Monday, December 21, 2009

Harvard University Library Open Collections Program

[First posted June 8, 2009; I slamic Heritage Project addedDecember 21, 2009]

Through its Open Collections Program, the Harvard University Library is presenting new, virtual collections of thematically linked material selected from numerous Harvard repositories. For the study of the ancient world, the Expeditions and Discoveries: Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age provides access to field notes, letters, maps, photographs, and published materials relating to a range of worldwide expeditions from 1626 to 1953.

Archaeological projects in Expeditions and Discoveries are
  • Carnegie Institution/Peabody Museum Expeditions to Kaminaljuyú, Guatemala, 1935–1953
    Between 1935 and 1953, the Carnegie Institution of Washington excavated Kaminaljuyú and established it as one the most significant archaeological Pre-Columbian sites in Mesoamerica. Kaminaljuyú (meaning, in the Quiché language, "Hills of the Dead") grew from an agricultural community (ca. 2500 BCE) in the central highlands of Guatemala to become a large ceremonial site and political Maya capital that flourished until about 800 CE.

  • Harvard Expedition to Samaria, 1908–1910
    Harvard’s Committee on Exploration in the Orient designated the American archaeologist George A. Reisner to direct the University’s expedition to Samaria. With sponsorship from Jacob H. Schiff, the expedition was intended to excavate the site of Samaria (Sebaste), which was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Israel.

    Reisner located remains of the royal palace built by Omri and Ahab during the Israelite period, as well as remnants of buildings constructed during later periods of occupation by Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans. Noteworthy among the artifacts found were ostraca, or pottery fragments, depicting Hebrew-character inscriptions in carbon ink of Biblical names and memoranda of commercial shipments.
Islamic Heritage Project

Through the Islamic Heritage Project (IHP), Harvard University has cataloged, conserved, and digitized hundreds of Islamic manuscripts, maps, and published texts from Harvard’s renowned library and museum collections. These rare—and frequently unique—materials are now freely available to Internet users worldwide. IHP is made possible with the generous support of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.

For the IHP, Harvard’s Open Collections Program (OCP) has produced digital copies of over 260 manuscripts, 270 printed texts, and 50 maps, totaling over 145,000 pages—with more items to be added in coming months. Users can search or browse online materials that date from the 13th to the 20th centuries CE and represent many

  • regions, including Saudi Arabia, North Africa, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and South, Southeast, and Central Asia;
  • languages, primarily Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish; also Urdu, Chagatai, Malay, Gujarati, Indic languages, and several Western languages; and
  • subjects, including religious texts and commentaries; Sufism; history, geography, law, and the sciences (astronomy, astrology, mathematics, medicine); poetry and literature; rhetoric, logic, and philosophy; calligraphy, dictionaries and grammar, as well as biographies and autobiographical works.

Other collections represent botanical and zoological collecting expeditions.

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