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The Worlds of Mandaean Priests

Documenting an Endangered Religion

Mandaeans, sometimes called Sabians, practise an ancient and endangered religion. Conflict in the Middle East has forced them out of their homelands in Iraq and Iran in ever greater numbers. Although Mandaeans depend on their priests for preserving religious knowledge and performing complex rituals, fewer than 50 priests now remain worldwide. We have interviewed priests, recorded the key rituals and shot documentary films in the largest communities of Australia and Sweden.

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Our project is a collaboration between the universities of Exeter and Leiden, with the generous support of the Arcadia Fund.  The data collected can be seen on an open-access digital archive at:

For more information, please contact Melanie Williams at


2017SSIS059_The_Worlds_of_Mandaean_Priests__A5_st2.pdfThe Worlds of Mandaean Priests (700K)


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