Historic Arabic medical manuscripts go online

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By | From the Collections

The Wellcome Library is pleased to announcethe launch of Wellcome Arabic Manuscripts Online, a digital manuscript library created in partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and King’s College London Department of Digital Humanities.

From the official press release:

Arabic medicine was once the most advanced in the world, and now digital facsimiles of some of its most important texts have been made freely available online. The unique online resource, based on the Wellcome Library’s Arabic manuscript collection, includes well-known medical texts by famous practitioners (such as Avicenna, Ibn al-Quff, and Ibn an-Nafis), lesser-known works by anonymous physicians and rare or unique copies, such as Averroes’ commentaries on Avicenna’s medical poetry…

Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, expressed his enthusiasm for the project:

Providing global access to our collections is at the heart of our mission to foster collaborative research, and we are delighted to see these particular treasures become freely accessible online. We are grateful to the Library of Alexandria and Kings College London, whose partnership in this project has enabled us to extend the availability of these rare materials to the countries of their origin.

Funded by the JISC and the Wellcome Trust, the Wellcome Arabic Cataloguing Partnership (WAMCP) was initiated in 2009 with the aim to make the Wellcome’s Arabic manuscripts available and to establish a standard in Arabic manuscript cataloguing and display.

This began with the creation of the “cataloguing tool”. A schema was adapted from the existing ENRICH schema to allow for non-Western manuscript description. The tool, the repository, and the website was developed by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina with direction from the Wellcome and King’s College London team members.

Although the cataloguing tool has been in use for many months now (with over 450 manuscript records now completed or in progress), the website was only released to the public today, with a sample of around 120 manuscript records available to view. The remaining manuscript records will be made available online throughout the summer.

Image: WMS Arabic 529 – Anonymous book of magic spells

Christy Henshaw

Christy Henshaw

Christy Henshaw manages digitisation at the Wellcome Library. @Chenshaw. Linkedin

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