A Page on Iranian History

Iranologie.com is created by Khodadad Rezakhani, a scholar of late antiquity and the early medieval period, mostly in West and Central Asia. He created this site with a focus on Iranian history and is aiming to provide information about history and culture of Iran as well as about “Iran as a modern nation-state”.

The main feature of the website is “The History Page” which is the access point to the main content on the site about Iranian history categorized in three eras of: 1. From the Ancient Times to 650 CE, 2. From Islam to the Safavids, 3. From the Safavids to Modern Iran.

Khodadad Rezakhani, the creator of the site, has a PhD form UCLA in late antique Near East and he is a professional academic dedicated to teaching , researching and writing. He describes the reason for initiating this project as :

“However, I have a deep interest in bringing academic research to the public and find producing knowledge for purely academic audiences to be undemocratic and against the spirit of knowledge. As such, I try to engage in anyway I can, giving interviews to TV and Radio programmes and appearing on various segments dedicated to history. But more than anything, I try to use the internet, and have done so since 1996 (!) to engage, through my podcasts and my weblog, and make sure that what me and my colleagues are working on does not remain behind the locked doors of academic journals.”

Iranologie.com is host for the History of Iran podcast and history Podcast in Persian. Both podcasts cover Iranian history fro pre-Islamic to Islamic and modern ear, one in English and the latter in Persian language. Moreover, all sources and additional materials that were referenced in the podcasts can are listed on Podcast section of the site.

Iranologie: the History of Iran Podcast

In addition to the History and two valuable podcasts, recently, the author of Iranologie.com also created a new project on Twitter, “ @historianofIran, which is a rotating weekly account where different scholars of Iranian history, culture, and languages write about their work for a week at a time”.

last but not least, historical issues are discussed mostly by the author both in English and Persian in the form of a blog and can be accessed on Iranologie.com here.


Sinai Manuscripts Digital Library

Sinai Manuscripts Digital Library is a project of St. Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai, in collaboration with the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL) and the UCLA Library.

Located in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, St. Catherine’s Monastery is “one of the world’s oldest monasteries and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” The site has been occupied by monks since the 4th century, but the monastery was formally established in 6th century the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Thanks to its remote location, the Monastery has been able to preserve one of the world’s most important libraries holding 4,559 manuscripts dating from the 4th to the 19th century in 13 languages, covering a wide range of topics (Bible, liturgy, hagiography, patristics, spirituality, and history, classical poetic, scientific and philosophical texts). Widely recognized as “the world’s oldest continually operating library, the manuscript holdings of St. Catherine’s Monastery represent an unparalleled resource to study the history and literature of the Eastern Mediterranean from late antiquity until early modernity.”

Started in February 2018, the digitization of 1,172 Arabic and Syriac (400,000 pages) should be completed in March 2022. The second phase of the project will focus on digitizing Greek, Georgian, Slavonic and other languages 3,387 codices (1.1 million pages).

At the time of our visit, a total of 660 manuscripts in Arabic, Syriac, Greek, Aramaic, Turkish, Coptic and Latin were accessible via the following categories:

Within each category, holdings can be filtered by genre (the majority of the manuscripts fall into the liturgical and biblical texts genres), date (ranging from 501 to 1900), writing system (the large majority of manuscripts are written in Arabic and Syriac), script (Naskh being the most used calligraphy in this collection), codicological features (colophon, decorations, marginal notes, etc.), support (paper or parchment), form (all of them are codices), and names. Results are displayed either in list or gallery view:

Please note that access to digital versions of manuscripts is conditioned to the creation of a free account. Once logged in, you may open records and view the manuscripts in the custom-made viewer:

Records include bibliographical and codicological information on the codex as well as references. A good variety of reading options are available as shown below:

The Sinai Manuscripts Digital Library benefits from the contributions of worldwide digital imaging scientists and technicians, conservators, consulting scholars, librarians, program managers, and software designers. The first phase received funding from the Ahmanson Foundation, Arcadia, the Museum of the Bible Scholar’s Initiative, and the Steinmetz Family Foundation.

For more information about conservation, digitization standards and methods and rights to use images, please see the About page.

Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation

Al- Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, is a non-profit institution and was founded in 1988 by Ahmad Zaki Yamani and is based in London.

