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A Manuscript from Aleppo

Merchants or chaplains of the Levant Company sourced Syrian manuscripts on behalf of private clients. This flow of Arabic manuscripts into Western collections helped to revolutionise European science and philosophy during this period.

This seventh-century manuscript of homilies draws on original texts of St Severus of Antioch, patriarch of Antioch and head of the Syriac Orthodox church between 512 and 538 CE. It came to the Library as part of the collection amassed by Archbishop James Ussher (1581–1656), who purchased many Syrian biblical manuscripts through fellow academics in Aleppo, and a Levant Company agent, Thomas Davies. The Syriac Orthodox church can claim some of the oldest surviving texts in Christianity and such manuscripts were of particular interest to Ussher for his research into the evolution of the church.

The text, which reads right to left, is written in Estrangelo, the earliest form of Syriac writing. This folio discusses the ascension of Christ into heaven.

Shelfmark: TCD MS 1511

Estelle Gittins

Estelle Gittins is an Archivist in the Department of Manuscripts & Archives with a focus on post-medieval historical collections. She works on public and academic engagement with the collections including outreach and exhibitions.