Elucidating Syriac manuscripts

Debié Muriel



The database e-ktobe http://syriac.msscatalog.org/) aims at describing the content of Syriac and Garshuni (Arabic in Syriac script) manuscripts as well as the cultural artefact and writing material, information that do not appear in traditionnal catalogues. It aims also at integrating and translating the colophons (the scribes signature and comments) of the manuscripts it includes as sources for the history of writing (the script is often different in the colophons and in the text proper), the chronology of scripts’ use, regional palaeography, religious and social history (scribes, schools…). The database enables searches on the people linked to the making of manuscripts, material characteristics and content: how many hagiographic manuscripts were copied by the same copyist, how many manuscripts written in estrangela script (the oldest Syriac script) in theree columns are known and their date of production; how many scientific manuscripts were produced in the 5th-7th c? are but examples of possible searches.

The e-ktobe project was launched in 2011: initially in  EAD and hosted by e-corpus (Centre du Livre d’Arles) that has now been dismantled, the database has been moved to a new XML-TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) tool that better fits the task of describing manuscripts. This tool is developped by the computing center and the researchers of the Institute for the History and Research of Texts (IRHT, CNRS) as a generic tool for manuscripts in any language (http://www.msscatalogorg) that can be linked to other tools in IRHT as well as internationally.


The funding is requested for two main tasks: tidying the data after the change of data processing implied a loss of information as well as garbled data and linking the database to other databases; adding data

After adding information on the manuscripts kept in Paris, the work will proceed with those in the Vatican Library. It will allow searches on scripts, networks of scribes, the constiution of religious and literary corpuses…

A more limited yet important task will be to add the links to the images available online of manuscripts described in e-ktobe.

This will increase the interoperability of the database with other electrnic tools in the field of Syriac studies, notably syri.ac (that already gathers links to catalogues and images of manuscripts available online) and syriaca.org, as well as the new Syriac Corpus online.


previous next