Preservation and documentation of written Islamic Heritage was the initial goal of the Al-Furqan, but it has expanded beyond its initial aim and has three centers active in the field of Islamic studies. Also Al-Furqan  has published many different publications in the field of Islamic manuscripts, one of which is “World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts” and is known as a pioneering work that catalogues manuscripts in various countries from all over the world.

This publication is available at McGill library and can be found here : https://mcgill.on.worldcat.org/oclc/26816242  

Moreover, after completion of the above mentioned publication the digitized outcome of the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts is called ‘World Collections’ databank and can be accessed through Al-Furqan digital library at this address: https://digitallibrary.al-furqan.com/world_library.

The three centers of Al-Furqan, with their publication, research and academic activates, are contributing in various ways to the goal of the foundation, which is conservation, promotion and study of Islamic manuscripts, these three centers are:

“The Manuscript Centre within Al-Furqan was established in 1988, aiming to preserve and study the Islamic manuscripts, which constitute a particularly important part of Islamic heritage…..”
“[….] The Manuscript Centre within Al-Furqan is committed to mobilising all available expertise to preserve these manuscripts and to restore their content to the cultural mainstream.”

“In 1991, the late Sheikh Hamad al-Jasser, a member of Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, gave a keynote speech at the Foundation’s launch, in which he presented some of the most valuable manuscripts of Makkah and Madinah and urged the Foundation to undertake the task of producing an encyclopaedia of the two great cities.”

“The mission of the Centre is summarised in the revitalisation of the knowledge of al-maqasid (objectives, purposes), in order to develop the process of ijtihad (free reasoning) and the renewal of Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence), its fundamental theory (usul), and Islamic thought in general. The Centre also aims to broaden the horizons of knowledge for students of Islamic studies everywhere.”

Another important part of Al-Furqan Foundation is its Digital library which was established in 2013 with the aim of advancing and supporting research as well as raising awareness regarding Islamic written heritage especially Islamic manuscripts. To this end, Al-Furqan Digital Library has a valuable and large collection of references as well as primary resources and presents an increasing repository of bibliographic information about manuscripts and manuscript collections worldwide.

This Digital library is user-friendly and interactive and is available in Arabic and English. It also has a very well-designed guide that walks users through various aspects of the library and show them how to use and access material.

Moreover, Al-Furqan Foundation’s website provides access to a wide range of different information including a section called Selected Articles that provides access to the different full text article in the selected topics of  Articles on Islamic Manuscripts ,  Articles on Makkah & Madinah Articles on the Philosophy of Islamic Law as well as  Articles related to International Days .

Al-Furqan has many publications which can be browsed here, also it worth mentioning that Islamic Studies Library of McGill has many of its publication which can be searched and found in the library catalogue.

Ottoman History Podcast

The Ottoman History Podcast began in 2011 and March 2021 marks its 10 years anniversary that this initiative is recording interviews with academics researching or studying the Ottoman Empire.

It started with the goal of experimenting new form of academic production by using more accessible media and a more collaborative approach. Now it is one of the largest developed  digital resources about Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East in the form of academic discussion.  

“Our recorded interviews and lectures, while still largely academic in tone, provide scholarly conversation accessible to a wider public audience.”

https://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/p/about-us.html

Chris Gratien, Producer and Co-Creator of the podcast in an interview with Bosphorus Review of Books, in response to the question of “What is The Ottoman History Podcast?” says:

Ottoman History Podcast is an internet radio program focused on the history and culture of the Ottoman Empire, modern Middle East, and Islamicate world. Since 2011, we’ve featured the work of over 300 contributors, mostly scholars and students of history and other academic disciplines. At any given time, we have more than a dozen team members equipped to record in different locations throughout the world. All of our interviews happen in person. And the project is completely independent and non-commercial. Over the years we’ve built quite a community that includes not only podcasters but also a few other web projects loosely-centered on the history of the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East”.

 For the full interview click here

On the Ottoman History Podcast’s website, information can be found in five categories of:

  Türkçe — Episodes in Turkish

  The Making of the Islamic World  — conversations about the history of Muslim societies from the 7th to 17th centuries, and each episode offers suggestion for further listening and some primary and secondary reading. 

