The core of the Middle Eastern Studies Collection was given to the University of Melbourne Library in 1972 by the then Department of Middle Eastern Studies. The collection consisted chiefly of microfilms, but included more than 100 original manuscripts housed from that time onwards in the Special Collections. Over time this has grown to 183 manuscripts, many of which are beautiful works of art with interesting calligraphy and decoration.
The manuscripts are written mostly in Persian and Arabic, with a few in Urdu, Syriac Turkish and other languages. Most manuscripts in the collection were written in the nineteenth century, but some may date back to the fifteenth century. There are a number of Qurans, but the collection is not exclusively Islamic: it also includes a Maronite Christian prayerbook in Arabic and a Syriac Christian commentary on the Gospels. There are also grammars, dictionaries and a few fictional and poetic works.
Access and Availability
Material may be accessed through the Cultural Collections Reading Room in the Baillieu Library. Requests for material can be made online prior to visiting the reading room. To request material, please register and order here.