Intensive Islamic Codicology Short Course 2016

3-7 October 2016
University of Cambridge

The Islamic Manuscript Association, together with the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation, Cambridge University Library, the Centre of Islamic Studies and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, and Pembroke College, held the tenth annual Introduction to Islamic Codicology short course at the University of Cambridge from 3-7 October 2016.

The Centre of Islamic Studies granted Codicology Scholarship to Dr Sabiha Göloğlu to support her attendance at the Intensive Introduction to Islamic Codicology.

Report by Dr Sabiha Göloğlu
Koç University, Turkey

I would like to thank HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge for its generous scholarship that supported my attendance at the Intensive Introduction to Islamic Codicology. I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Archaeology and History of Art at Koç University, Istanbul. In my dissertation, I focus on “Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Representations of the Islamic Pilgrimage Sites in Europe and the Ottoman Empire.” I have applied for the Islamic Manuscript Association’s intensive course on codicology, because the majority of my source material comes from illustrated manuscripts. However, this introductory course went beyond my expectations and I benefitted immensely from the lectures as well as the hands-on sessions.

Professor François Déroche and Nuria Martínez de Castilla Muñoz held very fruitful theory and practice sessions, in which I have learned from both the instructors and the participants. The instructors dealt with different aspects of codices such as quires, paper and parchment, binding, and book hands based on a wide range of examples from various periods and geographies. The hands-on sessions were possible with Islamic manuscripts from Cambridge University Library. In groups of two or three, we had the chance to work on a number of manuscripts to understand their structure, components, and possible origin. From the first day onwards, the instructors guided us during the hands-on sessions, patiently answered all our questions, and brought us to a point where we could examine a codex’s certain aspects and catalogue them. The lectures and the hands-on sessions were well-proportioned in terms of theory and practice between mornings and afternoons. During coffee and lunch breaks, I got to meet other participants from different disciplines and institutions, and became familiar with their work. Furthermore, when working as a group and listening to other groups’ presentations, I was able to learn from participants’ interdisciplinary expertise.

Throughout the course, I have become accustomed to a large array of manuscripts that helped me identify and evaluate some of my source material. I was able to ask specific questions to the instructors during the breaks and received fulfilling answers in return. The instructors strongly emphasized being skeptical towards dating and paleography of book hands, and being meticulous about quires and watermarks. Along these lines, I have reviewed my initial findings and altered my approach to manuscripts towards a more detailed study. Overall, I have found the course extremely useful for my dissertation and professional development.