A team of researchers led by Professor Jens-Uwe Hartmann of the University of Munich and Professor Harry Falk of the Free University of Berlin is analyzing some 2,000-year-old ancient Buddhist documents that have come to light recently and have already shown amazing results.
The ancient Buddhist texts they have been preserved in long rolls of birch bark and are written in Gandhari, a now extinct regional Indian language. The scrolls originated in the region known in ancient times as Gandhara, located in what is now northwestern Pakistan.
For researchers interested in early history of Buddhism These manuscripts represent a sensational find due to their antiquity: some of the documents date from the 1st century BC, so they are the Oldest examples of Indica Buddhist literature.
However, for the rest of the experts its content is equally fascinating. The texts provide insight into a literary tradition believed to be lost, and helps researchers reconstruct crucial phases in the development of Buddhism in India. On the other hand, the manuscripts confirm the essential role of the Gandhara region in the spread of Buddhism in Central Asia and China.
The magnitude of the task of the University of Munich team is reflected in the planned duration of the project: 21 years. The Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities project is being funded by a grant of 8.6 million euros from the Academies Program, coordinated by the Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities. It is one of the largest research programs in the field of Humanities in the Federal Republic.
For your research, the experts will not work with the original manuscriptsInstead, they will use digital scanners, as the originals are extremely fragile and found in collections around the world. A large part of the surviving material is in the British Library in London.
The ultimate goal of the project is prepare an updated edition of all Gandhari manuscripts. In addition, the researchers plan to produce a Gandhari-language dictionary and study its grammar. However, the focus of the project is in trying to shed light on the development of Gandhari literature and the history of Buddhism in Gandhara.
Almost graduated in Advertising and Public Relations. I started to like history in 2nd year of high school thanks to a very good teacher who made us see that we have to know our past to know where the future takes us. Since then I have not had the opportunity to investigate more in all that our history offers us, but now I can take up that concern and share it with you.