overemphasized, both in its uniqueness and its impact, for example, on Christianity and Islam. We will briefly examine the Zoroastrian doctrine of the end of the worldly time in religious-historical perspective.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ahmadi is an Adjunct Research Fellow at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He works on the myths and rituals of pre-Islamic Iran and, more generally, ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures. His current research topic is the relation between sacrifice and eschatology in Indo-European myths. He has published numerous articles on Zoroastrianism in scholarly journals or as a book chapter. He is the author of The Daēva Cult in the Gāthās: An Ideological Archeology of Zoroastrianism, Routledge, London, 2015. 

Josiah Bethards
JD candidate
Columbia Law School