Monday, July 20, 2015

The Harrak Collection

SYRIAC WATCH: Destroyed Iraqi Holy Sites Find New Life Online (Owen Jarus, LiveScience).
[Professor Amir] Harrak told Live Science that, in the years before the 2003 American invasion, the country was suffering from economic embargoes; but the security situation was stable and he could move freely. "I traveled north, south, east and west without any hindrance," when carrying documentation from the university and permission from Iraqi officials, he said.

He worked to photograph as many inscriptions as he could. Some of the inscriptions were already in poor shape and he had to clean them carefully before photographing them. "There [is] dust in my body from those inscriptions to make them really clear [so that] I could photograph," Harrak said.

The inscriptions were written in a variety of languages. Many of them were in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic that was commonly used by Christians in Iraq from ancient to modern times. (Harrak is an expert in this dialect.) There are also many inscriptions in Garshuni, a script that records the Arabic language in Syriac letters.

"The Harrak Collection (of photographs) is the largest corpus of Iraqi-Syriac and Garshuni inscriptions in the world," [ Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED) Colin] Clarke said.
I noted this project last September here. The current article gives additional information and has some good photos. And a related LiveScience article by Owen Jarus, with additional photos, is here. For more on Garshuni, see here and links.