Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mandaeans and the internet

This post is going to be divided into sections based on what category I feel each site falls into. Remember this is my opinion and you may find that certain sites would fit better in a different category as that is the nature of opinions so please give any constructive criticism that you can and I will take it under consideration.

My initial research began by doing a comparison of three search engines and the top thirty results that they provided. My choices in search engines are Google, Yahoo, and LiveSearch. I chose these as they are listed as the top three search engines based on market share. ( This comparison revealed that amongst the three major sites that the first three pages of each included relatively all the same sites making any of the three worth using. This is the culmination of that comparison and searching. The criteria of my search was the single word 'Mandaean' which provided 62,300 results (Google), 259,000 results (Yahoo), and 25,900 results (Live). The sheer amount provided by Yahoo made it appear to include the largest amount of irrelevant searches. I decided to categorize the sites I found most useful or intriguing into one of three areas News, Data Site, and For Mandaeans. Afterward, I chose to review a couple of the sites and will continue to review sites in the future. Those reviews will appear in a separate blog post.

News: - A news article based on the persecution of Mandaeans undergoing forced conversions in Iraq. (Google) - While not a direct news source the author of this blog is more concerned with the modern happenings of Mandaeans than studying their development. Quite interesting to read though. (Google) - The first Iranian website about mandaeans and mainly contains articles about the current situation of the Mandaeans. (Yahoo, Live)

Mandaean Human Rights Group Annual Report - This is the annual report on atrocities against Mandaeans, it includes a brief history about known migrations and attacks on Mandaeans. (Yahoo, Live)

Data Site: - Naturally the number 1 result from all three engines while fundamentally correct it lacks depth but most encyclopedic articles do. (Google, Yahoo, Live) - Certainly a useful collection of online Mandaean scriptures as well as a resource for other gnostic literature for those that are interested. (Google, Yahoo, Live) - A site that any scholar of Mandaeans should be grateful for, includes scanned copies of Mandaean scripture with copies of scrolls included when possible. A PDF reader is required to view these scans. (Google, Yahoo, Live) - A site full of information but difficult to navigate as several links are dead and others have errors relating to geocities maintenance and bandwidth issues. Not recommended to attempt serious research with. (Google, Yahoo, Live) - A short lived but interesting blog about Mandaeans and a group trying to do their part in preserving the Mandaean culture. (Google, Yahoo) - A site that I would recommend to be read in conjunction with wikipedia to obtain a better overview of Mandaeanism as a whole but again not great for those who are familiar with the subject. (Google) - Not a site covering just Mandaeans but few are it has a well put together bibliography and an interesting essay arguing against their being traces of Mandaean customs being found on the Shroud of Turin. (Google, Yahoo)

Mandaean Polemic against Jews and Christians as Evidence about the Origins and Setting of Early Mandaism - Professor McGrath's conference paper from this year, that has only been posted for a little while now and already sits at number 30 on Google search. (Google) - An intriguing site with some interesting facts in the section that I could read. Those familiar with Arabic may find this more useful than I did. (Yahoo)

Encyclopedia Iranica - A site with several well put together articles relating to Mandaeans, this site achieves greater depth in the discussion of Mandaeans than many others I found. (Yahoo) - A virtual copy of the wikipedia article, I include this only because I believe I should warn that it is reviewed by fewer people and may have a few misleading facts in it that have been, to my knowledge, corrected on wikipedia. (Yahoo) - A site with a simplistic lay-out a fair amount of information but again lacks depth, being unable to argue the varying viewpoints on the development of Mandaeanism. (Yahoo, Live)

For Mandaeans: - The site for the Mandaean Associations Union which is an umbrella group working to put any Mandaean groups willing to abide by the MAU by laws under this umbrella. It works to connect Mandaean communities with each other and to provide a united international presence for the Mandaeans. (Google, Yahoo, Live) - A Mandaean date calculator; probably better classified as something for non-Mandaeans. I did not feel that it belonged under data sites but was interesting enough to warrant inclusion. (Google)

http://www. A site designed to create a sense of unity for Mandaean youth in Australia while providing a connection to Mandaeans across the world.(Google, Yahoo, Live) - A site dedicate to Mandaeans and encouraging giving to help those in trouble. (Google, Yahoo) - A livejournal group for the Mandaean community. (Yahoo)

Amongst these pages I have a few favorites. I must say that Google is my preferred search engine for the most relevant variety but Yahoo did provide one of my favorite sites to look at. I found Live to be the least useful due to numerous amounts of repetition of the pages belonging to the same site and the occurrence of many free dictionary definitions of Mandaean. A small note I should mention is that these commonly occur in the top thirty but due to the nature of search engine algorithms and the frequency users visit various sites the lists can change minute to minute.

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