A catalogue of Armenian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries

About us

The Collection

There are currently 140 Armenian manuscripts in the Bodleian Libraries. The earliest manuscript dates back to the 11th century, whilst the most recent one was composed in the early 20th century. Interest in Armenian culture and manuscripts goes back to the times of the foundation of the Bodleian Libraries with the first Armenian manuscripts entering the collection through the benefaction from Archbishop Laud (1573-1645). Throughout the centuries numerous manuscripts have been donated to or acquired by the library with a significant number of acquisitions dating to the late 19th century.

"Armenian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries" is a free online catalogue of manuscript descriptions. It is not a digital library but links are provided if digital copies exist online. As for the printed books in Armenian and about Armenia please refer to the Bodleian's SOLO online catalogue.

History & Methodology

This online catalogue has evolved from the following printed sources:

It is based on an open source TEI/XML metadata standard which incorporates established library standards for description (VIAF Name AuthorityLC Transliteration and LC Subject Headings) and also includes transliterations according to the "Hübschmann–Meillet–Benveniste" system widely used in academic circles throughout the world.

A large number of entries have been created using "legacy data", the intellectual content of predated or historic catalogues, hand-lists, and annotated card catalogues. Some records may, however, be the result of research carried out by contemporary librarians and academics through consultation of the physical work. Therefore, the level of codicological (physical descriptions of manuscripts) and bibliographic (content and references) detail varies and is changing over time as research proceeds.


The following scripts are found in manuscripts described in this catalogue:


Erkat‘agir (uncial/majuscule) is the oldest script of the lapidary inscriptions in Armenian, also preserved in the oldest surviving fragments of manuscripts from the 7th to 9th centuries. In addition, it is found in some complete codices from the 9th to the early 13th centuries, with occasional use after that. There are several types of erkat‘agir: ‘Mesropean’ believed to have been used by the creator of the Armenian alphabet St Mesrop Maštoc’ at the beginning of the 5th century, angular erkat‘agir, intermediate erkat‘agir, small erkat‘agir, and transitional erkat‘agir.

Source: Stone, Michael E., Dickran. Kouymjian, and Henning. Lehmann. Album of Armenian Paleography. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2002, p. 66.


Bolorgir (minuscule) was the precursor of modern Armenian type fonts and was very common especially from the 13th to 16th centuries, with its popularity waning only in the 19th century. The earliest samples of bolorgir come from as early as 7th century and were found in the Armenian papyrus and in graffiti inscriptions from the Holy Land.

Source: Stone, Album of Armenian Paleography, p. 69.


Nōtrgir (late minuscule) is widely attested in the documents produced at the court of the Armenian kings of Cilicia (1198-1375) and at the Armenian Catholicosate of Sis, though it might have originated earlier. It was the predominant script found in the books form 17th-18th centuries.

Source: Stone, Album of Armenian Paleography, pp. 73-75.


Šłagir (ligatured cursive) was first attested in late 17th century and is more commonly found in 19th-century manuscripts. It is the direct ancestor of the modern longhand script.

Source: Stone, Album of Armenian Paleography, pp. 73-75.


The first printed book in Armenian appeared in late 1512 in Venice. It was a collection of various religious, medical, and literary texts called “Urbat‘agirk‘" (The Book of Friday) edited by an Armenian cleric Yakob Mełapart (‘the Sinful’). The Armenian printing spread rapidly during the 16th-18th centuries with printing houses and small presses established and Armenian books published in cities such as Constantinople (1568), Rome (end of 16th century), Lviv (1616), New Julfa (1638), Livorno (1644), Amsterdam (ca 1660), Marseilles (1673), Madras (1772), Calcutta (1796), Vienna (1811), and so on.

Source: Išxanian, Ṙ. A. “Tpagrut‘iwn” (Printing). In Arevšatyan S. S., Barxudaryan, V. B., et al (eds.), Hay Žołovrdi Patmut‘iwn (History of Armenian People). Vol. 4. , Yerevan: Haykakan SSH GA Hratarakč‘ut‘yun, 1972, pp. 607-626.


All the TEI files are available to download from our repository on GitHub.

Contact us

We welcome contributions by holding institutions, scholars or projects creating manuscript descriptions to help us enrich the quality of the records in "Armenian Manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries". For feedback, corrections, and additions to individual catalogue entries, requests for digital copies, or general queries, please use the Contact us link at the very bottom of every page.