Die frühbuddhistischen Handschriften aus Gandhāra

Religiöse Literatur an der Schnittstelle von Indien, Zentralasien und China

The research project “Die frühbuddhistischen Handschriften aus Gandhāra: religiöse Literatur an der Schnittstelle von Indien, Zentralasien und China” was established in 2012. On the basis of philological and historical methods, it provides new insight into the early history of Buddhism on its way to becoming a world religion. The project studies manuscripts found in the 1990s in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan – the ancient region of Gandhāra. They were composed in Gāndhārī, the Middle Indic local language, and date from between the 1st century BCE and the 3rd century CE. They thus constitute – apart from a small number of stone inscriptions – the oldest original sources for the history of Buddhism and for Indian writing culture. The manuscripts cast special light on the development of Buddhist scholasticism and Mahāyāna Buddhism. In the first centuries of our era, Gandhāra also served as a cultural bridge from India to Central Asia and China, and a famous school of Buddhist art flourished there. These, too, are processes whose understanding is enriched by the new sources. The project prepares text editions of Gāndhārī manuscripts that in turn form the basis for a dictionary and a grammar of Gāndhārī as well as for a history of literature and religion in Gandhāra.


Permanent cooperation partners
Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection
Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project
Professur für Buddhismusstudien Université Lausanne


  • Prof. Dr. Jens-Uwe Hartmann (Project Leader)
  • Dr. Stefan Baums (Office Site Leader)
  • Dr. Gudrun Melzer (Research Associate)
  • Dr. Andrea Schlosser (Research Associate)
  • Elisabeth Steinbrückner M.A. (Research Associate)
  • Stephen White M.Sc. (Technical Associate)
  • Gleb Sharygin (Doctoral Candidate)
  • Tao Pan M.A. (Research Assistant)
  • Britta Schneider M.A. (Research Assistant)
  • Evelyn Kindermann (Office Site)
Running time
Project type

Contact person for the academies' programme

Sebastian Zwies M.A.

Geschäftsstelle Mainz
Union der deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften
Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 2
55131 Mainz

Tel: 06131/218 528-17