Sonderforschungsbereich 950

Manuscript Cultures in Asia, Africa and Europe

manuscript of the month

The Silk Qur’an

The word ‘manuscript’ usually makes people in Europe and the Middle East think of writing on parchment or paper. Writing texts on silk is rare here (or even unique). The Azerbaijani artist Tünzale Memmedzade did just that, however, and wrote the whole Qur’an – the holy scripture of Islam – on black silk. Two members of CSMC asked her a number of questions they had always wanted to ask a scribe of this kind. Here is their interview with the artist, Tünzale Memmedzade.


Manuscript Identification Service
Do you own a manuscript you would like to learn
more about? Visit us and ask our experts at the
Manuscript Identification Service.


Call for Applications: W2 Professorship

The Faculty of Humanities invites applications for a professorship (W2) for the History of Knowledge with a focus on Manuscript Research commencing as soon as possible.
The application deadline is 5 July 2018.
More information

Honorary doctorate for Professor Malachi Beit-Arié

The Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) celebrates the award of an honorary doctorate to Professor Malachi Beit-Arié by the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Hamburg.
The Israeli scholar has fundamentally influenced the codicology and palaeography of Hebrew manuscripts and made it his life's work to build up the SfarData database, in which thousands of Hebrew manuscripts from all over the world are catalogued in an informastion density that is otherwise non-existent. He received several fellowships from the CSMC and has been a CSMC member since 2017.
The certificate will be presented by Dean Professor Oliver Huck at CSMC on 1 June 2018, 1.30pm.

New Fellows

Prof. Dr. Malachi Beit-Arié is professor emeritus of codicology and paleography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His fields of expertise include medieval Hebrew codicology, palaeography and the medieval transmission of Hebrew texts. Professor Beit-Arié is also the founder and director of SfarData, a codicological database for medieval Hebrew manuscripts.
Dr. Nurit Pasternak is a researcher in the Hebrew Palaeography Project at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research areas include, among others, hebrew codicology, Judaism during the Italian renaissance and book censorship.
Prof. Dr. Scott Reese is a historian of Islam whose work focuses on the societies of East Africa and the Indian Ocean in a trans-regional context. His current research focuses on the development of Islamic-Arabic print in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Professor Reese will be in residence at CSMC until the end of June 2018.
Dr. Marco Heiles is a philologist and a specialist in medieval German manuscripts and early printing. His current research is focused on sexually explicit writing and censorship in medieval German manuscipts. Marco Heiles will stay at CSMC until the end of September.

Handwriting Analysis Tool published

The “Handwriting Analysis Tool (HAT 2)” is a software tool to analyse handwriting styles. Known and unknown hands can be analysed by automatically comparing digital images of manuscripts. The software, developed at CSMC by Hussein Mohammed, can be downloaded and used for free under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC).

A manuscript researcher is the new fellow at the Maimonides Centre in Hamburg

Ronny Vollandt, Professor of Jewish Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, is currently a fellow at the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies at Universität Hamburg. His research focuses on the Arabic versions of the Bible and biblical exegesis in the Arabic language, more broadly, medieval Christian- and Judaeo-Arabic literature. Professor Vollandt is a renowned expert for manuscript studies and will stay in Hamburg until August 2018.

New volume of the series Studies in Manuscript Cultures (SMC)

The contributions to the volume Manuscripts and Archives — Comparative Views on Record-Keeping (SMC 11), edited by von Alessandro Bausi, Christian Brockmann, Michael Friedrich and Sabine Kienitz, explore the complex topic of the archive in a historical, systematic and comparative context and view it in the broader context of manuscript cultures by addressing questions like how, by whom and for which purpose archival records were produced, and if they differ from literary manuscripts regarding materials, formats, and producers (scribes).


31 May 2018 6pm | Lecture
Prof. Dr. Paul Dilley
The University of Iowa
Digital Philology and Enhanced Manuscript Images: Prospects and Problems
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, Raum 0001

1 June 2018, 2-6pm | Open Day
The Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC) opens its doors to the public.
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

6 June 2018 6pm | Lecture
Prof. Dr. Scott Reese
Northern Arizona University
Underappreciated Print: Textual Production and Globalized Contexts in 20th Century African Islam
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

7 - 8 June 2018 | Workshop
Publishing Manuscripts
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

12 - 13 June 2018 | Workshop
OpenX for Interdisciplinary Manuscript Research

Details and Registration
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

13 - 14 June 2018 | Conference
Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis
The 3rd international conference 'Natural Sciences and Technology in Manuscript Analysis' will be held at CMSC on 13 and 14 June 2018.
Participation is free, please register online.
Information and registration

CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

20 June 2018 6pm | Lecture
Prof. Dr. Victor H. Mair
University of Pennsylvania
Dunhuang MS P4524: a Storytelling Scroll with Pictures (r) and Verses (v)
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26, room 0001

22 - 23 June 2018 | Workshop
Leaf or Page. What it Means to “Read” a Manuscript
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26

25 - 26 June 2018 | Workshop
The Safavid Multi-Text Manuscript 1984.463 (Harvard University, Sackler Museum) - Its Content and Context

Details and Registration
CSMC, Warburgstraße 26