June 11 is the birthday of Olga Mikhailovna Chunakova, Doctor of Sciences in Philology, Candidate of Sciences in History, Leading Researcher of the Serindica Laboratory at the IOM RAS.
Since childhood, O.M. Chunakova had close connections with Turkestan and Central Asia. Born in Aktyubinsk (Kazakh SSR), she finished high school in the city of Ashkhabad, and after studying for two years in the Turkmen State University, transferred to the Faculty of Oriental Studies (Department of Iranian Philology) at the Leningrad State University. In 1971 she worked as interpreter for Soviet doctors at a hospital in Kabul.
In 1974 she graduated from the Leningrad State University and was admitted to the postgraduate program at the Institute of Oriental Studies (Leningrad branch). Her supervisor was A.G. Perihanian, leading expert on pre-Islamic Iranian texts, who translated the complex Sasanid legal manual. Since then O.M. Chunakova has been working at the Institute. In 1978 she became a junior researcher, in 1982 she successfully defended her thesis on the “Book of the Deeds of Ardeshir, Son of Papak”. Her study was published three years later in the series “Written monuments of the Orient”. O.M. Chunakova’s main research focused on Middle Persian texts, such as didactic prose works, Zoroastrian theological treatises, and the Pahlavi “Divine Comedy”. In 1998, she defended her doctoral thesis “The Pahlavi Zoroastrian literature (typological analysis)” at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Saint Petersburg State University.
In the last twenty years, O.M. Chunakova shifted her research focus from literature studies to linguistics. She has published readers of Old Persian and Avestan languages in 2008 and a grammatical survey of Middle Persian Manichaean language in 2014.
O.M. Chunakova also works with manuscript collections of IOM RAS describing and studying pre-Islamic and non-Islamic texts (mostly fragments) in Iranian languages. She is a widely acknowledged specialist in Old and Middle Persian philology. Her “Manichaean manuscripts from Eastern Turkestan” (2011) and “Manuscripts from Eastern Turkestan. Middle Persian, Parthian, and Sogdian fragments kept at the IOM RAS” (2019) are outstanding works in the fields of Iranian philology and codicology.
O.M. Chunakova became a senior researcher in 1991 and a leading researcher of the Near East Department in 1998. She has recently joined the Serindica Laboratory. For many years she has been elected a member of the Academic council.
Since 2000, Professor O.M. Chunakova teaches Old Persian and Middle Persian, and the course “Theoretical and historical grammar of the Persian language” at the Department of Iranian philology, Saint Petersburg State University.
Let me express my sincere gratitude to Olga M. Chunakova for her outstanding contribution to classical St Petersburg Oriental studies and fundamental research on Iranian philology.
Irina F. Popova, Director of the IOM RAS
Corresponding Member of the RAS, Doctor of Sciences in History