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The Balkh Art and Cultural Heritage Project 


Inside a post-Timurid shrine in Balkh. Photo by Arezou AzadInside a post-Timurid shrine in Balkh. Photo by Arezou AzadWe know that histories of Balkh were already written in the 9th and 10th centuries. However, the earliest surviving history was written in the late 12th century in Arabic and completed in 610/1214 (which also does not survive), while a Persian adaptation of this text finished in 676/1278 has survived. It is known as the Fada'il-i Balkh ("The Merits of Balkh"). The Arabic version is believed to be penned by a certain Shaykh al-Islam Abu Bakr 'Abdullāh b. 'Umar b. Muhammad b. Dawud al-Wa'iz al-Balkhi. The Persian translator is considered to be 'Abd Allah [b. Muhammad] b. al-Qasim al-Husayni.

Dr Ali Mir Ansari is currently revising the 1971 Tehran edition of the Persian work. He is using the four known manuscripts of the work: one at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, two at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg, Russia; and one from a private archive in Pakistan. He works closely with Arezou Azad and Edmund Herzig who are preparing an English translation with annotations.

Banner Image: Tepe Rustam of Balkh, thought to be the old Buddhist temple site of Naw Bahar. Photo by Arezou Azad