Tuesday, January 13, 2004

MORE ON THE JEWISH MANUSCRIPTS discovered in Iraq last May: The Iraqi Jewish Archive Preservation Report is now available on the website of the Middle East Librarians Association Committee on Iraqi Libraries (on the Oriental Institute's Lost Treasures from Iraq website - heads up, Chuck Jones on the IraqCrisis list).

The report opens:

Rare, historic and modern books, documents and parchment scrolls pertaining to the Iraqi Jewish community were found in the flooded basement of the Iraqi Intelligence (Mukhabahrat) headquarters in Baghdad in early May 2003. Upon removal from the basement, the wet materials (known as the Iraqi Jewish Archive) were packed into sacks and transported to a nearby location where they were partially dried. Dr. Harold Rhode, expert in Middle Eastern and Islamic Affairs, Department of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense, provided a general review and initial sorting of the contents during the retrieval process, after which the materials were placed in 27 metal trunks. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) arranged for the materials to be frozen, which served to stabilize the condition and eliminate further mold growth.

At the request of the Coalition Provisional Authority, conservators from the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) traveled to Baghdad June 20-23 to assess the condition of the materials and develop recommendations for their preservation. The following report outlines the preservation action plan and funding requirements for preserving this important collection.

Description of the Iraqi Jewish Archive

The Iraqi Jewish Archive contains 16th-20th century Jewish rare books, correspondence and document files, pamphlets, modern books, audio tape and parchment scrolls. Languages represented in the Archive include Hebrew, Judeo-Arabic, Arabic and English (a few items).

The following descriptive information, provided by Hebraic and Arabic area study specialists at the Library of Congress, was gleaned from the photographs taken of the frozen materials in the open trunks. Once the materials are dried and have had the mold remediated it will be possible to provide a clearer and more detailed assessment of the contents.

? Hebraic materials. The Hebraica includes an eclectic mix of materials, ranging from holiday and daily prayer books, Bibles and commentaries, sections from a damaged Torah scroll, books on Jewish law, as well as children's Hebrew language and Bible primers. The printed books were published in a variety of places, including Baghdad, Warsaw, Livorno, and Venice, and most are from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Rare works include:

? the 'Ketubim' volume of the monumental Third Rabbinic Bible that was published in Venice by Giovanni di Gara in 1568; and

? what appears to be Abraham Brudo's 'Birkat Avraham,' which was published in Venice in 1696.


There's more on the contents and much more on the steps being taken to conserve the manuscripts. There are also some color photographs.

No comments:

Post a Comment