From Aksara to Corpora: Tracing the Development of Buddhist Textuality and Manuscript Networks in Greater Gandhara

01 November 2022 → 13 November 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Indian languages
    • Other Asian literatures
    • Philology
    • Study of Buddhism
    • Comparative study of religion
Buddhist Studies Philological study Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts Buddhist textuality and manuscript production
Project description

The foundation of the academic study of the development of Buddhism lies in research of surviving textual material first composed in Indic languages over centuries before and into the first millennium. In the last several years, fantastic manuscript finds have surfaced opening new windows into the history of Buddhist literature. I am one of the few scholars to have access to such material. This project centers around the study of two large, recently discovered caches of highly important early Buddhist sutra manuscripts composed in Sanskrit mainly in the Gilgit/Bamiyan 1 script dating from the 6–7th centuries CE from the historic region of Greater Gandhara covering modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan. The first cache was excavated from the Mes Aynak archeological site in Afghanistan and the second is a collection of newly identified manuscripts held in a private collection in Thailand. The philological and critical research conducted in this project will examine textual and material production, transmission, and relationship networks in the Buddhist manuscript cultures of Greater Gandhara and beyond in the first millennium of the Common Era. These results will be made permanently available through the development of a digital archive allowing for the study of their textual, palaeographical, and codicological features, and the direct comparison of the content of these texts with parallels in multiple languages.