mardi 6 septembre 2011

για τις 8-9 δεκέμβρη, στην αθήνα. πολύ πρόχειρη αναφορά.
Standing Committee for the Humanities (SCH)
Cover page:
collage by Evgenia Sokolinskaia, images courtesy
of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK;
Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele, Naples, Italy;
National Centre of Manuscripts, Tbilisi, Georgia
Sam Fogg Gallery, London, UK (;
private collection, Istanbul, Turkey;
Schøyen Collection, Oslo, Norway
Ewa Balicka-Witakowska, Uppsala, Sweden;
Trinity College, Art & Archive Collection, University
of Melbourne, Australia.
The European Science Foundation (ESF) is an independent,
non-governmental organisation, the members
of which are 80 national funding agencies, researchperforming
agencies, academies and learned societies
from 30 countries.
The strength of ESF lies in the influential membership
and in its ability to bring together the different domains
of European science in order to meet the challenges
of the future.
Since its establishment in 1974, ESF, which has its
headquarters in Strasbourg with offices in Brussels
and Ostend, has assembled a host of organisations
that span all disciplines of science, to create a common
platform for cross-border cooperation in Europe.
ESF is dedicated to promote collaboration in scientific
research, funding of research and science policy
across Europe. Through its activities and instruments
ESF has made major contributions to science in a global
context. The ESF covers the following scientific
• Humanities
• Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences
• Medical Sciences
• Physical and Engineering Sciences
• Social Sciences
• Marine Sciences
• Nuclear Physics
• Polar Sciences
• Radio Astronomy Frequencies
• Space Sciences
Micrographic ‘carpet’ page of masoretic notes in a manuscript of
The Prophets, the earliest dated Hebrew Codex. Tiberias (Palestine)
904/905. Cairo, Karaite Synagogue.
COMSt | 3
Manuscript studies, as the discipline dealing with material
hand-written text witnesses, are of fundamental importance
for the study of all literate and literary cultures, and
scholars working in the different branches of philology,
including Oriental studies, have long been aware of this
fact. Over the past decades, numerous studies devoted
to various issues of manuscript studies have emerged,
focusing on codicology, palaeography, text criticism, and
also issues of manuscript preservation and restoration.
The most progressive trends in approach and methodology
have, as a rule, been pursued by scholars of
‘Occidental’ disciplines: text-criticism with scholars in
Romance, Biblical and Classical Studies at the forefront;
codicology, which has evolved into ‘manuscript archaeology’
under the impulse of Latin and Greek manuscript
studies; digital philology, which has evolved particularly
rapidly in the Classical and Medieval European fields.
As for Oriental studies, the development has been
uneven, leading to varying research standards and practices
in different regional sub-branches. The application
to Oriental studies of what has been recently achieved
in Classical and Medieval philology, particularly insofar
as the application of computational tools to the philological
problems is concerned, is in its early stages.
The benefits so far have affected those fields that have
a closer relationship with Biblical Studies (e.g., the edition
of the Syriac Peshitta), while for other languages
and cultures the discourse is, with a few exceptions, in
its initial phase.
The ESF Research Networking Programme Comparative
Oriental Manuscript Studies (COMSt) brings
together scholars from different disciplines across Europe
to compare experiences and research results in the
history of written civilisation, manuscript description/
cataloguing, textual and material analysis, and manuscript
preservation, conservation and restoration. In the
process of networking it will be possible to compare the
methods used and, eventually, elaborate unified approaches
to manuscript studies for Oriental cultures,
using the achievements of non-Oriental disciplines.
The aim of the COMSt programme is to enable academic
dialogue between scholars working in the same
sub-discipline of manuscript studies applied to another
language or region, as well as interdisciplinary communication.
It is expected to consolidate European research
traditions and stimulate further scholarly exchange in
the field of Oriental Manuscript Studies, with the focus
on the Mediterranean and North African cultural areas,
thereby building up a long-lasting and efficient network
that will continue to bear fruit beyond the end date of the
current Research Networking Programme.
The running period of the ESF COMSt Research
Networking Programme is five years, from June 2009
to May 2014.
Introduction Aims and Objectives
The ESF Research Networking Programme COMSt aims
to facilitate cross-cultural academic dialogue and active
exchange in the field of Oriental Manuscript Studies with
the focus on the Mediterranean and North African cultural
areas. The first ever attempt at European-level coordination
of its kind, COMSt aims to establish a standard
methodology for Oriental Manuscript Studies, too often
confined to a narrow sectorial and regional dimension.
