P. Oktor Skjaervø

P. Oktor Skjaervø

Aga Khan Professor of Iranian, Emeritus
P. Oktor Skjaervø

BA, University of Oslo
MA, University of Copenhagen
PhD, University of Oslo
Dr. habil, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz

A Norwegian with an early interest for languages, I learned several of them before studying French, Latin, Sanskrit, and comparative linguistics at the University of Oslo in the sixties. This in due course led me to Old Iranian studies, principally languages. After spending a year in Iran in the early seventies, I finished my studies and found myself jobless by 1979, the boost for Iranian studies in the West having evaporated together with Iranian royal ambitions. Having survived by the kind intercession of Professor H. Humbach as an assistant professor in Mainz, Germany, from 1980, teaching linguistics and Iranian studies and laying the foundation for a Scandinavian language program, I moved to the Big Apple in 1985. There I labored as an editor for the Encyclopaedia Iranica while biding my time and waiting for the retirement of Richard Frye at Harvard, whom I wished to succeed and finally did succeed in 1991.

My current approach to Old Iranian studies by far exceeds my original interests: I teach to whoever may be interested the Old (pre-Islamic) Iranian languages, religions (Zoroastrianism and Manicheism), and history.

My work over recent years has been centered on Avestan literature and the foundations of Zoroastrianism, as well as the application of Oral Literary Theory and comparative mythology to ancient Iranian literature and religion. I have also worked on developing teaching material for the old Iranian languages (Old Persian, Avestan, Pahlavi, Sogdian) and religions (Zoroastrianism and Manicheism).

Contact Information

Harvard University
The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Cambridge, MA 02138

office hours: contact Department Office
p: 617-496-5756

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