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Middle East and Islamic Studies  

Last Updated: Nov 12, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Lydia Wright
Subject Specialist (Middle Eastern & Islamic Collections)
tel: +44 (0)1865 287289

Alasdair Watson (Middle Eastern & Islamic Manuscripts)
tel: +44 (0)1865 279984


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Collection overview

The languages covered include Arabic, Persian and the Iranian languages of Central Asia, Turkish and the Turkic languages of Central Asia, Caucasian languages such as Armenian and Georgian, and other Asiatic languages. The Bodleian Library has extensive holdings in many of these languages and a substantial collection of western-language materials on the Near and Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It also has a particularly strong collection of material relating to the religion and civilization of Islam.

Separate information is available on the Hebraica, Judaica and Semitic collections.

The Bodleian has an important collection of Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts, with particular strengths in fields such as Arabic science, mathematics and medicine and Persian illuminated and illustrated manuscripts. The Armenian manuscripts and the Wardrop collection relating to Georgia are also important resources. More details of these holdings can be found on the Special Collections web pages. The Middle East Centre Archive at St Antony’s College holds papers of individuals and organisations who were active in the Middle East from 1800.

The Library acquires a wide range of books and serials in European languages on most aspects of the history and cultures of the Near and Middle East. In developing the modern printed collections in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, emphasis has been placed on the traditional areas of Islamic learning, though literary works by established modern authors are also collected.   The acquisition of modern materials published in and relating to the Caucasus and Central Asia has been somewhat sporadic. Nonetheless, the collections represent a useful resource for research in the humanities and social sciences, with significant holdings in the vernacular languages of these regions.


Libraries and Reading Rooms: Principal collections

Teaching and research collections on the Middle East are held primarily by the Bodleian Library and by the Oriental Institute Library for Arabic, Persian, Turkish and classical Islam, the Caucasus and Central Asia, complemented by  the Middle East Centre Library at St Antony’s College covering Modern Middle Eastern Studies.

Arabic and European language holdings may be consulted in the Oriental Institute, where there is an open-shelf collection of reference works and journals recently expanded to incorporate material from the former New Bodleian Reading Room which has now closed. These holdings may also be consulted in the other reading rooms of the Bodleian Libraries.

Persian and Turkish printed books and the Modern Arabic Literature collection are located in the bookstack of the Oriental Institute Library.

Teaching and research materials relating to the art and archaeology of the Near and Middle East are kept in the Eastern Art collection in the Sackler Library, and may not be borrowed.

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, a Recognised Independent Centre of the University, is developing a library to support its research activities. Wadham College Library also has a good collection of Persian material, as well as holdings in Armenian.

Most western-language books can be found on SOLO. The same applies to books printed in Arabic, Persian and Turkish whose records appear in transliterated form.

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