Workshop: Arabic Manuscripts

11 December, 2017 - 08:00 - 13 December, 2017 - 20:00
Workshop poster


The first research vector of the program "War in the Medieval Near East (11th-16th C.): Transmission of Knowledge, Social Practices and Sensitive Approach", aims at giving researchers access to – and studying – an unpublished documentation. It combines training, editing and analysing furūsiyya manuscripts whose dissemination is still poorly known.

In this program, manuscripts are considered as fully historical sources whose study should allow a better knowledge of the environment in which they were written, made and disseminated. Researchers aim at using all the information supplied by the artefacts and the documental notes that they contain. It is in this context that the first workshop "Arabic Manuscripts as historical sources" is organized in IFAO; it will be followed, in 2018 and 2019, by two more specialized workshops focusing on the completion of a database and the edition of manuscripts.

This workshop aims at providing the participants with the basic codicological knowledge and at giving them the necessary operational autonomy required by their daily research. A practical approach has been privileged by the organizers: courses mixing presentation and exercises; specific hand-on sessions based on the original manuscripts preserved in IFAO.

Courses will be taught in English by Dr Élise Franssen (Univ. of Liège) and Dr Abbès Zouache (CEFAS). The works of the participants will be supervised Dr Élise Franssen, Dr Mathieu Eychenne and Dr. Abbès Zouache.

Organising committee

Organized by Dr Élise Franssen (Univ. of Liege), Dr. Mathieu Eychenne (OIB) and Dr Abbès Zouache (CEFAS & CIHAM)


December, 11-13, 2017


Cairo, Institut français d’archéologie orientale (IFAO)

Public Lecture

In the Margins and between the Lines: Towards a Social History of Medieval Arabic Manuscripts

Konrad Hirschler Freie Universität Berlin

11th Decembre 2017 6 pm at IFAO


Over the past decades the manuscript has gained a new position in historical scholarship, including in Arabic history. Rather than seeing it as the supposedly neutral carrier of a given text, scholarship has increasingly turned to the individual manuscript as an artefact to be studied in its own right – even if it is a rather unspectacular and ‘run-off-the-mill’ manuscript on the shoddy end of manuscript culture. In consequence, what had been seen as ephemeral and marginal to the manuscript has moved into the mainstream focus of scholarly interests, e.g. paratextual notes (be it on ownership or transmission) as well as scribbles by manuscript users. These marginalia have turned out to play a crucial role in order to see manuscripts in their specific social and cultural contexts. This lecture takes up this recalibration in scholarship to discuss the example of a late 15th-century Damascene book collection. By discussing the trajectories and the provenance of this collection’s manuscripts, it considers the different stages of their life cycles which are discernible on their folia.

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