Armenian Manuscripts: A Carnegie Corporation Digitization Project

The Bodleian Libraries are home to 140 Armenian manuscripts, with the oldest one dating back to the 11th century. In 2021/22, thanks to the generous funding of The Carnegie Corporation, the Bodleian undertook a project to digitize 14 manuscripts (and one rare printed book) from this collection. The selection fell on the manuscripts which, on the one hand, were too fragile to be handled regularly and, on the other hand, could be of significant use to scholars working in a variety of disciplines such as medieval history of the Caucasus and the Near East, theology, art history, and material history.

Five of the manuscripts – MS. Arm. c. 1, Arm. d. 3, Arm. d. 13, Arm. d. 22, and Arm. d. 25 – contain well-preserved illuminations of a whole range of biblical motifs and scenes, some of which were produced in prominent monastic schools of illumination such as Xizan (today’s Hizan in Turkey) and New Julfa (in Isfahan, Iran).

The other manuscripts include the Bodleian’s oldest Armenian manuscript MS. Arm. d. 11, which is John Chrysostom’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, and MS Arm. c. 3 – a Menologion (Յայսմաւուրք), copied between the late 15th and early 16th century and containing a calendar with the feast days and biographies of the saints celebrated by the Armenian Church throughout the year.

For the project, revised and more detailed catalogue entries for each of the digitised manuscripts have been prepared. The full descriptions can be viewed at Armenian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries.