Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean

A critical guide to electronic resources


- 1st century CE - present

Online resources

Web sites of general interest

  1. Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies
    Online journal devoted to the Syriac tradition, published by Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute.
  2. Digital Journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies
    Online journal of the Canadian Society for Syriac Studies
  3. The Syriac Reference Portal
    Portal for the study of Syriac literature, culture, and history, which aims at documenting and preserving the Syriac cultural heritage. It is intended to be a reference hub for digital publications, among which an index of authors of Syriac literature and a geographic dictionary of relevant places stand out.
  4. The Syriac Gazzetteer
    This site, which is part of the project, allows the user to locate on a map many sites mentioned in the entire corpus of Syriac literature, starting from a geographical index. Each site has a specific bibliography.
  5. The Syriac Biographical Dictionary (SBD)
    Multi-volume index of prominent persons in Syriac culture and history (Vol I: Qadishe: A Guide to the Syriac Saints, catalogue of saints and persons venerated as such in the Syriac tradition; Vol II: A Guide to Syriac Authors, catalogue of authors who wrote in Syriac or had an influence on Syriac literature; Vol III: Miscellaneous Syriac Persons; Vol IV: Anonymous Syriac Persons).
  6. The New Handbook of Syriac Literature (NHSL)
    Multi-volume guide to the works of Syriac literature (vol I: The Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca Electronica-BHSE, catalogue of hagiographical texts)
  7. The Gateway to the Syriac Saints
    Unified database on Qadishe: A Guide to the Syriac Saints and on Bibliotheca Hagiographica Syriaca Electronica (BHSE).
  8. Works Cited
    Index of the credited bibliographic references for the data published in the portal
  9. e-GEDSH
    Online version of the Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of Syriac Heritage, an extensive Syriacistic encyclopedia, originally published in paper by Gorgias Press in 2011.
  10. Encylopædia Iranica online (“Syriac language”)
    Remarkable resource which includes, among others, entries related to the contacts between Syriac and Persian cultures within the Sasanian empire (transmission of the Greek heritage and the translation movement, bilingualism and linguistic interference phenomena).
  11. De la Mediterranée à la Chine et l'Inde. Les multiples vies de l'écriture syriaque
    A presentation of the Syriac writing system and its history, held at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, by one of its leading scholars, Françoise Briquel-Chatonnet, a semitist, a French academic and a researcher at the French CNRS. Françoise Briquel-Chatonnet is also the author of the catalogue of a significative part of the Syriac manuscripts collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale.

Online documents

  1. Dukhrana Biblical Research
    Web site by Lars J. Lindgren, containing different tools to aid in the study of Peshitta, such as compared searches verse by verse (only for the NT) with a number of different versions (Greek, Latin, a few in English). It also provides the Multiple Lexicon, with simultaneous lexical search capabilities in some of the most important Syriac dictionaries (Payne Smith, Compendious Payne Smith, Brockelmann, Costaz), digitalized for this purpose.
  2. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (CAL)
    Aramaic dictionary by Stephen A. Kaufman together with an international team of scholars. The CAL includes all the variations of ancient Aramaic, from the most ancient written examples (9th century A.D.) till the 13th century; the underlying database is based not only on dictionaries but also on a systematic and comprehensive examination of existing literature.
  3. Manuscript Or. 51 (=194)
    Digital facsimile of the manuscript Or. 51 (=194) Title: bāb muʿarifat alkalimāt allatī min ʾismi wa-faʿli (arabo garšuni)/ktābā ba-bnāt qālē mšaḥelpānāyāt qeryānā b-heggānē (Syriac).
  4. International Dunhuang Project (IDP)
    Digitalized items from the collection of Syriac manuscripts from Turfan in the Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften at Berlin.
  5. International Dunhuang Project (IDP)
    Digitalized items from the collection of Sogdian manuscripts from Turfan in the Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften at Berlin.

