The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at Penn brings manuscript culture, modern technology and people together.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts on OPenn

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With its emphasis on the history of science and the transmission of knowledge across time and geography, the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection brings together many of the great scientific and philosophical traditions of the ancient and medieval worlds. Documenting the extraordinary achievements of scholars, philosophers, and scientists active in pre-modern Europe, Africa, and Asia, the collection illuminates the foundations of our shared intellectual heritage.

The following Middle Eastern manuscripts from the Schoenberg collection have been uploaded recently to OPenn.  They were written between the 10th and 18th centuries, originated in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and cover a wide range of topics including mathematics, medicine, astronomy, and philosophy.  One notable example from the list is  LJS 49 “Rawḍat al-adhhān fī maʻrifat tashrīḥ badan al-insān.” It is an early copy, probably in the hand of the author, of a Persian anatomy treatise originally written in 1396, with chapters on bones, nerves, veins, arteries and muscles, and complex organs. The colophon states that it was completed by the author himself in the month of Dhu’l-Hijja in the year A.H. 813 (1411). The anatomical illustrations are some of the oldest known representations of the body in the Islamic world. Below are two full-page anatomical diagrams of bones (f. 10r) and complex organs including uterus with fetus (f. 30r).


LJS 49, Folio 10r, Written in Persia


LJS 49, Folio 30r, Written in Persia

Below is a list of Schoenberg manuscripts written in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen that are now on OPenn.  Over the next several weeks, we’ll continue to post additional images from these manuscripts to our Tumblr page ( – so remember to follow us on Tumblr. If you’d like to find additional manuscripts from the Middle East and North Africa, check out OPenn.


Fol. 3v, LJS 37, *Ikhtiṣār min al-maqālāt min kitāb Uqlīdis,* Egypt, Iraq, or Syria, A.H. 502-504 (1108-1111),


Fol. 198v, LJS 43, *Qaṣāʼid,* Written in Persia in the late 16th century,


Fol. 21v, LJS 49, *Rawḍat al-adhhān fī maʻrifat tashrīḥ badan al-insān,* Written in Persia in A.H. 813 (1411; colophon, f. 29)


Fol. 1r, LJS 51, *Collection of alphabets and encoded correspondence,* Possibly written in Syria, in the 15th century



Fol. 62v, LJS 189, *Zakhīrah-ʹi Khvārazmshāhī,* Written in Persia in the 14th century


Fol. 4r, LJS 286, *Tadhkirah uṣūl handasah al-ḥisāb li-Uqlīdis,* Written in Persia, dated Rabi I A.H. 890 (April 1485)


Fol. 1v, LJS 293, *Kitāb al-Bayān wa al-tidhkār fī sanʻat ʻamal al-ghubār,* Baghdad, A.H. 590 (1194)


Fol. 6r, LJS 294, *Kitāb al-Adwār,* Written in Mosul, Iraq, dated 7 Dhū al-Qaʻdah A.H. 1103 (22 Jul. 1692; colophon, p. 51)


Fol. 5r, LJS 295, *Risālah al-sharafīyah fī al-nisab al-taʼlīfīyah,* Written in Persia, now Iran, in A.H. 815 (1412)


Fol. 23r, LJS 296, *Īḍāḥ al-maqāṣid li-farāʼiḍ al-fawāʼid,* Probably written in Iṣfahān, Iran, in A.H. Shaʻbān 720 (September 1320, f. 162r)


1, LJS 299, *Sefer ha-Ḳanon,* Written in Yemen in the 15th century, with additional works and glosses added in the 15th or early 16th century


Fol. 1r, LJS 322, *Fragments from Books III-V of Qānūn fī al-ṭibb,* Iran or Turkey?, 12–?


