AIIT Update




Bailey Memorial Lectures:

Symposium 2003:

Charles Wallace India Visiting Fellowship

The Ancient India & Iran Trust Photographic Archive

Bactrian Project

Photographic Manuscript Archive (Bailey and Emmerick Collections)

Library news

1) NADFAS Help with Cleaning Books in the Van Lohuizen Library

2) Visit of Raimy Che-Ross

3) New Call Number System

4) Sale of Duplicate Books

Brooklands House News

1) New Flats at Rear of House

2) Disabled Access:
Need for Wheelchair Lift

New Publications

1) New Book by Prof. Sims-Williams:

2) Facsimile Edition of Zoroastrian Manuscript from Navsari


Aspects of a Kafir Village (click to enlarge)
Pictures courtesy of Dr Max Klimburg

Looking down on a village

Village street with houses

Village workshop

Kafir woodcarving

Kafir woodcarving

Pictures taken by Dr Max Klimburg during a break between lectures at the Symposium (click to enlarge)








Bactrian Documents (click to enlarge)
Pictures courtesy of Dr N. D. Khalili and Dr Johnny Cheung

A document from 507 AD, in Bactrian cursive script, with clay seals

A sample of Bactrian script with its Greek transliteration and English translation

In the Library: research work and book care (click to enlarge)

Studying a Tibetan manuscript

A scholar from Tibet

Helen sticking labels on books

New Flats at Brooklands House
(click to enlarge)

Main Room of one of the flats


View from the window towards the botanical garden

New Book, edited by Nicholas Sims-Williams (click to enlarge)


Zoroastrian Life (click to enlarge)
Pictures shown with the kind permission of Dasturji Dr F. M. Kotwal and the Times of India

Dasturji Kotwal officiating at a Parsi ritual

Reciting Avesta (picture taken from "Zoroastrian Tapestry")

JWelcome to our first Internet

We apologise for the delay in producing Newsletter no. 7, which is due to the improvements being carried out at Brooklands House (see below) during the winter, which necessitated moving our offices within the house.

Our previous newsletters, nos. 1-6, had been printed and posted to our friends and readers. We have now decided that the time has come to put our newsletter on the Internet. We will also make a number of printouts which will be posted to friends who do not use the Internet. These may be obtained free of charge by application to the Librarian or Secretary of the Trust.


A very special event was sponsored by the Trust on 16 December 2002, 103rd anniversary of the birth of Sir Harold Bailey, when Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams gave the first of series of three Sir Harold Bailey Memorial Lectures on "Life and Language in Ancient Afghanistan" at the Mller Centre, Churchill College. This first lecture, subtitled "New evidence from the Bactrian Documents", was chaired by Sir John Boyd, Master of Churchill. A capacity audience of nearly 100 attended the lecture and the reception afterwards, at which the book "Indo-Iranian Languages and Peoples was launched [see below]. On the next day Prof. Sims-Williams concluded the series with two further lectures entitled "Letters, Literature and Religion" and "Peoples, Languages and History", which attracted an audience of about 50 (even without the inducement of a reception!)

Bactrian, the ancient language of northern Afghanistan, was virtually unknown before the recent discovery of some 150 documents written on leather, cloth and wood in a local cursive script derived from Greek. In these lectures, which were illustrated with slides and overheads, Prof. Sims-Williams described the decipherment of these documents, in which Sir Harold Bailey had taken a keen interest during the last years of his life, and showed how they shed light on many aspects of the history and culture of Afghanistan during the 4th-8th centuries A.D. This was a turbulent period in Afghan history, during which power changed hands many times and which ended with the Arab conquest and the coming of Islam. The Bactrian documents, many of which are dated, refer not only to the Arabs but also to previous rulers of the region such as the Sassanian Persians, Hephthalites and Turks. They attest unusual customs such as polyandry as well as a variety of religions including Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Islam, and there are points of contact with the Iranian legends of the Shahnama as well as with the accounts of Chinese and Arab historians.


Brooklands House, the home of the Trust and the venue for the Symposium (click to enlarge)

This year's Symposium was held at Brooklands House from May 27th to May 29th, and was organised by one of our Trustees, Sir Nicholas Barrington together with the Secretary, Dr Bridget Allchin. It was attended by about 50 scholars and invited guests. The lecturers included a number of distinguished academics, diplomats and others with wide personal experience of the region, some over the last three decades and more. The final talk on the situation in Afghanistan was given by Mr Sandy Gall, the well known broadcaster and television personality. The lectures were illustrated with rich and fascinating visual material.