Also one of our assistant professor of Ottoman history at McGill Institute of Islamic Studies, Aslıhan Gürbüzel,  shared her insights in three episodes in this category (1. The Early Modern Islamic World; 2. Rumi’s World; 3. Dragomans and the Routes of Orientalism)

  Deporting Ottoman Americans : “How do you deport someone whose country no longer exists? This podcast addresses this question through the stories of Middle Eastern migrants subject to deportation from the United States during the 1930s”

  The Yayla— is an internet radio program centered around various range of Turkey’s music. Each episode talks about a particular genre also covers a bit of cultural context.

Bibliographies — is a list of books and resources compiled by Heather Hughes the OHP librarian on select subject and time.

Chris Gratine in his above mentioned interview, for those who are new to this podcast, suggested to start with the episode called : Ottoman New York, where the forgotten shared history and connection between New York city and the Ottoman Empire is being discussed.

7iber / خبر

Launched in 2007 as a “citizen media platform”, 7iber became in 2009 a registered LLC (Limited Liability Company) in Jordan and grew into both a media organization and an online magazine. Over the years, 7iber received grants and funding from the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), The Netherlands Embassy in Amman, International Media Support (IMS), the Swiss Embassy in Amman, Hivos, the Open Society Foundation, Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), InterNews, and the Arab Partnership Participation Fund.

7iber advocates for “an open society that upholds values of accountability, rule of law, human rights, and pluralism, through in-depth multimedia journalism, critical analysis and public conversation.” To do so, they produce and publish original articles, provide a platform for public debate, organize talks, conduct “research on Internet governance and digital rights”, and offer training opportunities “on various aspects of online media.”

Excerpt from the “About” page, December 13, 2012.

Navigate 7iber

Content on 7iber can be discovered via the categories listed below:

7iber on Social Media

In addition to the main media platform, 7iber maintains a blog, where some of the content is archived, and publishes a Newsletter to which anyone can subscribe (by entering their email address at from the bottom of the main page). 7iber is also available on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Google+.

In sum

7iber produces and publishes original news content that will be interesting to anyone looking for un-official information, especially related to Human Rights or political pluralism in the Arab World. As would be the case on any online media platform, it is recommended to cross-check 7iber information and data with those published elsewhere.

The interface is available in Arabic only but some articles are accessible in English.

The Birzeit University Palestinian Archive Project (BZUPAP)

The Birzeit University Digital Palestinian Archive (BZUDPA) is dedicated to documenting the life of Palestinians and their institutions over the past century.

“The mission is thus an open archive dedicated to long-term preservation and to liberation: it is a reliable counter-archive of the Palestinian people.”

The archive is being preserved at The Birzeit University. Received documents from organizational collections, private family documents and archival materials collected by individuals, are organized, categorized, and uploaded to the online archive.

The archived materials will assist interested persons and researchers in understanding Palestinian society and the lives of Palestinians.

What distinguishes BZUPAP is the chronological, spatial and topical diversity of its holdings. Documents collected include the most diverse types of written and audiovisual materials (texts, photographs, videos, recordings)

Images
Maps
Textual

With a clear indication regarding the donor and the source, the archive primary documents consist of: 17000 documents are already uploaded on the website, 30000 documents are in progress of uploading, 7000 documents are being translated from the Ottoman language.

As for the Special documents, there are newspapers since 1909, Old post cards, documents from the Arab National Committee since 1948 and Ottoman documents in Arabic

The user-friendly website provides easy access to its Arabic and English language materials. The digital archive is an essential source for the history, politics and culture of the Palestinian people.

Mouse & Manuscript

Mouse and Manuscript is a free online collection of codicology and paleography lessons in a form of an innovative online “textbook”. Mouse and Manuscript is created by researchers and librarians at Leiden University, using rich and outstanding collection of Oriental manuscripts at Leiden University.

