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In the opening decade of the 20th century, the German Turfan Expedition found over a thousand fragments at the monastery site of Bulayïq on the outskirts of Turfan. Approximately 500 of the fragments were in the Syriac language, the remainder were in Sogdian, but written in Syriac-script. The Syriac manuscripts largely are liturgical or biblical, including many from the Psalter, whereas the Sogdian manuscripts cover a much wider range of genres, most notably hagiographies and ascetical literature. The paper discusses what this distribution of genres reveals about the Christian communities at Turfan, as well as commenting on the transmission of material from the ‘mother-church’ in Mesopotamia and Central Asia.
Dr. Erica C.D. Hunter is Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in Eastern Christianity, Dept. for the Study of Religions, SOAS. She is Co-chair, Centre of World Christianity, Dept. for the Study of Religions, SOAS, University of London. She was Principal Investigator (together with Prof. Nicholas Sims-Williams FBA) of the AHRC-funded project, ‘The transmission of Christian texts from Turfan’ (2012-2015). Between 2008-2011 she was Principal Investigator for the AHRC-funded project ‘The Christian Library from Turfan’ which catalogued the Syriac manuscripts from Turfan. The catalogue by Erica C D Hunter and Mark Dickens Syriac Texts from the Berlin Turfan Collection (Stuttgart, Steiner Verlag: 2014) has been published as part of the series: Verzeichnis der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland, Syrische Handschriften). Her research interests focus on Syriac Christianity in Mesopotamia and its outreach to Central Asia and China.