Frantz Grenet, Mary Boyce's Legacy for the Archaeologists

Sivaz ossuary (ca. 7th c.), synthetic drawing. F. Grenet document.
Sivaz ossuary (ca. 7th c.), synthetic drawing. F. Grenet document.



Mary Boyce never practiced field archaeology. Nevertheless, more than any specialist of Zoroastianism who preceded her and many who followed, she was aware of the importance of archaeological documentation, especially for periods and regions where the dearth of textual sources is extreme. She was also careful about quelling over-hasty enthusiasm for Zoroastrian ritual interpretation of material remains. Many of her contributions drew the attention of archaeologists and prompted them to question their preconceptions.
     This article examines several of these contributions, the influence they exerted on the archaeologists’ approach, and also the additions and corrections which are now requested by the subsequent accumulation of material.
1) The article "On the Zoroastrian Temple Cult of Fire" (1975), which, among other consequences, put an end to the long-lasting theory of the fire altars burning in particularly conspicuous places;
2) The article "Iconoclasm among the Zoroastrians" (same year), still valid for Iran itself but now to be revised as far as Central Asia is concerned;
3) The ethnographic observations made during her field experience in the Zoroastrian villages near Yazd (1963–1964), which are often relevant to the interpretation of details of past funerary customs and structures, as well as pilgrimages.
     Illustrations of relevant archaeological and iconographic documents are included in the article.