The lecture programme was as follows:

(Wednesday May 28th)

  • 9.15 a.m. Introduction by Sir Nicholas Barrington

  • 9.30-10.30 a.m.  The Geology of the Hindu Kush and other Neighbouring Mountain Regions a presentation by Dr Michael Searle, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford

  • 10.30-11.30 a.m.  Expeditions to the Upper Regions of the Indus presentation by Mr Peter and Dr Azra Meadows, Lecturers in Biosedimentology, University of Glasgow

  • 12.00-1.00 p.m.  The Early Gandharan Grave Culture of Chitral  presentation by Dr Robin Coningham, Reader in Archaeology, University of Bradford

  • 3.00-4.00 p.m.  The Culture of the Parun Kafirs of Afghanistan   presentation by Dr Max Klimburg, Lecturer, Institute of Ethnology, University of Vienna. Click on the thumbnails in the column on the left to view some of Dr Klimburg's slides

  • 4.00-5.00 p.m.  Nuristan 40 Years Ago   presentation by Sir Nicholas Barrington, former Oriental Secretary in Kabul and High Commissioner in Pakistan

  • 6.00 p.m. Presentation of videos of music and dances from Nuristan and Chitral

(Thursday 29th May)

  • 9.30-10.30 a.m.  The Kalash  presentation by Dr Peter Parkes, Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of Kent, and pre-eminent expert on the Kalash people 

  • 10.30-11.30 a.m.  19th Century Castles in Chitral  presentation by Brigadier Bill Woodburn, lecturer on 19th century Chitral, and on Castles generally 

  • 12.00-1.00 p.m.  The Ismailis and Sunnis in Chitral  presentation by Dr Magnus Marsden, anthropologist at the Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge, and Fellow of Trinity College 

  • 3.00-3.30 p.m. Summary History of the Wakhi People  presentation by Abdul Iloliev, graduate student at Pembroke College, Cambridge

  • 3.30-4.00 p.m.  Dynastic Fosterage in the Hindu Kush presentation by Dr Peter Parkes

  • 4.00-5.00 p.m.  Languages of the Hindu Kush  presentation by Mr John Payne, Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, University of Manchester, and an expert on Pamir languages

  • 6.15 p.m.  The Current Situation in Afghanistan  a talk by Mr Sandy Gall, recently returned from Afghanistan

Lunches, tea, coffee and snacks were provided at Brooklands House, and guests from distant places were put up at Madingley Hall, where a dinner was held on the 28th May.

Fish pond in the garden of Brooklands House (click to enlarge)


Our last year's Visiting Fellow was Dr Nagaraj Sharma from the Oriental Research Institute, Mysore.

With the help of the Chairman he pursued his research on the Arthashastra, and on his other academic interest, Shivite Sculpture. He visited a number of museums with collections of Indian art in London and elsewhere in Britain; and also managed to see collections in Rome, Paris and Berlin.

Our next Visiting Fellow will be Dr Tewari, who is the Director of Archaeology for the State of Uttar Pradesh. We are happy to report that English Heritage will be arranging a programme for him and showing him some of their projects.


The Trust has a considerable archive which includes material on a wide range of subjects within its remit. These include:-

  • Art, ranging from Prehistoric cave art to the painting and sculpture of Medieval and Mughal India.

  • Temples, palaces and popular architecture of all periods.

  • Archaeological sites and monuments.

  • Landscapes of historical and archaeological interest.

  • Scenes of ethnography and traditional interest, animals, farming, etc.

The archive consists of collections donated by Trustees and other Friends of the Trust, and includes large numbers of transparencies, prints and negatives. The collections include those of the late Penelope Betjeman, which starts with large glass slides dating from her early youth in Delhi, where her father was Chief of Staff during the last years of British India. Some of these show buildings in New Delhi, designed by Lutyens, shortly after they were completed, and other subjects of historical interest. Throughout the collection many of the images are of high quality, although in some cases a few, sadly, are beginning to show signs of deterioration.

The state of the individual collections varies considerably regarding cataloguing and arrangement. The Harle and Wilson collections have been listed and labelled and the latter digitised. In the case of the former the transparencies are stored in a suspension filing system with individual plastic pockets, and prints and negatives etc. are also appropriately stored. The other collections are labelled and categorised in a variety of ways, but require considerable work in order to bring them to the level of full accessibility.

