Tuesday, October 15, 2013

11. Middle Persian

Middle Persian scripts

  • Middle Persian (Pahlavi)
  • Parthian
  • Psalter

Middle Persian (Pahlavi)

The Middle Persian script developed from the Aramaic script and became the official script of the Sassanian empire (224-651 AD). It changed little during the time it was in use, but around the 5th century AD, it spawned a number of new scripts, including the Psalter and Avestan scripts.

Notable features

  • Written from right to left in horizontal lines.
  • Only some vowels are indicated and the letters used to represent them have multiple pronunciations.
  • The letters marked in red were used to write loan words from Aramaic.
Middle Persian (Pahlavi) script


The Parthian script developed from the Aramaic script around the 2nd century BC and was used during the Parthian and early Sassanian periods of the Persian empire. The latest known inscription dates from 292 AD.
Parthian script


The Psalter script is a variant of the Persian script which was used mainly for writing on paper. It is known from fragments of a manuscript of the Psalms of David found in north-western China.
Psalter script


Parthian and Middle Persian written literature
Pahlavi literature
Pahlavi dictionary
Free Pahlavi fonts
Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), University of London: http://www.cais-soas.com


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