Bonmann, Svenja ORCID: 0000-0002-4005-7891, Halfmann, Jakob ORCID: 0000-0003-3184-4022, Korobzow, Natalie ORCID: 0000-0002-2814-2081 and Bobomulloev, Bobomullo ORCID: 0000-0002-6242-2087 (2023). A Partial Decipherment of the Unknown Kushan Script. Transactions of the Philological Society, 121 (2). pp. 293-329. Wiley-Blackwell. ISSN 1467-968X

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Several dozen inscriptions in an unknown writing system have been discovered in an area stretching geographically from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to southern Afghanistan. Most inscriptions can be dated to the period from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE, yet all attempts at decipherment have so far been unsuccessful. The recent discovery of previously unknown inscriptions near the Almosi gorge, Tajikistan, however, allows for a renewed attempt at decipherment. Drawing upon a catalogue of characters and a distributional analysis, we report two identical sequences in the newly found Almosi inscriptions and in the Dasht-i Nawur trilingual. Based on parallel texts in Bactrian, we suggest to read the name of the Kushan emperor Vema Takhtu in these sequences, accompanied by the title ‘king of kings’ and several epithets. This allows for the deduction of probable phonetic values of 15 different consonantal signs and four vocalic diacritics and the inference that the inscriptions record a previously unknown Middle Iranian language.

Item Type: Journal Article
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-707744
DOI: 10.1111/1467-968X.12269
Journal or Publication Title: Transactions of the Philological Society
Volume: 121
Number: 2
Page Range: pp. 293-329
Date: 2023
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1467-968X
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 1: Kunstgeschichte, Musikwissenschaft, Medienkultur und Theater, Linguistik, IDH > Institut für Linguistik > Historisch-Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft
Subjects: Library and information sciences
Language, Linguistics
Other languages
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Decipherment, Kushan, Kushan Script, Middle Iranian, Bactrian, Khotanese, Saka, AlmosiEnglish
Refereed: Yes


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