The latest Special Collections Exhibition opens today. It was inspired by an inventory of Middle Eastern and Islamic language materials that was recently compiled by Dr Majid Daneshgar, former lecturer at Theology and Religion at the University of Otago, now the University of Freiburg, Germany. Arabic, Persian, and Turkish books and manuscripts are on display, mainly from the collection of the Rev. William Arderne Shoults (1839-1887). Some of the printed books are scarce; the manuscripts unique. There are a few modern publications in the exhibition. These are mainly from the library of Charles Brasch (1903-1973), who was an archaeological field assistant at Tell el Amarna, Egypt, from 1933 to 1935.
Choice travel and history books are also on display that not only help contextualise the language-based items, but also convey a wider picture and greater understanding on this area of the world. Importantly, the exhibition has a largely historical focus, with items displayed grounded in a past stretching back to antiquity.
Some of the items on display include editions of George Sandys’s A Relation of a Journey begun An: Dom: 1610 (1615; 1632); David Roberts’ superb The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia (1856); Thomas Erpenius’s early Arabic grammar entitled Rudimenta Linguae Arabicae (1628); a first edition of William Jones’s A Grammar of the Persian Language (1771); Robert Wood’s stupendous The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the Desart (1753); Charles M. Doughty’s Travels in Arabia Deserta (1933); and T.E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935). Language materials include a unique Qur’an (c.1846); a unique manuscript of Euclid’s Elements i n Arabic (c.1800); an Arabic Bible printed in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1811); a Hebrew Bible printed c.1611; and Arthur Lumley Davids’s A Grammar of the Turkish Language (1832).
The exhibition runs to 1 June 2018.
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