It is also expected to make scholars more sensitive to
the neighbouring fields and enable teamwork on regional
and thematic levels.
The COMSt programme will give researchers the
possibility to merge and re-evaluate results achieved in
individual and national-scale research projects, often unknown
to those beyond the borders of a single country or
discipline. Many spheres of Oriental Manuscript Studies
are similar for different language/cultural areas, and the
compatibility of methodology as well as the applicability
of methods developed for Occidental manuscripts will
be established. Relevant efforts have been dedicated to
cataloguing, preservation and critical analysis of Oriental
manuscripts, particularly those in the Near Eastern and
North-east African regions, given the conditions under
which the documents are often stored. The criteria for
when and how a manuscript should be preserved and
protected will be discussed in the course of the COMSt
programme. Digital recording is in many cases the only
guarantee for survival; and the efforts for digitisation of
Oriental manuscripts in Europe will be wherever possible
centralised and coordinated by the COMSt programme
members. Not only will this for the first time facilitate exchange
between the representatives of different regional
fields of specialisation on a common methodological
basis (for example, codicologists working with Coptic
texts will meet those specialising in Syriac and compare
their achievements), it will also connect those working
independently in different subfields of manuscript studies
(for example, specialists in restoration will meet philologists
familiar with the content and the textual value of
manuscripts, digital philologists able to make use of
the connection between a deeply encoded edition and
digital images of the relevant manuscript sources). In the
course of cross-disciplinary cooperation, similarities and
differences between different Oriental written cultures
and the study of them will be revealed.
4 | COMSt
At the time of its launching, the COMSt programme includes
scholars from thirteen European countries who
are organised into five teams, each focusing on one of
the following areas of manuscript studies: 1) Material
aspects: codicology, palaeography; 2) Manuscripts as
text witnesses: philology as text criticism; 3) Digital philology:
text recognition, encoding, electronic editing; 4)
Manuscript cataloguing; 5) Manuscript preservation:
conservation, restoration, preservation, digitisation. Each
team will unite researchers working on different ancient
Oriental written cultures, mainly Arabic, Coptic, Aramaic
and Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Georgian, Byzantine
Greek, etc. Teams will organise regular workshops devoted
to specific aspects of these topics and eventually
contribute to the creation of a joint digital resource and
a methodological textbook. Interdisciplinary team meetings,
bringing together scholars working in different
COMSt teams but on the same language material, will
enrich the ensuing debate. The COMSt programme will
also invite scholars from outside the programme to join
in the virtual discussion.
Team 1: Material aspects: codicology,
Team 1 will deal in the first place with codicology, or the
archaeology of the book, and with palaeography, or the
history of scripts and writing practices. Whilst codicology
involves the study of the material and physical history of
codices and, in more practical terms, the study of codex
production in all relevant contexts, including attempts to
identify scriptoria, modalities of circulation, economic
aspects, etc., palaeography deals with the peculiarities
of writing, its general development and dating, as well
as the social aspects involved in the practice of writing.
The points of discussion will range from the state of
research in different regional fields to material carriers
(parchment, paper), physical shape (scroll, codex),
indigenous vs. imported materials, etc.
The team will work on all aspects of manuscript
preparation, from the chemical or physical preparation
of parchment and paper to writing materials and tools
and binding techniques, with particular attention to comparing
approaches and the state of knowledge about
writing techniques and traditions, scriptoria, schooling
and the social role of scribes and calligraphers.
Since the issues of manuscript illumination techniques
and models, periodisation and interpretation of
images and symbols, the personality and social role
of the illustrator, canon and artistic freedom are, in the
Oriental context, the subject of art history, art historians
will be invited to team workshops.
Team leader: Marilena Maniaci, Università degli studi
di Cassino, Dipartimento di Filologia e storia.
Team 2: Manuscripts as text witnesses:
philology as text criticism
Team 2 is expected to work on a unified approach to
manuscripts as text carriers. It will unite scholars focusing
on the philology of different Oriental traditions. The
main goal of text criticism is to establish the original
reading of texts and their transmission history, by comparing
and analysing their different witnesses, also with
the consideration that material philology can establish
physical relationships between them. While the disciplines
of team 1 can help to establish criteria for dating
manuscripts, text criticism is the procedure for establishing
the correct form of a text at a given stage of its
textual history, and as such is an essential part of literary
history and historical studies, as well as constituting a
major chapter in the history of culture and humanities.
The philology of documentary texts, dealing with official
records, charters and grants, is a specialised form of
Teams and Topics
Every Person Shall Say by Shenoute, with an illumination showing
Shenoute. White Monastery, Egypt, parchment, 10th or 11th century.
