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Oriental Manuscripts. Near Eastern: General

Collection Details

Oriental Manuscripts. Near Eastern: General held at Cambridge University Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The collection includes Oriental christian literature in languages other than Arabic, Persian and Turkish, letters and documentary material in the form of papyrus fragments, and Demotic ostraca.

History and development

The material was acquired over the last 250 years by purchase and donation. The latest major addition to the collection, a donation fo several hundred papyrus fragments, was received in Feburary 2001.


Though small in number, the library's collection of Syriac manuscripts is representational, and contains some unique codices. The most prominent of these is the so-called 'Buchanan Bible', thought to be the oldest version of the Peshitta. The collection includes a large number of Coptic papyri, containing christian literature and general writings. There is one elegantly illuminated Armenian manuscript.

General arrangement and access regulations

The material is arranged by language and form.

Please note that the 'Buchanan Bible', owing to its state of conservation, is not normally issued to readers. However, there are two microfilms available, which may be consulted. Readers wishing to study the text in the original must obtain the written permission of the University Librarian to do so.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa.

Languages of material

Armenian, Coptic, Egyptian (Ancient), Geez, Georgian, Mongolian, Syriac.


History, Literature, Philosophy, Religion.

Names relevant to the collection:

Thompson, H. Michaelides

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types


Total size of collection

2 codices in Georgian 2 codices in Mongolian 26 codices in Armenian 70 codices in Ethiopic 298 codices in Syriac 96 codices in Coptic 500 Coptic fragments in the Michaelides collection 417 Coptic fragments in the Green-Plumley collection 300 ostraca

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has stayed the same.

Annual intake

1 codex

Content date range

0 to 0 AD

Collection Catalogue Information


Printed catalogues exist for the codices; copies can be searched at An online catalogue of the Michaelides Coptic fragments is available at

Catalogue transliteration schemes

Library of Congress (LC) or other systems

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