Graduate Papers

The Flesh and Bones of Ancient Iran

Vanessa Voss

“Tat vîspem frînâmahi tat vîspem fraêshyâmahi tat vîspem nemah’yâmahi avi imãm tanûm ýãm mashyânãm”

“All this do we achieve; all this do we order; all these prayers do we utter, for the benefit of the bodies of mortals.” — Vendidad, 20.5


The human body is a curious item: it is that which is most intimate as well as a foreign and confounding thing. We inhabit the body, as it is a vehicle for our being; we are the body. We are unable to exist outside of it. But we are not our body alone. While every corporeal organism that comes into existence is itself a new vehicle, there is a variety of historical concepts of the body preceding it: the concepts of an ideal Form, as a place of social construction and control, as a place between one’s soul and nature.