The collections as a whole form a valuable resource both from a scholarly point of view and from that of a more general interest in the regions covered. It is now the intention of the Trust to make every effort to raise the funding required to carry this project through. This will involve cataloguing all collections, improving labelling in some cases and bringing them to a state where images can be made available for use. Any ideas or advice on how this may be achieved in terms of personnel or financing of the project would be welcome.


The British Academy has awarded a grant of approx. 20,000 to Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams for an 8-month pilot project on the history of the Bactrian cursive script. Dr Johnny Cheung of Leiden University has been engaged as research assistant and will be based at the Trust from April to November 2003 in order to work on the project.

The long-term aim of this project is to create a palaeographical database of the Bactrian cursive script used in the recently discovered Bactrian documents. This script is ultimately derived from Greek, but it underwent unique developments in Afghanistan and many of the letters have lost almost all resemblance to their Greek prototypes. The core of the database will be a corpus of about 40 texts bearing dates ranging from 110 to 549 of the local era probably equivalent to 342-781 A.D. On the basis of these dated texts it should be possible to date significant developments in the script and thus to assign an approximate date to undated texts. The resulting chronology will have important implications for the history of the Bactrian language and for our understanding of the historical references in the texts; at the same time, linguistic and historical data will provide a means of cross-checking the validity of chronological deductions based on palaeographical criteria.


Mrs Sims-Williams examining some photographs in the Bailey Archive, in the Iran Room of Brooklands House (click to enlarge)

The Ancient India an Iran Trust has just been awarded a grant for 2820 to catalogue the photographic manuscript archive of the late Professor Sir Harold Bailey and Professor Ronald E. Emmerick, housed at the Ancient India and Iran Trust.             The photographic archive comprises approximately 2500 prints, some loose, and the rest in the form of albums. They formed the basis of Bailey and Emmerick's working collections which were used for their published research and editions of texts in the Iranian language Khotanese. The original manuscripts are from the British Library, St. Petersburg, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin and Munich.             The importance of these collections lies in the fact that material from so many different places has been brought together in one place. Moreover, since many of the photographs are about 50 yrs. old, they sometimes reflect the state of the manuscripts before repair, and contain information regarding provenance etc. which has regrettably since been lost. In the intervening period some of the original manuscripts have been mislaid in their institutions, and the photographs at the Trust may prove to be the only record of their existence.             The collections are being catalogued by Ursula Sims-Williams, Curator of the Iranian collections in the British Library, who is providing detailed descriptions of individual groups of items which can be accessed and searched directly from the AIIT hand list of Archives on the web. She is also creating a database, which can be searched by manuscript number, site mark or institution, which can be printed out for local use and will also be linked to the Web pages of the Ancient India and Iran Trust and the International Dunhuang Project, housed in the British Library.



We are happy to report that thanks to the help of Dr Dai Evans, the Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and Mrs Elspeth Foley, the East Anglian representative of NADFAS, a party of local NADFAS volunteers will be starting work at the end of June. They will be cleaning and refurbishing the books in the Van Lohuizen Library. This is particularly necessary following the creation of the flats on the floor above, which, in spite of every effort being made to protect them, the books have become very dusty, having been penetrated by the dust and dirt dislodged from the ceiling by the builders. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have the help of this group of experienced people who will be coming once a fortnight to work on this project. We are particularly grateful to Dr Dai Evans, who, in response to the Secretary's request, was kind enough to visit Brooklands House and advise us, and recommend us to NADFAS. He also invited the Chairman and Secretary to visit the Society of Antiquaries Library at Burlington House in London, where they were able to see a party of NADFAS volunteers at work and to learn how valuable their assistance could be.


Raimy Che-Ross at work in the India Room of Brooklands House (click to enlarge)

The Trust welcomed the visit of Raimy Che-Ross, a distinguished Malay scholar from Australia. This brings us the benefit of having our collection of Malay Mss included in the forthcoming comprehensive catalogue of Malay Mss in Britain and worldwide. The six Mss will be correctly described by him as to their contents and provenance, the latter having been researched on the basis of signatures he discovered in them. Raimy Che-Ross was introduced to the Ancient India & Iran Trust by Mr Craig Jamieson of the University Library, who accompanied him on his first visit here.

It is hoped that Mr Che-Ross will also produce an article about our Malay resources as a whole, which he discovered and studied during his visit. These included many rare books.


To make the Library more user friendly and to help maintain the right book order, all books will be given spine labels displaying their call number.

smiley  S A L E   O F   D U P L I C A T E   B O O K S  smiley

The Library is disposing of its duplicate books, the list of which can be viewed at here. All listed titles are available for sale.




