Friday, May 31, 2013

Medieval Manuscripts in the News--Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, and/or Illuminated

Four news stories of potential interest to medievalists, excerpted from American Libraries Direct.


Oldest known Torah scroll identified
What is being described as the oldest Torah scroll known to exist has been discovered in the library of the University of Bologna, Italy. The parchment scroll, 36 meters long and 64 centimeters high, had been erroneously cataloged as dating from the 17th century. Paleographic and radiocarbon examinations of the scroll determined it had actually been copied sometime in the years 1155–1225. The discovery was made by Hebrew Professor Mauro Perani as he was compiling a new catalog for the library’s collection of Hebrew manuscripts....
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 29; Melbourne (Vict.) Age, May 29; Corriere della Sera (Milan), May 29 

How Timbuktu’s manuscripts were saved from jihadists
Sudarsan Raghavan writes: “It was 7 o’clock on a hot night in August 2012 and Hassine Traore was nervous. Behind him were 10 donkeys, each strapped with two large rice bags filled with ancient manuscripts. The bags were covered in plastic to shield them from a light rain. Radical Islamists had entered Timbuktu in Mali four months earlier, and they had set about destroying everything they deemed a sin.”...
Washington Post, May 26 

Turkish manuscripts in Balkan libraries to be preserved
The Yunus Emre Institute in Ankara, Turkey, has embarked on a project to classify and digitize Turkish manuscripts and documents in libraries in the Balkans. The Turkish Central Bank has allocated $1 million for the project. Many Turkish manuscripts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Croatia, and Serbia are in poor condition and need to be restored. More than 200 Turkish manuscripts in Bosnian libraries have already been digitized. Bosnian library officials will also be sent to Turkey to receive training in manuscript restoration work....
Cihan News Agency, Istanbul, May 28 

Illuminated manuscripts
Beth Carswell writes: “An illuminated manuscript is any manuscript whose text is accompanied by decoration. It originally referred only to silver or gilt adornments, but came to be acceptable terminology for any manuscript with drawings, paintings, or decorations such as ornate initials, borders, or floral accoutrements. The luxury of illuminations present in a book creates another level of enjoyment; not only the information, entertainment, and fascination in reading, but also the pure pleasure of beauty, art, and attention to detail.”...
AbeBooks, May 24

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