Monday, September 01, 2014

Saving Syriac inscriptions

SYRIAC WATCH: While ISIS destroys, Hamilton man battles to preserve historic texts. Team conserving photos of ancient inscriptions, buildings that now no longer exist (Kelly Bennett, CBC News).
A group of librarians led by a Hamilton man is racing against time to preserve inscriptions of centuries-old artifacts and documents currently threatened by ISIS’s destruction across much of Iraq and Syria.


Some of the photographs and rubbings in the collections the centre is processing could be the last remaining evidence of some of the inscriptions and, in some cases, the buildings that housed them. Some of the inscriptions date back to the 7th century.

[Colin] Clarke, [founder and director of the Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents at the University of Toronto,] works with a team of library scientists, language experts and academics, all of who volunteer for the centre's work. The centre started four years ago to catalogue and conserve the largest collection of Ancient Greek inscriptions in Canada.

Last year, the centre began working on a collection of Syriac documents. Syriac is an international language that was once used throughout much of the eastern world, being transported along the Silk Road. The dialect is related to Aramaic, the language Jesus reportedly spoke.

Many inscriptions convey Christian thoughts and poems. One key collection of Syriac documents comes from a University of Toronto professor and Mosul native Amir Harrak, an expert in Iraqi Syriac inscriptions.

Background on the situation in Iraq is here and links. By the way, Syriac is not "related to" Aramaic, it is a dialect of Aramaic.