According to Dictionary of English Manuscript terminology:

“‘Codicology’ denotes the study of manuscript books, or codices, in all aspects, including their physical structure, texts, script, binding, decoration, and other features of their production.” *

“’Paleography’ denotes the study of handwriting and of the history of scripts. It involves such practices as the analysis and description of old manuscripts, the deciphering of texts, the dating and identification of hands and scripts, and recognition of the place of origin of a manuscript and of the scribal practices and conventions represented in it.” **

These lessons are offered in an interactive fashion and the goal is to teach various aspects of codicology and paleography. Moreover, by analyzing historical traces in the digitized manuscripts used in this collection, these lessons are trying to show case methods of book making prior to printing press. So far 53 lessons are released and  some of the titles are as follow:

The Manuscripts used in this online textbook are in Arabic, Persian, …. and from Middle East, East Asia, Africa and beyond.

Each lesson consists of several parts, such as an overview of the the manuscript, discussing the specification of the document, transcription and transliteration of the content, and more importantly, fully high resolution digitized manuscript, with the possibility of zooming and turning pages.

Damage and protectionLESSON 7 – DR. DORRIT VAN DALEN

At the end of each lesson a list of more relevant readings and resources as are given well as some assignments/homework.

Dorrit van Dalen initiated Mouse and Manuscript, created and edited several lessons (2, 12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 51) and launched the website in 2020. All other contributor and creators of the lessons are linked to Leiden University through their researches, to learn more about individuals involve in this project click here.

McGill Islamic Studies Library also have various resources on Codicology and Paleography that can be searched and found via library catalogue . some of the titles are as follow:

  • Comparative oriental manuscript studies : an introduction, by Alessandro Bausi, Eugenia Sokolinski, Pier Giorgio Borbone 2015 , Link to the library here.
  • علم الاكتناه العربي الإسلامي = Arabic Islamic palaeography [sic] and codicologyʻIlm al-iktināh al-ʻArabī al-Islāmī = Arabic Islamic palaeography and codicology, by تصنيف قاسم السامرائي., سامرائي، قاسم . 2001. Link to the library here.
  • Writings and writing : investigations in Islamic text and script : in honour of Dr Januarius Justus Witkam, Professor of Codicology and Palaeography of the Islamic world at Leyden University, by Robert M Kerr 1968- (Editor), Thomas Milo (Editor), Jan Just Witkam 1945- (Honouree.) 2013. Link to the library here.

* Beal, P. (2008). codicology. In A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology 1450–2000. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2021, from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199576128.001.0001/acref-9780199576128-e-0184.

**Beal, P. (2008). palaeography. In A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology 1450–2000. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 3 Feb. 2021, from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199576128.001.0001/acref-9780199576128-e-0718

The Digital Orientalist

The Digital Orientalist is an online magazine focusing on digital humanities applied to the large field of “Oriental” studies. It was founded in 2013 by a McGill Institute of Islamic Studies alumn, L.W. Cornelis van Lit, who has been using “computer-supported-solutions” in his own research on post-classical Islamic philosophy for years.

Our name The Digital Orientalist, may raise an eyebrow. We are all fully aware of the contentious meaning of ‘Orientalism’ and its relation to colonialism. We are of the opinion that enough years have gone by to pick this name up again, to convey in one word the relation between our fields of studies. In this sense we mirror similar initiatives like The Digital Classicist, The Digital Medievalist, The Digital Humanist, etc.” Excerpt from the “About” page of The Digital Orientalist.

Today, The Digital Orientalist is run by an editorial team of twenty scholars, librarians, and students sharing their thoughts on digital tools, and practical experiences using them in the Humanities. The blog format allows visitors to access publications either by geographical areas or by topic. Areas covered are:

As for topics, they range from digitization to textual analysis, passing by archiving, data visualization, digital cartography, coding, etc.:

In sum, The Digital Orientalist provides not only informed insight on digital tools, but also practical guidance as to how using them to best support the study, teaching and research in “Oriental” studies. As such, it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Digital Humanities and Area Studies, in particular those cited above.

For news and updates, please see Twitter and Facebook:

Journals, magazines, and newspapers open access initiatives

The Egyptian Press Archive of CEDEJ

The Egyptian Press Archive of CEDEJ is an initiative of the Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et Sociales (CEDEJ) based in Cairo and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) consisting of scanning and publishing online press articles collected and curated by CEDEJ over the past 40 years. To learn more visit the site.

