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Historical Sources

Guides to the Sources

Syriac Literature

Syriac Literature

Byzantine Literature (Greek and Latin)

Neville, L. (2018). Guide to Byzantine Historical Writing. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. This handy reference guide makes it easier to access and understand histories written in Greek between 600 and 1480 CE.. N

Arabic Literature

Encyclopedia of Islam (not free)

History of the Arabic Written Tradition

Roger Pearse notes the following

If you want to know what texts exist in Arabic, then the classic resource is Carl Brockelmann’s Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, published in seven volumes, in a terrible, disorganised, highly abbreviated format, starting in the 19th century. This is essentially unreadable, even if you have good German. The first 2 volumes are the original edition; there are 3 volumes of supplements; and then 2 volumes of a revised edition which refers to both the original and the supplements. It is a monster work of scholarship, but quite unusable. Paula Skreslet wrote:
Specialists in Islamic literature must make the effort to become conversant with Carl Brockelmann’s classic of Orientalist scholarship, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur. It is partly a narrative history, but chiefly an encyclopedia of entries on individual Arab writers and their work. Vol. 1 is organized chronologically, then by type/genre of literature (or subject matter), then geographically; vol. 2 organizes first by chronology, then geography, then genre or subject. Indexes for authors, titles, and the European editors of texts arc found in the third supplemental volume (after the entries on the modern era up to 1939). Even those who read German easily find Brockelmann’s work challenging to use, thanks to his difficult systems of abbreviation and transliteration, the lack of cross-references, the relationship between the supplements and the original volumes, and the proliferation of addenda and corrigenda.[1]
... Dutch translator Joep Lameer ... translated the lot into English, reorganised it, de-abbreviated the text, and generally cleaned it up and brought it up to date. ... His translation is titled, “History of the Arabic Written Tradition”, and is available from Brill here, for about $50 a volume.
Brockelmann, C. and J. Lameer (2023). History of the Arabic Written Tradition Volume 1, Brill.

Brockelmann, C. and J. Lameer (2023). History of the Arabic Written Tradition Supplement Volume 1, Brill.

Brockelmann, C. and J. Lameer (2023). History of the Arabic Written Tradition Volume 2, Brill.

Brockelmann, C. and J. Lameer (2023). History of the Arabic Written Tradition Supplement Volume 2, Brill.

History of the Arabic Written Tradition Supplement Volume 3 - ii

Note: I have copies of all above books on my hard drive

Brockelmann, C., 1909, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur - open access at archive.org

Clément, H. and Loyd, M.S., 1901, A history of Arabic literature - open access at archive.org

Wikipedia page History of the Arabic Written Tradition

General Reference

Early Church Fathers - Roger Pearse

Websites for Byzantists

Byzantine Reading Group - Univ. of Melbourne - this group is working on an English translation of Cedrenus

Dumbarton Oaks (Byzantine scholarship

Ancient Texts Online

Roger Pearse

A Survey of the Manuscripts of some Ancient Authors - Roger Pearse

The Tertullian Project

archive.org - books

The Suda online

Ancient Greek and Latin Texts at Google Books

Documenta Catolica Omnia

Searchable database of Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina Manuscripta (BHLms) - Society of Bollandists

The Online Books Page - Manuscripts, Arabic

Patrologia Graeca (PG) PDF’s from Roger Pearse

Patrologia Latina (PL) PDF’s from Roger Pearse

Monumenta Germaniae historica Scriptores digital home page - in German

Monumenta Germaniae Historica 1826-1950 at archive.org

Many Arabic texts online at the comprehensive library project

Neubauer, A., Cowley, A.E. (1886). VOLUME 1 Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library and in the College Libraries of Oxford: Including Mss. in Other Languages ... Written with Hebrew Characters, Or Relating to the Hebrew Language Or Literature, and a Few Samaritan Mss, Clarendon Press.

Neubauer, A., Cowley, A.E. (1906). VOLUME 2 Catalogue of the Hebrew Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library and in the College Libraries of Oxford: Including Mss. in Other Languages ... Written with Hebrew Characters, Or Relating to the Hebrew Language Or Literature, and a Few Samaritan Mss, Clarendon Press.

How to download a manuscript at the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)

from Roger Pearse

This is for all you non-German speakers out there. Yes, it is indeed possible to download a PDF of manuscripts at the ONB in Vienna!

All the fully-digitised manuscripts for the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek are listed on a page here:. (The link doesn't look very permanent, so you might have to search at manuscripta.at).

But it is very useful to have them all on one page! Ctrl-F to find the manuscript you want by number.

