Armenian manuscripts

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Armenia has a great heritage of manuscripts. Manuscript art is one of the most unique examples of Armenias medieval culture. Manuscript art which was portable enough to be smuggled out of harms way, has left the world a legacy of some 30,000 known Armenian manuscripts.

Most of the history of the Armenian people is concentrated in the Matenadaran – the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. Matenadaran boasts of having the worlds largest collection of ancient manuscripts. More than 16 thousand manuscripts about the centuries-old history of the Armenian nation, art, literature and natural sciences are stored and studied in the Matenadaran. These are the works of more than 80 Armenian chroniclers of the 10th and 18th centuries and their contemporaries, as well as translations of the works of outstanding scientists and great thinkers of antiquity and middle ages. Some unique and ancient copies of manuscripts, the originals of which have irrevocably been lost, are also stored here and today people have the possibility to see them only in the Armenian translations.

The Matenadaran is of special value also as an art museum, where a unique collection of miniatures and other kinds of arts and crafts connected with manuscripts is kept: samples of fabrics, stamping on leather and jewelry. Special repositories of manuscripts, restoration shops and laboratories are on the ground floor of the Matenadaran, while the exhibition halls, the research laboratories, the reading hall and the catalogs are located on the upper floors.

At the Matenadaran are preserved manuscripts of the 5-18 centuries which are unique collection of incunabula and Armenian books printed in the 16-18 centuries, works of ancient and medieval historians, writers, philosophers, mathematicians, geographers, doctors, translations of scientific work of ancient Greek, Syrian, Arabic and Latin academics including series of works lost in their original languages. At the Matenadaran exhibits the best samples of ancient Armenian written language and miniatures.