Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saving — and conserving — Mosul's manuscripts

SYRIAC (ETC.) WATCH: This priest preserves Iraqi culture found in historic manuscripts (Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency).
Since 1750 many antique manuscripts had been kept in the library of the Dominican monastery in Mosul. They were moved from the monastery starting in 2007, amid the backdrop of increased violence against Christians and other minorities at the hands of extremist groups. The documents include more than 25 subjects, including theology, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, history, and geography, many of which date back to the 10th, 11th, and 12th century in Aramaic, which is the language of Jesus Christ.
Regular readers may remember the story of the rescue of thousands of manuscrips from Mosul by Father Najeeb Michaeel and his colleagues. PaleoJudaica followed it here and here. This article covers those events. It also tells more about the contents of the manuscripts, which are written in "Syriac, Arabic, Turkish, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian, and more." And it brings the story to the present. The rescuers and their coleagues have not been idle.
Rome hosted an exhibit and conference on just a small sample of the many photos and manuscripts June 10-17.

This exhibition was “just a small fragment of what we have in Iraq with respect to manuscripts and archives and materials and photos, because we have as well the largest deposit of photos in Iraq,” Najeeb explained.

The more than 10,000 photos “tell the story of the past: the face, the work and much more,” he continued. “Even the archaeology. And we have many archaeological documents in cuneiform as well, very ancient.”

Since 2009 the Dominicans in Iraq have also partnered with Benedictine monks, who also help with the supply of equipment and organizing internships.

Their internship program has about 10 young university students, Najeeb said, which provides “practical information for true professionals in the field of the restoration of manuscripts, for their protection and digitization, and also the process of storing them and protecting them with sophisticated technology to be able to officially protect them in a scientific way.”
Good news.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.