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How Did the Ancient Iranians Coordinate Space? On the Old Iranian Absolute Frame of Reference

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Pourdavoud Center Lecture by Prof. Dr. Kianoosh Rezania (CERES/RUB, Bochum)

The lecture is organised by the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World, UCLA. For more information click here.

For verbal expression and nonverbal cognitive processing of spatial relations between two objects, the speakers of a language use different frames of reference. (Psycho)linguistics classifies these into three main groups: intrinsic, relative, and absolute.This lecture aims to identify the old Iranian absolute frame of reference. After a short explanation of different frames of reference, the presentation will examine four sorts of evidence to this end: Avestan and Old Persian textual testimonies, the direction of Zoroastrian ritual in the Old Iranian period, and the direction of some significant Achaemenid architectural constructions. The lecture will show that the ancient Iranians did not use the four geocentric cardinal points of east, west, south and north as the cardinal directions of their absolute frame of reference, as research has implicitly taken for granted so far. The evidence, conversely, suggests that the old Iranian absolute frame of reference was constituted by the sunrise and sunset points of the winter and summer solstices.

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