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Manuscrits Orientaux,
Copte 1305, fol. 128v.
COMSt | 5
text criticism aimed at establishing the authenticity and
historical significance of documents, but on the basis
of common methodology. Team 2 will work towards
establishing cross-cultural standards for critical text
editions. It will collaborate with team 3 on introducing
computer-supported technologies in philological work
and with team 4 on unifying the approach to manuscript
cataloguing incorporating the description of texts.
Team leader: Johannes den Heijer, Faculty of
Humanities, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.
Team 3: Digital philology: text recognition,
encoding, editing
Team 3 will deal with a field intrinsically connected with
that of team 2 as it will discuss and refine the methods
and technical means of digital philology: the state of
research; possibilities and difficulties of manuscript digitisation;
automatic text recognition; text comparisons;
peculiarities for Oriental manuscript traditions; script
recognition software and critical text editions software.
Means for public access to digitised forms will be explored.
Since the practical outcome of team 3’s activities
is of paramount practical importance for team 2, both
groups will work in close cooperation. On the decision
of the team leaders the teams may conduct their annual
workshops together. In cooperation with team 4, open
source manuscript databases and on-line catalogues
will be implemented.
Team leader: Jost Gippert, Dept. of Comparative
Linguistics, Frankfurt University, Germany.
Team 4: Manuscript cataloguing
Team 4 will, with the methodological and technical support
of teams 1, 2, and 3, concentrate on cataloguing
issues. Recently numerous cataloguing activities have
been underway in Europe, with the aim of making information
available to a broad circle of users and scholars
working in different areas of cultural, religious and literary
studies (e.g., Witkam 1989; Six 1989, 1994; Layton
1987; Kévorkian – Ter-Stépanian 1998; Störk 1995, 1996;
Wagner 1997). A comparison of both older and more
recent catalogues reveals large discrepancies in the
criteria used for both physical and content descriptions
of manuscripts. The cataloguers as specialists in the
language and culture of the texts of the manuscripts
seldom have training in standard codicological cataloguing
procedure, an average level of which is not simple
to define. It is important to guarantee, however, that all
documents are described according to a unified standard
and provide the maximum of information in brief on
Persian poetry by Abuˉ Abdallaˉ h
Mušarraf al-D ıˉn b. Mus· lih· al-Dıˉn,
known as Sa d ıˉ (d. 691 H.
[1292 CE]). Paper, 17th century.
Leipzig University Library,
Manuscript or. 325, fols. 40v-41r.
6 | COMSt
shape, binding, materials used, dimensions, contents,
incipits, marginalia, ornaments and illuminations, as
well as available bibliography and the place of the codex
in previous studies, text editions and information
on availability and accessibility (in digital or microfilm
form). Team 4 will establish the necessary elements of
description and contribute to the creation of electronic
Team leader: Witold Witakowski, Dept. of Linguistics
and Philology, Uppsala University, Sweden.
Team 5: Manuscript preservation:
conservation, restoration, preservation,
Team 5 will deal with manuscript preservation. Exchange
and research will concentrate on the following factors: the
physical state of manuscripts in different cultural regions
and in libraries; the conditions of storage; the steps to be
taken towards the preservation of unique cultural heritage;
educational programmes for librarians; cooperation
with international cultural organisations (supra-regional
research centres, UNESCO, etc.) and running projects
Teams and Topics
(Saint Catherine’s Library Conservation Project, etc.).
Starting from the codicological base provided by team 1
and the theory of manuscript preparation, possibilities for
region-specific manuscript restoration will be explored.
In close cooperation with team 3, criteria for digitisation
– i.e. digital preservation – of manuscripts will be established.
The work will also move towards establishing
which small forgotten European manuscript collections
might need adequate attention and/or restoration. Of
foremost importance will be coordination, mainly with
respect to the exchange of information and experience
regarding activities in the field.
Team leader: Stéphane Ipert, Centre de Conservation
du Livre, Arles, France. Email:
Gospel book of the church of Gännätä Maryam, Ethiopia. Canon tables. Parchment, ca. 1500, fols. 13v-14r.