Here's a screen-grab of the top of the page:

Click on the manuscript you want. I've highlighted ONB 6. Here's the next page:

What you want is the "Volldigitalisat" - "Fully digitised". Click on the "Quicksearch" link:

I had to use Chrome's automatic translate facility to work out which, if any of this, was relevant. It's "Online-Zugriff". Click there. That will take you down the page, to somewhere seemingly random:

Clicking on "Digitales Objeckt" will, at last, take you to the online manuscript.

Right-click on the image, and the menu above will appear. This contains the exciting words "Objekt herunterladen" - "Download Object". If you click on this, you will be prompted to download a PDF of the "Gesamtes Objekt" - the whole thing.

Marvellous! Well done the ONB. Now I can mark up the PDF and do some work on the manuscript.

Libraries with Manuscript Collections

British Museum - London

Bodleian Library - Oxford

Cambridge University Library - Cambridge

Vatican Library - Rome

National Library of France

National Library of Russia

Abdallah Guennoun Library in Tangier, Morocco

Public Libraries which contain more than 5000 Manuscripts

Texts and Search Tools

Perseus Search Tool

Bibliothèque nationale de France Catalogue Général

Open Edition Books - open access - includes books on history and archaeology

persee - open access - includes books on history and archaeology - extensive collection of texts in french

Greek and Latin Literature and Manuscripts
Arabic Literature and Manuscripts


Downey, G. (1938). "Seleucid Chronology in Malalas." American Journal of Archaeology 42(1): 106-120.

Downey, G. (1963). Ancient Antioch, Princeton University Press.

Glanville Downey, A. (1961). History of Antioch in Syria from Seleucus to the Arab Conquest, Princeton Univ. Press, New Jersey, Princeton.

Grumel, V. (1958). La chronologie, Presses Universitaires de France.. G

Grumel, V. (1934). L Annee du Monde dans la Chronographie de Theophane. Echos d Orient 33: 396 - 408.

Other works by Vernace Grumel

Book Format Converters

Text Format Conversion
pdf Repair

pdf repair at ilovepdf.com - 100 Mb limit on free tier - worked

pdf repair at pdfresizer.com - 100 Mb limit on free tier

pdf repair at pdf4me.com - file size limit on free tier (possibly 100 Mb)

pdf repair at repair-pdf.cocodoc.com - 10 Mb limit on free tier

pdf repair at sedja.com - 50 Mb limit on free tier


Machine Translators and OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
Translator Links
Greek and Latin

Quick Latin translator software

Beginners Latin

Transliterate English to Greek

Transliterate Greek and Hebrew

Enigma - offers possible resolutions of words for which only some letters can be read

Juxta - an aid to comparing variant texts

Chrysocollate - fairly new, automates many collation and editing tasks

Logeion - offers free integrated access to a large number of Latin and Greek dictionaries, including the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, very useful for Christian Latin in general, especially after AD 600, where Lewis & Short stops

  • Roman Numerals

Syriac and Aramaic


Religious Texts

Bible Hub - Interlinear Bible

Bible Gateway

sefaria - 3,000 years of Jewish texts. in English and Hebrew with commentary and links

Babylonian Talmud

Jerusalem Talmud

Sacred texts - Judaism

Sacred texts - Christianity

The Quran (with commentary)

Tyndale Tech

Other References

Roman Emperors

Byzantine Emperors

Catholic Encyclopedia

Jewish Encyclopedia

Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia Iranica

Works of Josephus

Tremblements de terre. Histoire et Archéologie - list of books and papers about historical earthquakes

Historians of the Ottoman Empire Website

English translations of some sources for Greek and Roman history at attalus.org

Perseus Collection - Greek and Roman Materials


Dumbarton Oaks Papers.. G

Dumbarton Oaks papers sorted by subject

Revue de l’Orient Chretien online; list of Syriac-related articles and links - Roger Pearse

www.persee.fr - Arts (History of art, Architecture)

www.persee.fr - Classical Studies

AWOL - The Ancient World Online

Online Publications of the German Orientalist Society (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft) from 1847 to 2013

Al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā: The Journal of Middle East Medievalists (open access)

Journal Asiatique at BnF - open access - 1822-1940

Journal Asiatique at Peeters - open access - 1999-present

The journal of the Palestine Oriental Society (JPOS) 1920-1948 open access

The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland at JSTOR - 1824 - 2016

Bulletin d'études orientales (B.E.O.) at JSTOR


La Gazette de France

60,000 titles of books, brochures and publications and about 700 periodicals dealing with the study of the Land of Israel and its settlement and the study of Israeli communities in the East at Yad Ben-Zvi (Hebrew webpage)


Hellenistic and Roman Near East

Hellenistic and Roman Near East
Description Image Source
Hellenistic and Roman Near East Map I - Kaizer et al (2022)
The Decapolis Map II - Kaizer et al (2022)
Commagene and Osrhoene Map III - Kaizer et al (2022)
Phoenician coast Map IV - Kaizer et al (2022)
Palestinian coast
the Galilee
Map V - Kaizer et al (2022)
Nabatea Map VI - Kaizer et al (2022)
Northern Syria Fig. 17.1 - Bousdroukis in Kaizer et al (2022)

