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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 Library acquires a wide range of books and serials in vernacular and 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.

Middle East and Islamic Special 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 and on the Middle East Oriental Manuscripts & Rare Books LibGuide. The Middle East Centre Archive at St Antony’s College holds papers of individuals and organizations who were active in the Middle East from 1800.

Most Middle East and Islamic special collections material can be found via the online catalogue:

Subject Librarian Contact

Lydia Wright's picture
Lydia Wright
Bodleian Oriental Institute Library,
Oriental Institute,
Pusey Lane,
+44 (0)1865 278204

Special Collections Contact

Alasdair Watson

Bahari Curator of Persian Collections (Middle Eastern & Islamic Manuscripts)
tel: +44 (0)1865 279984

Collection Policy