Syrian Print Archive

Syrian Prints Archive is an independent documentary initiative “without any political, partisan or religious affiliations”, that provides archiving and storing services for Syrian print media issued since the outbreak of the March 2011 Revolution, regardless of content or orientations. Between March 2011 and the end of 2014, Syrian media witnessed a significance rise in the number of print publications. To learn more visit the site.

The Directory of Free Arab Journals (DFAJ)

The Directory of Free Arab Journals (DFAJ) is an initiative of Middle Eastern Open Access activists aiming at producing a directory of all open access (OA) scientific journals produced in Arab countries. DFAJ currently includes 250 journals  from 172 publishers in 17 Arab countries. The directory is published under a CC-BY-NC license. Initially launched in 2013, a new version was released in March 2017. To learn more visit the site.

Archives of Arabic cultural and literary journals

This archive aims to preserve Arabic literature and cultural heritage as well as serving research and educational purposes. This digital archives of Arabic cultural and literary journals offers Open Access to no less than 208 journals, among which some of the most significant periodicals of the 19th-20th centuries from Egypt (al-Hilal, al-Manar, al-Muqtataf, etc.), Palestine (al-Karmal), Syria (Journal of the Arabic Academy of Sciences), or Tunisia (al-Fikr). To learn more visit the site.

Middle Eastern and North African Newspapers

The Middle Eastern and North African Newspapers collection is part of East View’s Global Press Archive® (GPA) program. Open Access to this collection is made possible through the generous support of the Center for Research Libraries and its member institutions.. The collection includes publications ranging from across a dynamic region. A broad overview on important historic events from 1870 to 2019. To learn more visit the site.

Two valuable collections of Islamic materials @Library of Congress

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The Library of Congress houses, preserves, collects and makes accessible numerous valuable and historical materials from across the globe in different languages, forms and subjects, this includes  a noteworthy collection of rare Persian language materials. This collection is part of the “African and Middle Eastern Division (AMED) and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division” and includes various rare materials of early print books, lithographic books and manuscripts.

Qurʼān. [1739 or 1740, 1739] Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2017406495/>.

Sūrat al-Qāf. [18th Century] Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2017498316/>.

According to the Library of Congress most materials in this collection was acquired in 1930s through a well-known dealer in fine Islamic and Near Eastern arts, Kirkor Minassian. This acquisition includes rare manuscripts and books in Arabic, Persian, Armenian and Turkish language, however the rare Persian language collection grew beyond Minassain acquisitions as the library continued to acquire more materials from other sources as well as to receive rare collections in a form of donation from generous people.

Ṣāfī, Aḥmad Rashīd, Scribe, Ibrāhīm AdʹHam Gharbaldah Balawī, and Charles C McVicker. Qurʼān
. [18–?] Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2010471600/>

This collection consists of materials in different subject and disciplines from the entire Middle East. However, literary works and historical lithographs makes up for much of the collection.

“A number of these items are exquisitely illuminated anthologies of poetry by classic and lesser known poets, written in fine calligraphic styles, and illustrated with miniatures. Many also have beautiful bindings. A number of the illuminated books are multilingual works, which include Arabic and Turkish passages in addition to Persian, focusing on scientific, religious – philosophical and literary topics, and others are holy books important to all confessional traditions within the Islamic world.”

In 2014 in an exhibition, called “A Thousand Years of the Persian Book” that was held by The Library’s Near East Section, 40 items of rare Persian collection were shown to the public, this exhibition led to a digitization project in 2015. As a result of this ongoing project up until now 169 lithographs of the Collection are digitized and made available.

This beautifully organized collection can be accessed here. Each record provides access to a digitized format of the item as well as a description about the item such as a physical account, bibliographic information and when available summary of the content.

In addition to the abovementioned collection, Library of Congress also provided to a large collection of Arabic script calligraphy sheets from 9th to 19th century. 373 calligraphy sheets can be browsed online which mainly consist of fragments of Quran written on paper or parchment.

Access the collection here.

This beautiful collection also provides detail description for each item as well as script of the presented sheet, calligraphic style, date and physical account of the item. This collection also includes a section of Special Presentations:
Calligraphers of the Persian Tradition
Ottoman Calligraphers and Their Works
Qur’anic Fragments
Noteworthy Items