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Semitic language studies (excluding Arabic and Hebrew)

Collection Details

Semitic language studies (excluding Arabic and Hebrew) held at SOAS Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

Includes editions of cuneiform and other Semitic language texts, and studies, encyclopaedias, bibliographies and dictionaries. Virtually the whole range of humanities and sciences are covered. There are about 4,000 volumes, 45 periodical titles and a number of theses, several submitted to SOAS and others published by University Microfilms International.

History and development

Established at the beginning of the Library's existence. Collection development on a systematic basis after the establishment of chairs in Ancient Near Eastern cultures and Semitic languages in 1948 and 1961 respectively.


19th and 20th century texts and studies of Semitic languages and literatures, especially those of the Ancient Near East, and Ethiopia. One of the best collections in this area in Europe, and an excellent resource for teaching and research in the field.

General arrangement and access regulations

Chiefly open access, arranged by language. Periodicals in a separate sequence.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa.


Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey.

Languages of material

Akkadian, Amharic, Aramaic, English, French, Geez, German, Italian, Phoenician, Russian, Samaritan Aramaic, Semitic (Other), Syriac, Tigre, Tigrinya, Ugaritic.


Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Economics, Geography, History, International relations, Language, Law, Literature, Medicine, Music, Philosophy, Politics and government, Religion, Science and technology, Sociology.

Languages as linguistic focus

Akkadian, Amharic, Aramaic, Geez, Phoenician, Samaritan Aramaic, Semitic (Other), Syriac, Tigre, Tigrinya, Ugaritic.

Names relevant to the collection:

  • Cohen, Marcel Samuel Raphael, 1884-1974
  • Goldziher, Ignaz
  • Morag, Shelomo, 1926-1999
  • Moreh, Shmuel
  • Ullendorff, Edward

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Books, Newspapers (includes microfilm editions), Serials, Theses.

Total size of collection

4,000 volumes, 45 periodical titles, 1 newspaper (current issues only)

Size of collection - vernacular

2,000 volumes, 5 periodical titles, 1 newspaper (current issues only)

Size of collection - western

2,000 volumes, 40 periodical titles

Collection Management Information

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

Annual intake

100 volumes

Content date range

5000 BC to present

Interlibrary loan procedure

Collection policy

The Library aims to acquire the important contributions to Asian and African scholarship published anywhere in the world in the humanities and social sciences, as well as representative collections of literature written in Asian and African languages. It aims to be responsive to changing interests and new developments; at the same time it bears in mind its role as a leading national and international resource for Asian and African studies. For the text of the policy apply to the Director of Library and Information Services.

Retention policy

At present all material is retained with the following exceptions: outdated editions of teaching texts, multiple copies of teaching material no longer used, material for which there is no evident demand, material which has been replaced by microform, unless it is of historic value. Academic advice is normally sought before a decision is taken. Apply to the Director of Library and Information Services for further information.

Collection Catalogue Information


The online library catalogue offers access to all material acquired since 1989 and a substantial part of the material collected prior to that date. Work to add records for the earlier collections from the card catalogue is ongoing and by the end of 2002 all material acquired since 1979 will be included as well as significant parts of the rest of the collection. For those who cannot access the card catalogue on site the Library's catalogues have been published (details below).

Catalogue transliteration schemes

Since 1989 all records have been created using the current Library of Congress transliteration schemes, with the exception of Japanese which uses Modified Hepburn. As records are added to the online catalogue the transliterated records are being updated to these schemes.

Catalogue scripts

The current cataloguing and some of the earlier records for the following languages contain author and title fields in the relevant script: Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Ladino, Persian, Yiddish.

Collection printed catalogues

Library catalogue of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
School of Oriental and African Studies
Boston MA: G.K.Hall & Co., 1963-1978.
3 supplements were published by the same publisher in 1968, 1973 and 1978. IDC published a fifth and final supplement in microfiche for 1978-1989 in 1990.

Links to other collections

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