Institutions, centers for study and research

  1. Société d'études syriaques
    Site of the French association of Syriac studies (Paris).
  2. The Canadian Society for Syriac Studies
    Site of the Canadian Society of Syriac Studies (Toronto).
  3. Syriaca: Studi siriaci in Italia
    Page Facebook de l’Association italienne d’Études syriaques (Rome).
  4. Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute
    Beth Mardutho, founded as ‘The Syriac Computing Institute’ (SyrCOM) by George A. Kiraz in 1992, is an institution which seeks to promote the study of Syriac, through online and in situ language courses and many electronic resources, and to preserve the Syriac heritage.
  5. Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML)
    Site of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN). The organization aims at the digitalisation of the handwritten cultural heritage of various communities in the world. HMML hosts an archive with a large number of reproductions of manuscripts (in microfilm and/or digital) whose originals are located in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and they are going to be catalogued and freely accessible in the “Reading Room”. The site also includes an electronic resource for the study of Syriac paleography, with many annotated examples of the different writing styles.
  6. Simtho: The Syriac Thesaurus
    Database with texts from Syriac literature which allows users to perform searches on the location and frequency of certain occurrences and to save the search results in two different formats (txt and xml). It is also possible to perform complex searches with regular expressions and to filter the data (search by authors, by date of composition, by literary genre, etc.).
  7. The Syriac Electronic Data Research Archive (SEDRA IV)
    Linguistic and literary relational database on the Syriac language. It allows lexical searches inside some of the main lexica and provides useful tables with paradigms of verbs and a direct link to the search engine results page of the thesaurus Simtho.
  8. Qoruyo: Models for Automatic Transcription of Manuscripts
    A Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute project, leading to the creation of three Transkribus models (for Estrangelo, Eastern Syriac and Serto) for a highly accurate automatic transcription of manuscripts in Syriac.
  9. Digital Analysis of Syriac Handwriting (DASH)
    The project led by Michael Penn (Principal Investigator) at Stanford University has developed a web application built on a corpus of dated Syriac manuscripts that allows scholars to create custom paleographic tables that can be shared through their URLs.
  10. Florilegia Syriaca (FLOS)
    FLOS is an ERC project led by Emiliano Fiori (Principal Investigator) at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice, offering native digital editions of a number of patristic florilegia contained in Syriac manuscripts held at the British Library and dating back to the 8th-10th century.
    HUNAYNNET is an ERC project led by Grigory Kessel (Principal Investigator) at the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Vienna), that has produced an annotated trilingual digital corpus with translations in Syriac and in Arabic of texts from classical Greek scientific and philosophic literature .

Academic materials

  1. Lexicity
    Site providing a number of online resources (dictionaries, grammars, paradigms, texts) for the study of ancient languages, with sections dealing with Aramaic and Syriac.


  1. An Aramaic Inscription from Hatra
    Example of Aramaic inscription from Hatra, supplied by Klaus Beyer (Universität Heidelberg).
  2. Palmyrene alphabet
    Spanish-language site where, along with other materials, the four inscriptions in which Syriac and Palmyrene are nearly indistinguishable can be found: the el-Mal inscription, the one from Dura-Europos from 32 BC, the inscription from Queen Sadan and that of Amassamses
  3. Stele nestoriana di Xi'An, Cina
    The black marble stele presents a bilingual inscription (Syriac and Chinese) proving the Christian presence (Nestorian Church) in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907). The stele dates back to 781; it was discovered in Chang'an in 1623 by Jesuit missionaries and it is now kept in the Beilin museum (“stele forest”) in Xi'An.
  4. Mosaic with Orpheus taming wild animals
    The mosaic, dating back to 194, was purchased at a Christie’s antiquity auction in 1999, then donated to the Dallas Museum of Arts (DMA), that gave it back to the legal owner after a formal return request. The marble artifact (approx. 152cm x 164cm) was in fact proved by scholars to be part of a family tomb carved into the rock in the Kalkan district at Şanlıurfa. The two-part inscription mentions both the name of the commissioner (Pāpā) and the name of the artist (Barsāged).
  5. Magical cups in the British Museum
    A little collection of Syriac magical cups of Iraqi provenance, dating back to the 6th-8th century.
  6. Syriac inscription from al-Qusur
    This brief inscription, only three letters long,ܦ ܣܒ (p sb), was discovered in 2014 in Kuwait, dates back to the 7th-9th century and is the most ancient example in the Persian Gulf of a rare inscription in Syriac on an amphora. Notwithstanding its incompleteness, the al-Qusur inscription draws attention to the use of Syriac in non-religious contexts.


