The Bodleian Libraries’ collection of Armenian manuscripts, the first items of which stem from a bequest of Archbishop Laud in 1635, contains both items of scholarly interest and artistic value; a significant part of the collection, consisting of 140 manuscripts from the 11th to the 20th century, was exhibited during the 2015/16 Bodleian winter exhibition Armenia: Masterpieces from an Enduring Culture. 2015 further marked both the 50th anniversary of the endowment of the Calouste Gulbenkian Professorship in Armenian Studies, and 100 years since the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire.
Armenian Studies and manuscripts are typically of interest for a number of fields, including Patristics, Byzantine Studies, Medieval History, Linguistics, Art History, etc. This project seeks to create a digital teaching tool, a Manual of Armenian Codicology and Palaeography, which will serve as a pedagogically minded introduction and guide to the development of Armenian writing, the recognition and differentiation of manuscript hands, and the precise description of manuscripts. The Manual makes use of Bodleian materials, but will be a boon to all those interested in or required to work with Armenian and other Oriental materials anywhere, and showcases the wide range of the Bodleian collection. It further creates additional interaction between the teaching activities of University of Oxford staff and materials from the Bodleian Libraries, and encourages exploration of the latter.