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Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams FBA

Philology Central and Inner Asia
Nicholas Sims-Williams profile picture

About this Fellow

Nicholas Sims-Williams studied Iranian languages, Sanskrit and Syriac at Cambridge, obtaining his PhD with a thesis on the Sogdian manuscript C2, a miscellany of Christian texts translated from Syriac. In 1976 he joined the staff of SOAS, University of London, where he became Research Professor of Iranian and Central Asian Studies in 2004 and Emeritus Professor in 2015. His research focuses on Bactrian, Sogdian and other Middle Iranian languages of Afghanistan and Central Asia, taking an equal interest in the languages themselves, with their Indo-European roots, and in their Central Asian setting, with its stimulating mixture of languages, cultures and religions. In addition to the British Academy, he is a Fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres (AIBL) and the Academia Europaea, and an Honorary Member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Oriental Society. He has received the Ghirshman Prize of the AIBL, the Hirayama prize for Silk Road Studies, a Book of the Year Prize of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Denis Sinor medal of the Royal Asiatic Society. He is Chairman of the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge, and the Corpus Inscriptionum Iranicarum.



Current post

  • Emeritus Professor of Iranian and Central Asian Studies, SOAS, University of London

Past Appointments

  • Research Professor of Iranian and Central Asian Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Soas, University Of London, 2008 - 2015
  • Lecturer in Iranian Languages, Reader in Iranian Studies, Professor of Iranian and Central Asian Studies, Soas, University Of London, 1976
  • Emeritus Professor of Iranian and Central Asian Studies, Soas, University Of London, 2015

British Academy Appointments

  • Member of Council, 2017 -


Iranian manuscripts in Syriac script in the Berlin Turfan collection 2012


Biblical and other Christian Sogdian texts from the Turfan collection 2014


A Dictionary: Christian Sogdian, Syriac and English 2016


The Christian Sogdian manuscript C2 1985


Turco-Sogdian Documents from 9th-10th century Dunhuang 2015


Bactrian documents from Northern Afghanistan (vol 1-3) 2001-2012


Other Africa, Asia and the Middle East Fellows

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The literary and religious heritage of Turkic peoples in Central Asia between the 8th and 14th centuries; edition of Old Uyghur texts of various contents; studies on literature and religion based on these materials

Professor Clare Harris

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Professor Irina Nikolaeva

General linguistics; linguistic diversity and linguistic typology; language change; Uralic, Altaic and Palaeosiberian languages and linguistics; documentation and description of endangered languages