Ancient Armenian books tell a story not written in their pages
YEREVAN, April 22 (AFP) - 4h34 - Over a meter (yard) wide when opened and weighing 32 kilograms (15 pounds), the Homilies of Mush is the largest ancient Armenian book to be rescued from eastern Anatolia during anti-Armenian massacres in Ottoman Turkey almost a century ago.
Archivists say the story of how the manuscript and many others like it were saved could be more telling of the plight of the Armenian people then what the intricate Armenian lettering describes within the pages.
Some 9,000 rare manuscripts are estimated to have been destroyed as Armenians were driven from their homeland in World War I, but about 30 books currently on display in Armenia�s Archive of Ancient Manuscripts are believed to have been rescued by fleeing peasants.
A slow trickle of antique texts continues to fill the archive�s shelves to this day as more Armenian works pillaged in Anatolia are discovered by collectors around the world and donated to the repository.
Earlier this week a Diaspora Armenian from Paris was able to convince the sister of a collector who recently passed away to donate a page from a lost tenth century bible to the archive.
"Hopefully when she sees that it is good hands she will be willing to donate more works from the collection," said Claude Mutafrian, a 62-year-old historian on medieval Armenia who carried the sheepskin sheet to Yerevan from Paris.
Ancient Armenian manuscripts are another important source for both Old Testament pseudepigrapha and New Testament apocrypha as well as for the works of Philo of Alexandria, including some Philonic works that are otherwise lost. The loss-to-recovery ratio of thess manuscripts is discouraging, but this tenth-century Bible page is intriguing, both because of its content and its date. Too bad the article doesn't say what else is in the collection (or even what the contents of the Homilies of Mush are).