  1. Digital Syriac Corpus (DSC)
    Open access digital archive with texts in classic Syriac, mostly transcribed from pre-existing editions in print and XML encoded, according to the TEI standard. All the documents in the DSC are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license and can be reused in the TXT and TEI text formats.
  2. BYU-CUA Syriac Studies Reference Library
    Joint digital library (Brigham Young University and Catholic University of America) housing an important selection of rare or even out of print texts, among which catalogues of manuscripts, dictionaries, grammars, print editions of 18th, 19th and 20th century Syriac texts from the book heritage of the Semitics/ICOR Library (CUA). The texts are available online and downloadable in pdf.
  3. Internet Archive
    Digital library including primary sources in Syriac and texts of critical literature, made available in pdf by different institutions. The Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (Brigham Young University) made some manuscripts from the Syrian Catholic church of Saint Thomas in Mosul and from the monastery of Saint Mark in Jerusalem available; the collection eBethArké: The Syriac Digital Library, is edited by Beth Mardutho: the Syriac Institute and it contains a large number of otherwise unavailable old and new titles in print on Syrian language and history.
  4. Bibliothek Goussen (“Syrische Abteilung”)
    Digital library of the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek in Bonn, with a large catalogue of ancient texts with Syriacistic topics, including very rare ones.


  1. Meltho Fonts
    Font package for Syriac, freely downloadable from the site

Collections of texts and digital libraries

  1. Syriac Studies Reference Library (1)
    An important selection of ancient secondary literature and ancient sources, put on line by Brigham Young University, Utah, and Catholic University of America.
  2. Digital Library of the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana
    The digital library of the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana at the moment offers a digital facsimile of the two-volume manuscript (ms. B 21 inf. and ms. B 21 inf. bis ), dating around 6th century, which includes texts from the Peshitta Old Testament and is conceptually considered as a part of the so-called “Codex Ambrosianus”. High-resolution images are shared through the interoperability framework IIIF.
  3. DigiVatLib (DVL)
    The digital library of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, which includes a selection of manuscripts belonging to the Vatican Syriac and Borgia Funds, a good number of which are available in high-resolution images shared through the interoperability framework IIIF.
  4. Gallica-Bibliothèque numérique
    The digital library of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France includes many of the first volumes of the Patrologia Orientalis - Parisian collection of Eastern Christian literature initiated at the beginning of the 20th century - and also a selection of digitalized Syriac manuscripts from the collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale.
  5. Digitalisierte Sammlungen der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin
    Digital library with a wide selection of Syriac manuscripts from the Sachau collection.
  6. Yale University Library Digital Collections
    Digital library with a selection of Syriac manuscripts digitalized according to the IIIF standard, most of which are available with no restrictions.
  7. Harvard Library Digital Collection
    Digital collection of the Houghton Library with a few Syriac manuscripts.


  1. Google Libri-Acta Iranica: Bio-Bibliographies de 134 savants
    Bio-bibliographic profile of Jean-Maurice Fiey, historian of the Eastern Syriac church.
  2. Pier Giorgio Borbone
    Personal page of Professor Pier Giorgio Borbone, who is currently engaged in the study of the evidence of a Syriac presence in Central Asia.
  3. Alain Desreumaux page of Alain Desreumaux (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).
  4. Françoise Briquel Chatonnet page of Françoise Briquel Chatonnet (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).
  5. HMMLOrientalia - Blog by Adam McCollum
    Blog (no longer updated) created by the linguist Adam C. Bremer-McCollum during his assignment as a cataloguer in the Eastern manuscripts section of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library. It contains many contributions on Syriac literature and introductions to colophons and marginalia of a few Syriac manuscripts.
  6. Syriaca senza frontiere
    Blog (no longer updated) of the linguist Margherita Farina (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), which defines itself as "a semi-serious site for Syriacists and similar". It provides a choice of categorized links to other sites, often - but not only - of Syriac interest, with brief reviews of the material presented in the blog.
  7. Hugoye-list
    Academic mailing list on Syriac studies, connected to the online journal Hugoye and run by Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute.


  1. An annotated bibliography of Syriac resources online
    Annotated bibliography of a large number of online resources useful for the study of Syriac, with links both to the catalogues of the libraries owning Syriac manuscript collections and to bibliographic lecture notes, on various topics, by Sebastian P. Brock.
  2. A Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity
    A nearly-comprehensive bibliography of the primary sources and of the secondary literature for Syriac studies. An invaluable tool created by Sergey Minov (Lomonosov Moscow University) currently accessible on a temporary basis on Zotero.