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Oriental Manuscripts

Oriental Manuscripts

The collection of oriental manuscripts in the Gotha Research Library primarily originated due to the activities of the scholar, Ulrich Jasper Seetzen. He travelled to the Middle East on behalf of the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg in the early 19th century and acquired manuscripts. Today, the Gotha collection is considered the third largest of its kind, after those in Munich and Berlin. The collection represents a multi-facetted cross-section of Islamic scholarship over a period of 800 years, and contains manuscripts in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Persian and Syriac languages.

The collection is exceptional, not only because numerous manuscripts are unique. Its encyclopedic nature is also striking and reflects the intellectual horizon of Seetzen and his ducal sponsors influenced by the Enlightenment. It contains a wealth of private writings, documents, and recordings from scholars and unknown authors. Consequently, it provides a unique insight into pre-modern knowledge culture in the Middle East, particularly during the Ottoman period.

From the collection

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At a glance

Insight into the collection of oriental manuscripts

UNESCO World Documentary Heritage

The Research Library preserves UNESCO World Document Heritage with the Arabic manuscript “Kitāb al-Aqālīm/al-Masālik wa-'l-mamālik” by Islamic scholar al-Iṣṭaḫrī from 1173.


Gotha Manuscript Talks

The “Gotha Manuscript Talks” promote international exchange on oriental manuscript cultures. This digital lecture series provides a platform for renowned researchers to engage with the academic community and the interested public.


Blog posts

For further reading and viewing

  • Orientalische Buchkunst in Gotha. Ausstellung zum 350jährigen Jubiläum der Forschungs- und Landesbibliothek Gotha, Gotha 1997, https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:gbv:547-202100265.
  • Lecture by Feras Krimsti on the ->Oriental Manuscript Collection as part of a series hosted by the Juma AI-Majid Center for Culture and Heritage in Dubai, 2022.
  • Six-part Al Jazeera documentary “Cuisine of Our Ancestors” in Arabic – more information can be found ->here .

Contact Information

University of Erfurt | Gotha Research Library
Friedenstein Palace
Schlossplatz 1
D-99867 Gotha