Ambraseys (2009)

Ambraseys (2009)
Description Image Source
Thrace Map 2 - Ambraseys (2009)
Bithynia Map 3 - Ambraseys (2009)
Pontus Map 4 - Ambraseys (2009)
Map 5 - Ambraseys (2009)
Jazira (N Mesopotamia) Map 6 - Ambraseys (2009)
N Mesopotamia
Map 7 - Ambraseys (2009)
Map 8 - Ambraseys (2009)
Cyrenaica Map 9 - Ambraseys (2009)
Nile Delta Map 10 - Ambraseys (2009)
Map 11 - Ambraseys (2009)
Crete Map 12 - Ambraseys (2009)
Ionia Map 13 - Ambraseys (2009)
Map 14 - Ambraseys (2009)
Map 15 - Ambraseys (2009)
N Levant Map 16 - Ambraseys (2009)
Phoenicia Map 17 - Ambraseys (2009)
Jordan Valley and to the N Map 18 - Ambraseys (2009)
Dead Sea and to the S Map 19 - Ambraseys (2009)

Guidoboni et al (1994)

Guidoboni et al (1994)
Description Image Source
760 to 303 BC 760 to 303 BC - Guidoboni et al (1994)
278 BC to 100 AD 278 BC to 100 AD - Guidoboni et al (1994)
201 to 499 AD 201 to 499 AD - Guidoboni et al (1994)
501 to 995 AD 501 to 995 AD - Guidoboni et al (1994)

Late Antiquity/Early Islamic

Late Antiquity/Early Islamic
Description Image Source
Near East in Late Antiquity Map 1 - Hoyland (2011)
Early Islamic Middle East Map 2 - Hoyland (2011)
Syro-Mesopotamia 6th-8th centuries Map 3 - Hoyland (2011)
Map of Early Islamic Jordan and Palestine Figure 1 - Rattenborg and Blanke (2017)
Map of southern Bilad ash-Sham in early Islamic times Figure 1 - Barnes et al (2006)
Map of Late Roman/Early Islamic territories - Gaza to Damascus Figure 4.1 - Blanke and Walmsley (2022)
Map of the provinces of Palestine and Arabia in the sixth century Figure A - Tsafrir and Foester (1997)
Roman roads to Scythopolis Figure B - Tsafrir and Foester (1997)
The provinces of Palaestina and Arabia in the Byzantine Period Map - Meimaris and Kritikakou (2005)

Syriac Christianity

  • “Maps,” in Back Matter, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay
  • from e-GEDSH


Ancient Place Names

Ancient Place Names

Source Dependencies

Source Dependencies

Late Antiquity/Early Islamic

Late Antiquity/Early Islamic
Description Image Source
Transmission to and from
Theophilus of Edessa
Figure 1 - Hoyland (2011)
Transmission of
Theophilus of Edessa
Conrad (1992)
Transmission from
Theophilus of Edessa
Debie, M. (2015)
Sources of
Michael the Syrian
Chr. 1234
Dion. Tell-Mahre
Debie, M. (2015)

Terms and Definitions

Dating Terminology

terminus post quem - the earliest possible date for something.
terminus ante quem - the latest possible date for something..
terminus a quo - the earliest possible date for something.
terminus ad quem - the point at which something ends or finishes.

Manuscript Terminology

MS - Manuscript (written by hand)

MSS - Manuscripts

Autograph - A manuscript in an author's hand that includes the author's signature

Colophon - A statement providing the details of publication, sometimes found at the end of a book, but more often at the bottom of a printed book's title page

Titulus (plural tituli) - Title of a book - derived from ancient inscriptions which labeled items such as sculptures, art, boundaries, etc.

Folio - From the Latin word for leaf, a paper size designating one-half of a standard-size sheet of paper. Achieved by folding the sheet in half once. The front and back of a folio are referred to as recto and verso. Also the size of the book or manuscript comprising such sheets, sometimes abbreviated 2o. Shakespeare's plays were first collected in the famous First Folio of 1623.

Leaf - A single sheet of paper or vellum, each side of which constitutes a page.

Page - A single side of a leaf, and part of a system of enumerating the leaves in a book.

Recto - The front or obverse of a page, leaf, or sheet of paper, vellum, or other surface designed for writing.

Verso - The back or reverse of a leaf or sheet of paper, vellum, or other surface designed for writing.

Stemma - (pl. stemmata) The genealogy of multiple transcriptions of a work.

Archetype - an older manuscript from which younger manuscripts were copied

Palimpsest - a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused for another document.

Glossary of Manuscript terms

Ancient Measures

Historical Units Converter