In April this year the creation of two new flats at Brooklands House for the accommodation of visiting scholars and others was completed. This was done by converting the old offices over the Van Lohuizen Library, which involved taking careful precautions to protect the Library from any accidental leakage in the future, and undue dust and debris while the work was going on above. One flat is a bed-sitter and the other has a separate sitting room and bedroom. Each flat has a small kitchenette, shower and other facilities, is fully furnished, and is suitable for one or two people. Enquiries regarding lettings should be addressed to the Secretary, Dr Bridget Allchin, or the Treasurer, Prof. Sims-Williams, either by post (Brooklands House, 23 Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 2BG), or by email (       


The Trust is anxious to make it possible for scholars and others who are confined to wheelchairs to use our Library and attend lectures, etc. at Brooklands House. In order to have access to the main Indian and Iranian collections, to suitable workspace, and to lectures, symposia, parties, etc. it is necessary to get up seven or eight steps at either the front or the back of the house. After taking advice from a number of sources, it became clear that the best way to do this was by having a small platform lift installed. The Secretary took advice from experts at the Town Hall. Mr. R. T. Hilsden, Head of Building Control at the City Council, visited the Trust and examined the various possibilities and told us that the only real workable solution was to install a lift at the back of the house, which would give access to the ground floor of the main building. The project was sent out to tender. The sum needed will be 10,543. Of this the City Council have promised us a grant of 6,725, subject to our being able to raise the remainder. The Trust is therefore actively seeking a grant of c. 4,000. A number of sources have been investigated and/or approached, but our chances of raising the money are made difficult by the rather specialised nature of of our Library. Any advice on suitable sources we might approach would be most welcome. The Secretary will be happy to receive any suggestions from readers of the Newsletter.


INDO-IRANIAN LANGUAGES AND PEOPLES (Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 116), edited by Nicholas Sims-Williams. Oxford University Press, 2002. Hardbound, 304 pages, portrait frontispiece, 8 plates and many illustrations - 29.50.

During the last ten years or so, the materials available for the study of the older Indo-Iranian languages have increased dramatically, with sensational discoveries of birch-bark scrolls bearing Buddhist texts in the Gandhari language of north-west India and leather documents in Bactrian, the ancient language of northern Afghanistan. At the same time, evolving techniques for the compilation, manipulation and dissemination of electronic text corpora and digital images have made it possible to exploit previously known data in new ways, whilst archaeological finds in India, Pakistan and Central Asia, including the "Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex", have given rise to new hypotheses concerning the history and pre-history of the Indo-Iranian peoples.

In this volume, which pays tribute to the pioneer work of Sir Harold Bailey, eleven distinguished linguists and archaeologists survey these exciting new developments and assess their impact on our understanding of the history of the Indo-Iranian languages and their speakers. Their contributions, originally presented at Brooklands House in 1999 at a conference marking the centenary of Sir Harold Bailey's birth, are sandwiched between two papers on Bailey himself: the first Sir Harold Bailey Memorial Lecture, entitled "Hunting the Hapax: Sir Harold Walter Bailey (1899-1996)", given on that occasion by Prof. R. E. Emmerick, and an affectionate memoir of Sir Harold by his colleague Dr Ilya Gershevitch.


The facsimile edition of the Yasht and Khorde Avesta codex E1 is now ready to go to the printers. Dastur Dr F M Kotwal and Dr Almut Hintze have been working on this project since the summer of 2001, when Dastur Kotwal came to Cambridge to do research in the Trust's Bailey library. The volume will be published by Harrassowitz in Wiesbaden in the series Iranica, edited by Maria Macuch (Berlin).

The facsimile edition will include a detailed description of the contents of the manuscript and reproductions of the 544 folios. All the texts contained in this manuscript have been identified and their chapters and paragraphs noted on the margins of the facsimiles. This manuscript contains not only all the Yashts and a unique Sanskrit translation of the Middle Persian Bahman Yasht, but also many prayers and other texts recited by Zoroastrian priests and lay people. For instance, there are shorter and longer versions of a `grace before meals', prayers to be said before going to bed and after getting up, and various incantations. It is hoped that this edition will be of use and interest to both members of the community and to scholars.

Since the manuscript was in very poor physical state, it underwent a preliminary restoration funded by the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe (London) and carried out by Dr Nicholas Hadgraft (Cambridge) to prevent further decay. It is now in a stable condition, awaiting complete restoration as and when funds become available. This summer, the manuscript E1 will be returned back to its home, the Meherji Rana Library in Navsari, Gujarat (India).