Sonderforschungsbereich 950

Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe

08/2015manuscript of the month

Serendipity in the Tigray Highlands
When a scholar kneels down to look underneath a church cupboard ...

Manuscript from ʿUra Mäsqäl
Church, UM–039, fol. 13v.

Only a small number of the 200,000-odd Christian Ethiopic parchment manuscripts which are estimated to be extant in Ethiopia, Eritrea and libraries and collections abroad predate the seventeenth century, and even fewer the sixteenth and fifteenth. Those written before the fourteenth century are extremely rare. Non-biblical manuscripts with such early dating are absolute exceptions. The discovery of two folios of a non-biblical pre-thirteenth-century manuscript in 2010 underneath a cupboard in the church of ʿUra Mäsqäl in northern Tigray, close to the Eritrean border, raised a crucial question: which volume did they once belong to? The answer is but one episode in the fascinating story of what has come to be known as the Aksumite Collection.


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Call for Papers for the 2nd international conference on 'Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis'

The 2nd international conference 'Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis' will be held at CMSC from 29 February to 2 March 2016. Deadline for abstract submission is 12 December 2015.
Call for Papers and registration

New Ph.D. scholarships

The Graduate School 'Manuscript Cultures' of CSMC invites applications for 3 Ph.D. scholarships scholarships (2+1 year) starting April 1st 2016.
The application deadline is 15 January 2015.
Application details and further information

Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Hamburg funds long-term project on Ethiopian Manuscripts

CSMC congratulates Prof. Dr. Alessandro Bausi, Principal Investigator in sub-project C05, for being granted funding for the long-term research project 'Die Schriftkultur des christlichen Äthiopiens: Eine multimediale Forschungsumgebung''A Multimedial Research Environment for The Written Culture of Christian Ethiopia'. The objective of the project is to create a multi-purpose virtual research environment in which original texts, transcriptions and translations from different time periods and geographic locations can be compared. The environment will be based on a relational database containing meta data on carriers of text, authors and places of origin among others. The project will be funded for 25 years.

New Petra Kappert Fellows in October 2015

Prof. Dr. Nikolay Dobronravin from the School of International Relations, St. Petersburg State University is a specialist in writing traditions in sub-Saharan Africa and early West African Islam. His research interests also cover Islam in diaspora in the Caribbean and West African manuscript collections in Europe. Professor Dobrionravin will stay at CSMC until the end of 2015.

Dr. Florinda De Simini is a postdoctoral researcher and adjunct professor for History of Ancient and Medieval India at the University L'Orientale, Naples. Her main areas of expertise are the study of medieval literature in Sanskrit, as well as the religious and ritual aspects characterizing the manuscript cultures of India. She is currently conducting research on rituals focusing on manuscripts in the Hindu traditions, and on the transmission and diffusion of the 'Śivadharma corpus'. Dr. De Simini will stay at CSMC until March 2016.

UNESCO inscribes Assyrian Cuneiform tablets on the Memory of the World Register

In October 2015 UNESCO added the Assyrian Cuneiform Archives of the ancient city of Kaneš, the present day Kültepe (Turkey), to the Memory of the World International Register. At CSMC the tablets are subject to research in sub-project C11 'Private Archives as a Source of Literacy in Old Assyrian Society'. The inscription into the UNESCO register emphasises the historical and cultural significance of the tablets and it is a major step towards their preservation and research.

Databases now online

CSMC is now taking care of two important manuscript databases in conjunction with the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Hamburg:

The database of the Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project (NGMCP), which is one of the largest of its kind, containing entries on more than 100,000 manuscripts registered between 1972 and 2014 by NGMCP and its predecessor, the Nepal–German Manuscript Preservation Project (NGMPP). Both long-term projects were funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The Index of Armenian Art: Database of Manuscript Illuminations (IAA), which is currently the most important database of illuminated Armenian manuscripts that exists. It was compiled and maintained by Professor Dickran Kouymjian and his staff and was originally located at California State University in Fresno. CSMC is to modernize and expand the database in conjunction with Professor Kouymjian.

Both databases are now available for use by the general public.


3 December 2015 6pm | Lecture
Dr Chiara Barbati
Institute for Iranian Studies, Vienna
The Christian Sogdian Manuscript Tradition in Context
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

9 December 2015, 4 pm | Informal Talk
Prof Dr Samantha Kelly, Rutgers University
The Library of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, Rome: History, Culture, and Intercultural Contact of an Ethiopian Monastic Community in Sixteenth-Century Europe
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

10 December 2015 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Martina Hartmann
Director of the Institute Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Munich
An Author Vanishes: Frutolf of Michelsberg and the Bamberg Chronicles of World History
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

14 January 2016 6pm | Lecture
Dr Paola Molino
Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

21 January 2016 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Paul Atkins
University of Washington
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

28 January 2016 6pm | Lecture
Prof Dr Clarissa Vierke
University of Bayreuth
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

29 February - 2 March 2016 | Conference
Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis
The 2nd international conference 'Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis' will be held at CMSC from 29 February to 2 March 2016.
Participation is free, please register online.
Information and registration

CSMC, Warburgstraße 26