Photo courtesy of Michael Gervers
COMSt | 7
ESF Research Networking Programmes are principally
funded by the Foundation’s Member Organisations on
an à la carte basis. COMSt is supported by:
• Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek —
Vlaanderen (FWO)
Research Foundation Flanders, Belgium
• Ίδρυμα Προώθησης Έρευνας (RPF)
Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation, Cyprus
• Forsknings- og Innovationsstyrelsen (FIST)
Danish Agency for Science, Technology and
Innovation, Denmark
• Centre national de la recherche scientifique
(CNRS) / Institut des Sciences Humaines
et Sociales (ISHS)
National Centre for Scientific Research, France
• Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
German Research Foundation, Germany
• Universität Hamburg
University of Hamburg, Germany
• Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk
Onderzoek (NWO)
Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research,
The Netherlands
• Norges Forskningsråd
Research Council of Norway, Norway
• Agentúra na podporu výskumu a vývoja (APVV)
Slovak Research and Development Agency, Slovak
• Vetenskapsrådet (VR)
Swedish Research Council, Sweden
• Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (SNF)
Swiss National Science Foundation, Switzerland
Workshops and conferences
The COMSt activities will cover a period of five years and
involve a series of meetings, workshops and conferences
at different levels.
Each year, a cross-team meeting is planned. The
first, ‘Current issues of Comparative Oriental Manuscript
Studies’, will take place in Hamburg from 1 to 3 December
2009. It will provide an opportunity to identify specific
topics for the teams to focus their work in the coming
During the period of COMSt activity, each team will
meet at least once a year for a workshop. The specific
workshop topics will be identified in the course of the
At the end of the fifth year, a closing conference will
mark the completion of the programme, summarising
the results and providing impetus for further work.
The COMSt programme will also enable participants
to visit each others’ facilities on a short-term basis for
lecturing and research, also with the aim of gaining a
better understanding of possible infrastructures and
procedures. Specialists from outside the programme
may also be invited by the programme participants if
external expertise is needed.
A key objective is the publication of a comprehensive
textbook for Oriental Manuscript Studies which will reflect
on the state of research and stipulate the standards
elaborated by the RNP to be followed by all researchers
working in the field. The textbook will be available both
in print and in electronic form to enhance access and
In addition, a yearly Newsletter will be published to
disseminate interim research results; a database for
methods and techniques of manuscript studies will be
designed; and the programme website will provide updated
information about the progress of COMSt as well
as about ongoing research in all fields involved.
Print run: 1 500 – September 2009
1 quai Lezay-Marnésia | BP 90015
67080 Strasbourg cedex | France
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 76 71 00 | Fax: +33 (0)3 88 37 05 32
COMSt Steering Committee
Professor Siegbert Uhlig (Chair)
Universität Hamburg
Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1
20146 Hamburg • Germany
Tel: +49 40 42838 7777
Professor Ewa Balicka-Witakowska
Uppsala Universitet
Institutionen för lingvistik och filologi
Box 635
75126 Uppsala • Sweden
Tel: +46 18 471 68 46
Email: Ewa.Balicka-Witakowska@
Professor Alessandro Bausi
Universität Hamburg
Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1
20146 Hamburg • Germany
Tel: +49 40 42838 4870
Professor Zuzana Gazakova
Comenius University
Faculty of Philosophy
Bratislava • Slovak Republic
Professor Charles Genequand
Université de Genève
1211 Genève 4 • Switzerland
Professor Ingvild Gilhus
University of Bergen
Department of Archaeology, History,
Cultural Studies and Religion
Institute of Classics, Russian and
the History of Religions (IKRR)
Bergen • Norway
Tel: +47 55 58 24 48
Professor Caroline Macé
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Greek Studies
Blijde-Inkomstraat 21
3000 Leuven • Belgium
Tel: +32 16 32 50 81
Professor Stig Rasmussen
Det Kongelige Bibliotek
Specialsamlinger – Orientalsk og
Judaistisk Afdeling
PO Box 2149
1016 København K • Denmark
Tel: +45 3347 4890
Professor Jan Just Witkam
Leiden University
Faculteit der Letteren
Talen en culturen van het Midden
Postbus 9500
2300 RA Leiden • The Netherlands
Tel: +31 71 52728 68
Professor Malachi Beit-Arié
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
PO Box 39105
Jerusalem 91390 • Israel
Tel: +972 2 619270
Programme Coordinator
Ms. Evgenia Sokolinskaia
Universität Hamburg
Asien-Afrika Institut
Forschungsstelle Äthiopistik
Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1
20146 Hamburg • Germany
Tel: +49 40 42838 77 77
ESF Liaison
Dr. Arianna Ciula
Ms. Madelise Blumenroeder
Humanities Unit
European Science Foundation
1 quai Lezay-Marnésia
BP 90015
67080 Strasbourg cedex • France
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 76 71 51
Fax: +33 (0)3 88 37 05 32
For the latest information on this
Research Networking Programme
consult the COMSt website:

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