A conference on manuscripts in arabic script

The CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) of Madrid (Spain) and the EPHE (École Pratique des Hautes Études) of Paris, have organized a Conference on codicology and history of the manuscript in Arabic script in Madrid, from the 27th to the 29th of May 2010.

In the course of the centuries, the Islamic world has witnessed an intense activity of composition of texts, which was in its turn going hand in hand with an equally intense activity of transcription of those texts. Researches and publications on the codicology of the manuscripts in Arabic script have been growing over the last quarter of a century, thus allowing us to know better their composition and peculiarities. Much still remains to be done, but the amount of codicological data now available enables us to get a broader view of this field of research and to start taking into consideration the history of the book in the Islamic world. On this last issue, although the question of the total number of Arabic manuscripts still remains unanswered, a quantitative approach seems under the present circumstances better qualified to lead on to significant results.

The goal of the present conference, which is a sequel of those which were held in Istanbul (1986), Paris (1994) and Bologna (2000), is to open new perspectives of research and to bring fresh contributions to the history of the manuscript in Arabic script, a still underdeveloped field of investigation which will contribute significantly to the history of the book in general. The need to address these various new questions does not mean that we consider that any effort at exploring the technical aspects should be discontinued. The section dedicated to codicology in the programme of the conference is as important as ever. Similarly, papers devoted to the use of books in Islamic societies or to the culture of the book would find their place within the frame of this conference. Due to the close relationship between the manuscript and the lithographed book from a technical point of view, contributions about the latter could also take place within the programme of the conference and help starting a discussion on the continuities between these two kinds of books as well as on the changes introduced by lithography.

This international conference is intended for the specialists of codicology, history of the book and of reading; it may also interest those who are using Arabic manuscripts in their researches –historians, editors of texts, for instance-, restorers or historians of the book at large.


  1. Codicology. Manuscripts in Arabic script from the East and the West, from the High Middle Ages to Modern times.
  2. Production of the book: readers, market (prices, trade, and so on), patrons, typology of books according to the contents.
  3. Transmission of the book as an object.
  4. Role of the libraries.
  5. Relationship between manuscripts and lithographed books.

Languages of the conference: English, French and Spanish.

Deadline: Those wishing to give a paper should send the abstract of the intended papers (about 300 words) before September 30th, 2009 to the following address: cchla2010@gmail.com. The scientific committee will inform the authors before November 30th, 2009 whether their paper has been accepted.

Scientific committee:

François Déroche

Maribel Fierro

Mercedes García-Arenal

Nuria Martínez de Castilla Muñoz

Francis Richard María

Jesús Viguera Molins

Amalia Zomeño

Organizing committee:

François Déroche (EPHE)

Nuria Martínez de Castilla Muñoz (CSIC)

François Richard (BULAC)