Nicholas Sims-Williams, Before the Quarrel: A Bactrian Purchase Contract

John Rylands Persian 41, f. 58r (Guise 126), an illustration from the Persian Arda Viraf namah representing "the soul of a woman who was disobedient to her husband."



This article contains the first complete edition and translation of a Bactrian land purchase contract written in Guzgan, probably in January 659 C.E. The contract in question is a “double document” consisting of two copies written on the same parchment, one sealed and one unsealed, and its publication has been made possible by the opening of the sealed copy. The commentary concentrates on the differences between the two copies, some of which are significant for its interpretation, and on the identity of the persons involved in the transaction and their mutual relationships. The present article thus forms a pendant to previous articles in BAI 15 (2005), where the unsealed copy was published for the first time as part of a group of “Bactrian Legal Documents from 7th- and 8th-Century Guzgan”, and in BAI 17 (2007), where a slightly later document concerning some of the same individuals was published under the title “A Bactrian Quarrel.”