Introduction to Arabic Manuscript Studies Workshop

4th April 2016 to 8th April 2016
The IIS and ISMC Library
210 Euston Road
United Kingdom

The IIS-ISMC Joint Library in Central London warmly invites applications for a five-day workshop entitled Introduction to Arabic Manuscript Studies, led by world expert on Islamic manuscripts Adam Gacek.

The primary focus of the workshop is to provide an overview of writing supports and structures of Islamic manuscripts, bookbinding and decoration, scripts, as well as composition and transmission of texts. The last day will feature a hands-on session where participants will be able to examine rare manuscripts from the Institutes’ collections under the supervision of the instructors.

The workshop is open to suitably qualified academics, scholars and students.  

The deadline for applications is March 4, 2016.

The fee for the five-day workshop is £500, with an early bird discount of £50 for bookings received by Friday 29 February 2016.

Applicants should email Walid Ghali at with their affiliation and contact details.  Payment will be required by bank transfer on successful registration.




Workshop Schedule


Monday 4 April


Tuesday 5 April

Wednesday 6 April


Thursday 7 April


Friday 8 April













All-day hands-on sessions


Overview of the manuscript age and the world of the scribe


Writing surfaces

(papyrus, parchment, paper)

The textblock and its make-up

(sheet, folio, bifolio, quire)


The text (composition), its arrangement and presentation

Scripts and hands (introduction to palaeography)



Painted decoration (illumination) and bookbinding (structure and decoration)


History of manuscripts (ownership statements and seal impressions;

reading notes, etc.)


Writing implements (pens, inks, etc.)


Alpha-numerical and numerical systems


The colophon; dates and dating


Transmission of texts (collation, corrections, certificates, glosses)



Manuscripts and popular culture (magic and superstition)


Forgeries and questionable assertions






Adam Gacek

A retired Faculty Lecturer and former Head of the Islamic Studies Library, McGill University, Adam Gacek is the author of a sizeable corpus of publications on Islamic manuscripts, including The Arabic Manuscript Tradition: a Glossary of Technical Terms and Bibliography (2001, 2008 - Supplement),  and Arabic Manuscripts: a Vademecum for Readers (2009).