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Between the EmpiresSociety in India 300 BCE to 400 CE$
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Patrick Olivelle

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305326

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305326.001.0001

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Recent Discoveries of Early Buddhist Manuscripts: And Their Implications for the History of Buddhist Texts and Canons

Recent Discoveries of Early Buddhist Manuscripts: And Their Implications for the History of Buddhist Texts and Canons

Chapter:
(p.348) (p.349) 14 Recent Discoveries of Early Buddhist Manuscripts: And Their Implications for the History of Buddhist Texts and Canons
Source:
Between the Empires
Author(s):

Richard Salomon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305326.003.0014

This chapter examines recent discoveries of early Buddhist manuscripts and discusses their implications for the history of Buddhist texts and canons. All of the manuscripts in question were written in the one or another of the varieties of the Gāndhārī language, that is, the Middle Indo-Aryan vernacular of the northwestern portion of the Indian subcontinent, and in the Kharosthī script, an Indian adaptation of Achaemenian Aramaic which, unlike all other Indic scripts, was written from right to left. Although the circumstances and location of their discoveries are not well documented, it is fairly certain that most of them come from Buddhist sites in eastern Afghanistan. Until recent discoveries were made, only one manuscript in Gāndhārī had been available to scholars, the birch-bark scroll containing a Gāndhārī version of the Dharmapada. For many years, it had been uncertain whether this manuscript was a unique or rare anomaly, or whether it was rather the sole survivor of a larger literature.

Keywords:   Buddhist manuscripts, Buddhist texts, canons, Gāndhārī language, Achaemenian Aramaic, Kharosthī script, Afghanistan, Dharmapada

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