I’ve been trying to pin down data about the loss of the library. I’ve found online a book from 1920 in English which gives eyewitness accounts of how the scholar Addai Scher (left) died, after fleeing his residence with the aid of a sympathetic Turkish officer, he was caught, “looking pale and emaciated”, beaten up by Kurdish irregulars, and then shot several times. Elsewhere the account refers to books being looted from other sites.
This leads to an interesting question: do we know for a fact that these volumes are not to be found somewhere in Kurdistan? A couple of weeks ago I heard from someone who named himself a Kurd, proferring a bible manuscript, “written on skin”. The invitation sounded like a con. George Kiraz recounts how a DVD of images of a manuscript, on black parchment (!) and containing a mixture of crude Syriac and Arabic lettering, was being touted around bishops in Eastern Turkey, so clearly someone has realised that there is a market.
But who are these people? And, more seriously: what books exist in Kurdistan? Saddam Hussein had a collection of manuscripts before his fall, which included Arabic and Kurdish mss. Is there work to be done, to determine what actually exists out there?