The Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, under Fr Columba Stewart, has been photographing manuscripts in the East for quite a few years now, and creating microfilms of them. How necessary this work is, has been shown graphically in recent weeks by the barbaric destruction of Assyrian monuments in Iraq by Muslim thugs, apparently out of sheer savagery.
This evening I learned by accident that the microfilms are being uploaded to Archive.org, as the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Texts, complete with catalogues. For instance, the catalogue of microfilms of manuscripts from the Coptic Patriarchate is here:
- Vol. 1 – https://archive.org/details/
- Vol. 2 – https://archive.org/details/
Unfortunately the collection is very badly organised, at least to a newcomer. Thus I know that manuscripts of the 13th century Christian Arabic writer al-Makin’s History are in this collection. And indeed a search of the PDF – the online reader is unusable for black and white – reveals a mention of al-Makin, and some mysterious references:
Jirjis aI-Makin Ibn al-‘Amid:
Excerpts from the history of Agapius of Manbij falsely ascribed to him: CMA 7-13-12.
Kitab al-ta’rikh: CMB 8-15; 12-5; 13-3.
Ta’rikh al-Muslimin: CMB 12-16.
Erm, right. I think we want the second one, the Kitab al-Tarikh. So what is CMB 8-15? More to the point, how do I find the microfilm of this on Archive.org? Here I ran into difficulty.
I learned from the catalogue that CMB means volume B of some other catalogue of the mss of the Coptic Museum. So far so good. It looks as if this is connected to the name of the uploaded PDF. CMD10-8 is https://archive.org/details/CMB10-8, for instance. So … no luck with al-Makin, then.
But perhaps it will come. In the mean time, look around. There are also Slavonic texts up there. It is a huge treasure chest – if we can find anything.