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The Place Names of the Avroman Parchments

  • C. J. Edmonds

The Avromān parchments, two (I and II) in Greek and one (III) in Parthian, were brought to England in 1913 by Dr. Sa'īd Khan Kurdistāni and were acquired soon afterwards by the British Museum. Professor E. H. Minns, of Pembroke College, Cambridge, in his article ‘Parchments of the Parthian Period from Avroman in Kurdistan’, published in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, 1915, has translated and discussed at length the two Greek texts. The latest and most authoritative of several articles on the Parthian manuscript is that of Dr. H. S. Nyberg entitled ‘The Pahlavi Documents from Avroman’, in Le Monde Oriental of 1923. The summary of information relevant to the present paper given in the following three paragraphs is based on these articles.

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page 478 note 1 I have to thank Professors Sidney Smith and W. B. Henning for these and other references and for valuable criticisms and suggestions.

page 478 note 2 As calculated by Minns.

page 479 note 1 With the map-makers I use this name for convenience; in Kurdistān the names of mountain ranges generally vary from sector to sector and sometimes according to the side of the mountain on which the speaker lives or happens to be standing.

page 480 note 1 Speiser, E. A., ‘Southern Kurdistan in the Annals of Ashurnasirpal,’ in the Annals of the, American Schools of Oriental Besearch, vol. viii, for 19261927.

page 480 note 2 See my note, ‘Two Ancient Monuments in Southern Kurdistan,’ in the Geographical Journal, vol. lxv, 1925, and Smith, Sidney, Early History of Assyria, p. 97.

page 480 note 3 A popular but hardly acceptable etymology for BĀSIRA was once given me by an ingenious Kurd: B A wind and SIRHE (from SIRHĪN ‘to wipe’), the rubbing noise of the wind as it rushes through the gap. The British military maps and those of the Iraq Surveys with names originally in English spell the name indifferently BASIRA and BASIRRA, with no indication of quantity; the latest (1: 500,000) map with names in Arabic has but since it was not improbably transliterated from the English, or if it was written down by a Kurd he would not have hesitated to use to represent short i (as he would have written for short u or for short a), the presence of the is not necessarily authoritative. Ernst Herzfeld, in the map accompanying his Paikuli (Berlin, 1924), spells the name BA'SIRRA. Neither my own recollection (I have been through or near the gap many times) nor any other of the sources here quoted supports the presence of an ‘ain, hamza or other pause at the end of the first syllable. His use of the double Rr may, however, be due to the sound of the rolled Kurdish R, which the Kurds sometimes distinguish by a dot placed under the thus , and which I write Rh. My recollection, supported by the popular etymology, is that the i is short and the r rolled.

page 481 note 1 Tarn, W. W., ‘Seleucid-Parthian Studies,’ in the Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. xvi.

page 481 note 2 Verbal information from Professor Sidney Smith.

page 482 note 1 Tarn, loc. cit., gives reasons for believing that the major sub-division of the old satrapies was the eparchy and that the hyparchies were secondary subdivisions, some of which might have been quite small.

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Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
  • ISSN: 0041-977X
  • EISSN: 1474-0699
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-the-school-of-oriental-and-african-studies
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