Fol. 4v, LJS 387, *Qāmūs al-muḥīṭ,*Written in western Persia, ca. 1400


Fol. 4r, LJS 388, *Mulakhkhaṣ fī al-hayʼah,* Written in Persia, now Iran, dated A.H. 29 Rabīʻ I, 786 (21 May 1384, colophon, f. 19v)


Fol. 4v, LJS 392, *Taḥrīr al-majisti,* Possibly written in Persia, now Iran, dated 13 Dhū al-Qaʻda, A.H. 813 (9 Mar. 1411, colophon, f. 213r),


Fol. 1r, LJS 393, *Sharḥ Fusūl Ibuqrāṭ,*Written in Mamluk Egypt or Syria in the mid-14th century


Fol. 1r, LJS 394, *Section of Tāj al-lughah wa-ṣiḥāḥ al-ʻArabīyah,* Written in Egypt or Syria in the 14th century


Fol. 1v, LJS 398, *Khalq al-insān,* Written in Mamluk Syria or Iraq, dated 15 Jumādá II A.H. 689 (colophon, f. 84r)


Fol. 24r, LJS 399, *Inbāṭ al-miyāh al-khafīyah,* Written in Iraq or Persia, dated A.H. 14 Dhūl-Qaʻda 1084 (20 Feb. 1674)


Fol. 66r, LJS 400, *Sharḥ-i Zīj Gūrgānī,* Written in Persia, now Iran, in A.H. 899 (1493-1494, colophon, f. 409r)


Fol. 40v, LJS 404, *Jawāmīʻ al-ʻulam,* Written in Iran in the first quarter of the 13th century


Fol. 27v, LJS 407, *Collection of astronomical texts,* Written in Persia, now Iran, in the early 15th century


Fol. 1v, LJS 409, *Kitāb al-Kashf wa-al-bayān,* Written in Iran in the 15th century


Fol. 1r, LJS 410, *Sharḥ mulakhkhaṣ fī al-hayʼah,* Written in Persia, now Iran, possibly in the 15th century


Fol. 37r, LJS 411, *Sharḥ-i Zīj-i jadīd-i Sultānī,*  Written in Persia, now Iran, between 1523 (when the commentary was completed) and 1528 (when the author died)


Fol. 23v, LJS 414, *Astrological compendium,* Written at the madrasah of ʻAlī Jāh Maḥmūd Beg Nāẓir, ca. 1670 (works dated on f. 136v, 157r, 168v), probably in Iṣfahān (f. 136v) in Persia, now Iran


1, LJS 425, *Kitāb Tawḍīḥ al-alḥān,* Written in Persia, now Iran, in the 17th century


Fol. 1v , LJS 426, *al-Kullīyāt,* Written in Persia in the late 14th century


Fol. 1v, LJS 427, *Books II-V of al-Qānūn fī al-ṭibb,* Written in Persia in the 16th or 17th century,


Fol. 3r, LJS 434, *Taqwīm,* Written in the Timurid Empire in eastern Persia, now Iran, ca. 1507 (based on date of horoscope diagram, f. 7v)


Fol. 2v, LJS 435, *Maqālah fī al-ʻamal bi-al-yad,* Written in Mesopotamia (now mostly Iraq) in A.H. 869 (1464)


Fol. 1r, LJS 441, *Kitāb al-Miṣbāḥ wa-nuzʹhat al-arwāḥ fī ʻilm al-miftāḥ fī al-ḥikmah al-Ilāhīyah wa-al-ṣināʻah al-falsafīyah wa al-nātijah al-ʻalīyah,* Probably written in Aleppo, Syria, ca. 1562 (date of first work, f. 92v)


Fol. 1v, LJS 444, *Ḥall al-Mūjiz,* Dated 22 Shawwāl A.H. 884 (6 January 1480), with replacement leaves added in the 18th century


Fol. 2r, LJS 447, *Volumes 20-22 of Masālik al-abṣār fī mamālik al-amṣār,* Written in Aleppo, Syria, in 1710 (inscription, f. 195r)


Fol. 1r, LJS 459, *Sirr al-asrār,* Mosul?, Iraq, between 1193 and 1211,


Fol. 1r, LJS 460, *Gathering from Ikhtiṣār min al-maqālāt min kitāb Uqlīdis,* Egypt, Iraq, or Syria, A.H. 502-504 (1108-1111),


Fol. 3r, LJS 478, *Astronomical anthology,* Written in Persia or Anatolia, A.H. Jumadi II 625 (May 1228).



Transformation of Knowledge: Early Manuscripts from the Collection of Lawrence J. Schoenberg. Edited by Crofton Black, published by Paul Holberton Publishing, 2006



-Diane BiunnoAmey Hutchins, and Dot Porter (February 2017)

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