Global Manuscript Studies: HMML Special Collections

Global Manuscript Studies

Writing by hand is an activity that all cultures have in common. From Europe to Asia to Africa, from the ancient Egyptians to the present, manuscripts have been a vital part of the chain linking us together as communities. HMML’s mission to digitally preserve and share these handwritten works from around the world has created a strong teaching collection of original manuscripts to help explain our work to visitors and to prepare future manuscript researchers. The manuscript collections at HMML come from different regions, cultures, and religious traditions. They also span a wide range of time (from the 5th to the 20th centuries) and are in a great variety of languages. Some are codices (books with pages) and some are scrolls or palm-leaf books. Some remain only as fragments.

The printed book collections at HMML also support these studies through early critical textual editions, linguistic aids, and grammars for several languages, such as Syriac, Ethiopic, or Arabic. The Special Collections also holds important early editions of Biblical texts and landmark editions of the Qu’ran: first printed Qur‘an (in Latin, 1543, with a preface by Martin Luther), the first widely available edition in Arabic (Hamburg, 1694), and the first annotated critical edition (Padua, 1698 - AARB 288 and AARB 289).



Middle East

South Asia

  • Palm leaf book (SJRB 48)
  • Tibetan scroll (SJRB 166)
  • Buddhist manuscript (Wyatt Ms. 1; SJRB 164)


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