More on the lost library of Seert

Addai ScherI have referred before to the library at the Chaldean archbishop’s residence at Séert.  Even copies of the catalogue of manuscripts made by Addai Scher in 1905 seem scarce.  Here in the UK a copy is listed in the British Library, but this is useless to most people.  Yesterday I looked at the copy in Cambridge University Library, which turned out to be an incomplete and grotty photocopy of the BL one.  I admit that I mourned over codex 88, containing the only copy in the world of Theodore of Mopsuestia on the Incarnation.  J. Quasten in the third volume of his Patrology states that among his works, “no other work was so often referenced” during the 5th century disputes.

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?

2 thoughts on “More on the lost library of Seert

  1. merhaba,
    değerli site yöneticileri, siirtte görev yapmış başpiskoposlardan mıcahel petrus bartatar’a ait bir mühür elimde bulunmaktadır. ilgilenirseniz benimle mail adresimden irtibata geçebilirsiniz.

  2. Merhaba
    Uzun yıllardır Siirt dili ve kültür tarihiyle ilgileniyorum. bu konuda kitap hazırlığı içindeyim.
    Adınızı kitaba yazmak kaydıyla bana mühür üstündeki yazıların gönderebilir misiniz?
    Email adresim:
    size nasıl ulaşabilirim?
    Teşekkür ederim.

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