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The Decipherment of the Caucasian Albanian Script and Classification of the language on the Basis of New Manuscript Finds on Mt. Sinai
A lecture by professor Zaza Aleksidze, Senior Scientific Researcher and Chair of the Department of Codicology at the National Center of Manuscripts and Director of the Armenian Studies Program at the I. Javakishvili University, Tbilisi.
Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM 10367 Bunche Hall UCLA Los Angeles, CA United States
From the mid-1990s Aleksidze has spearheaded a new initiative analyzing and publishing the cache of Georgian, Armenian, and Caucasian Albanian texts that emerged from a long forgotten storehouse on Sinai in the late 1970s. Investigation of these new sources has revolutionized the traditional account of Georgia’s relations with its neighbors in the Caucasus, Byzantium, and the Iranian world from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages.
His groundbreaking work has also facilitated the decipherment and classification of the alphabet and linguistic structure of Caucasian Albanian, the ancient language of what is now Azerbaijan. Until the 1980s all the material evidence for Caucasian Albanian was a copy of the alphabet in an Armenian manuscript at the Mashtots Maternadaran in Erevan and a small number of short lapidary inscriptions. The discovery of two palimpsest manuscripts at Mt. Sinai transformed the field with the discovery of two sizeable under texts in the language, employing an alphabet of 59 characters, partly modeled on the Armenian, Georgian alphabets and Ethiopic syllabary, which Alexidze assisted in identifying and publishing. It emerges that the language is the ancestor of the modern form known as Uti, still spoken in 4 villages in Azerbaijan, and belongs to the Kartvelian or Caucasian family of languages with their characteristic developed consonantal clusters and other features.
Currently, he is the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA.
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