Manuscripts wait for researchers

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February 3, 2016

Manuscripts wait for researchers


As the head of state noted on international conference “The historical heritage of scientists and thinkers of the medieval East, its role and importance for contemporary civilization”, which was held in Samarkand, the brilliant works of outstanding scientists and thinkers of the medieval East are the wealth not only of one nation or people, but of all mankind. Reasonable and efficient use of extant material wealth for the benefit of all mankind is our job, our duty.

The works of our great ancestors constitute the “golden fund” of libraries in many countries in Europe and Asia. Only in Uzbekistan’s book depositories there are over one hundred thousand manuscripts. The main part, which is stored at the Center of Oriental Manuscripts named after Abu Rayhan Beruni at the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies, is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The center was established according to Resolution of the President “On measures on further optimization of structure of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan and strengthening of integration of academic science and higher education of republic” dated July 8, 2014. Specialists of the center are engaged in conservation, deep study and popularization of priceless monuments of writing, contribute to strengthening and development of scientific potential of higher education institutions, ensuring greater involvement in research activities of teachers staff and students. The unique repository of manuscripts known not only by amount of collected rarities here, but also by their thematic, linguistic and temporal diversity, original design.

In its scientific value a collection of oriental manuscripts of the Center is considered one of the richest in the world. To date, the fund has more than 65 thousand manuscripts and lithographic books. The earliest works have a millennial history, and the latest dated fr om the middle of the last century. Papers are written in Uzbek, Arabic, Persian, Tajik, Tatar, Turkmen, Urdu and other languages. They cover different fields of medieval sciences – astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography, medicine, history, philosophy, philology, as well as literature and religious sciences.

Ancient manuscripts are unique not only by their content. Many of them are written on famous Samarkand paper, production of which began in 8th century, decorated by outstanding calligraphers and artists of the past, including the famous calligraphers of Kamoliddin Behzod’s school.

The need to preserve the unique collection for future generations requires continuous control over manuscripts’s state, their timely processing, restoration and conservation, improvement of storage conditions. With the support of UNESCO a thorough examination of technical condition of center has been conducted, at conclusion of which advanced equipment and materials for restoration laboratory were obtained.

Particular importance in center is attached to preservation and promotion of unique ancient written language monuments by means of the latest methods. For example, a joint project with the fund of Gerda Henkel (Germany) to establish an electronic catalog in English, which will be completed this year. This will allow professionals worldwide to receive initial information about a particular composition.

Scientists of center annually publish more than twenty books, which are used by orientalists, historians, philosophers, philologists and workers of spiritual and educational sphere. The other day there a presentation of over twenty publications was held here. Among them – re-published “Chronologies” by Abu Rayhan Beruni in Russian, where amendments to notes have been introduced, indexes have been made up and added.

The center published facsimile of encyclopedic works of 13th century Abu Hafs Nasafi “Location climbing star and the meeting of sciences” – the world’s only manuscript of this work is kept in center’s fund.

As part of fundamental research the textual work on manuscripts of historical works of 16th – early 20th centuries is actively conducted. To date, the center published five works, three of which were released in cooperation with International Institute for Central Asian Studies under UNESCO. In this work, actively participate novice researchers who are a part of the council of young scientists of this institution.

It should be noted that the center staff examined and transferred epigraphic texts of architectural monuments of different regions of the country, which entered the multi-volume edition in three languages ​​”Architectural Epigraphy of Uzbekistan” (“Samarkand. Registan”, “Samarkand. Shahi Zinda”, “Hiva”, “Andijan”, “Namangan”, “Bukhara”, “Navoi”, “Karakalpakstan”, “Surkhandarya”), released in collaboration with the Information Agency «Uzbekistan Today».

In the light of the tasks assigned to the Center of Oriental Manuscripts, scientists will pay special attention to study and publication of monuments of classical eastern literature and philosophy. In particular, in 2015 in the framework of applied project, they initiated the study of collection of manuscripts on philosophy, which in the future will be one of the priority research areas of the center.

“… If the pen did not leave timeless monuments, then wh ere from we would learn the wisdom of nations?” – Abu Raihan Beruni said. Employees of the center, which rightly bears the name of the great scientist, are full of enthusiasm for further in-depth study and promotion of priceless scientific heritage of scientists and thinkers of the medieval East.