The Multimedia Yasna (MUYA) examines the performance and written transmission of the core ritual of the Zoroastrian tradition, the Yasna, whose oldest parts date from the second millennium BCE. Composed in an ancient Iranian language, Avestan, the texts were transmitted orally and not written down until the fifth or sixth century CE. The oral tradition continues to be central to the religion, and the daily Yasna ceremony, the most important of all the rituals, is recited from memory by Zoroastrian priests. The interpretation of the Yasna has long been hampered by out-dated editions and translations of the text and until now there has been no documentation and study of the performance of the full ritual. The project MUYA examines both the oral and written traditions. It has filmed a performance of the Yasna ritual and created a critical edition of the recitation text examining the Yasna both as a performance and as a text attested in manuscripts. The two approaches have been integrated to answer questions about the meaning and function of the Yasna in a historical perspective.
Combining models and methodologies from digital humanities, philology and linguistics, the project has produced a subtitled, interactive film of the Yasna ritual, an online platform of transcribed manuscripts, editorial tools, digital transcriptions of manuscripts and digital editions with a text-critical apparatus, and with print editions, translations and commentaries of the Yasna. Information which was formerly restricted to students of Iranian philology and practising Zoroastrians has now become accessible to a world-wide audience through digital humanities. The project, based at SOAS, University of London and funded by the European Research Council, ran from October 2016 to September 2022. It was headed by Professor Almut Hintze and included an international team of researchers in the UK, Germany, India and Iran.