An Unpublished Qur’anic Fragment from the Qubbat al-Khazna in the Syrian National Museum

by Arianna D’Ottone Rambach*

On the north-western side of the courtyard of the Damascus Great Mosque, there is an octagonal building standing on eight pillars, salvaged from the late-antique church of St. John the Baptist. The use of this structure as a treasury for funds (fig. 1) possibly started in Umayyad times, in 86 AH/705 CE, when the church was turned into a mosque. Indeed, this set a precedent for other regions and later periods: in 340/951-2, for example, al-Iṣṭakhrī wrote that in Ādharbayjān they deposit “the treasure in the Great Mosque after the Syrian fashion (‘alà rasm al-Shām). In Syria, in fact, they deposit the treasure in the Great Mosque in a little structure called bayt al-māl, covered with a leaden roof, closed by an iron door, and supported on nine (sic) columns”[1].

Fig 1: Qubbat al-Khaznah at the Great Umayyad Mosque. Photo by Arianna Rambach

As for Western sources, the earliest description of the domed octagonal building was made by Richard Pococke (1704-1765), who believed that it was a baptistery. Commenting on the plan of the Umayyad mosque, Pococke recorded, “There are a great number of mosques in Damascus, some of which were formerly churches, particularly the principal mosque, which was the cathedral church. […] A plan of the cathedral, and of the supposed buildings about it can be seen in the twenty-fifth plate. […] D is an octagon baptistery built on eight pillars[2].

The octagonal Bayt al-māl/Treasury, known in Western sources as the Qubbat al-khazna/storage dome), functioned first as a strongroom and later as an archive and library as well as a repository for written documents. It is not known when the transition from Treasury to storage room took place, but the different names given for the very same building—Bayt al-māl and Qubbat al-khazna—–reflect the two different functions of the structure at two different stages[3].

The custom of keeping both documents and books in a special place was part of the ancient Jewish tradition, the Cairo Genizah being a well-known example of this practice. In the Middle East, this tradition was also maintained by Christian and Muslim communities[4]. The Damascus Qubba is thus an ‘Islamic’ strongroom—also given its location within the walls of a mosque—and it held a large quantity of multilingual, and multigraphic, manuscript evidence representing a wide variety of religions, cultures, languages and alphabets.

There are as many as 200,000 manuscript fragments in the Qubba collection, although it is difficult to give a precise figure for various reasons: most of the fragments are currently in Istanbul, while others are still kept in Damascus, but at different sites, namely the National Museum and the Museum of Calligraphy. The whereabouts of a number of manuscripts is, however, unknown.

A forthcoming book, entitled The Damascus Fragments: Towards a History of the Qubbat al-khazna Corpus of Manuscripts and Documents, edited by the writer together with Konrad Hirschler and Ronny Vollandt, will present the manuscript evidence from the Damascene Qubba as an organic corpus.

A 9th century Qur’anic fragment from the National Museum of Damascus

Both the Syrian National Museum and the Museum of Calligraphy hold folios of ancient Qur’ans, originally part of the Qubbat al-khazna collection, which are datable from between the middle of the 2nd century AH/second half of the 8th century AD to the 5th/11th century. I have already had occasion to study and illustrate various Qur’anic fragments from both these museums[5]. I will limit myself here to mentioning the three folios of the Qur’an of Amajūr, which have never hitherto been illustrated. I was able to document these after seeing them displayed in one of the showcases in the Museum of Calligraphy in Damascus (fig. 2).

Fig 2: Three folios from Amajur Quran at the Museum of Calligraphy in Damascus. Photo by Arianna Rambach

The close connection between the Qubbat al-khazna and the Qur’anic fragments seems to have inspired Ottoman cabinetmakers to create a particular type of Qur’an box (fig. 3)[6]. The link between the Qubba, in which the manuscript fragments of the Damascus genizah-like deposit were kept, and the Ottoman wooden box created to contain a copy of the Qur’an that was moved to the Türk ve İslam Eserleri Müzesi in 1911 – just a few years before the arrival of the Damascus papers (Şam evrakı) in Istanbul (1917) – seems a remarkable case of mise en abîme.

Fig 3: old picture of a Qubba-shaped Qur’an box

The aim of this paper is to present a further unpublished Qur’anic fragment from the National Museum of Damascus (Inv. Nr. ‘Ayn 718)[7] containing the final verses of the Sūrat al-nūr (24, vv. 61-64) and the beginning of the Sūrat al-furqān (25, vv. 1-3). This parchment fragment can be dated to the 9th century based on palaeographical grounds (Style B.II). The text, comprising 16 lines of script per page, is written in black ink with red dots indicating the vocalization (fig. 4)[8]. The title of the Sūrat al-furqān and the number of its verses (sab‘ūna wa-sitt: 76)[9] is written in gold and outlined in ink (fig. 5), although the verses are not divided like the majority of the fragments belonging to this style[10]. Among the main features of the script, it is possible to note the following:
– The extension of the retroflex yā’/alif maqṣūra below the line (fig. 4, line 10: ḥattà and fig. 5, line 7: shay’);
– the short lower hook of the independent alif;
– The vertical body of the nūn with a short perpendicular lower stroke at the end of a word;
– The initial form of the ‘ayn with the hook that begins with an oblique stroke to the left (similar to C.Ia style)
– The hā’ in medial form that is connected to the following letter with a stroke from its pointed top (fig. 5, last line: li-anfusihim);
– The qāf in the final position taking the form of a U that points towards the right in relation to the head of the letter.

For comparison, it is useful to bear in mind fragment KFQ13 and KFQ 14 of the Nasir Khalili Collection (London) and the Paris fragment, Bibliothèque nationale, MS Arabe 340f.

[Editor’s note: The calligraphic style in Inv. Nr. ‘Ayn 718 (illustrated above) matches several Quranic manuscripts from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art (TIEM no. 457 and 458); Walters Art Museum (MS. W.552); and one Quranic folio previously held at King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies. This last example is identical to Inv. Nr. ‘Ayn 718 and likely belong to the Qubba collection. In both folios, black ink is used for the Quranic text, red ink for vowels, and each page has 16 lines]

*Dr. Arianna D’Ottone Rambach is Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at Sapienza University of Rome, where she teaches Arabic and Arabic Palaeography, Codicology and Numismatics. Her main field of research is Arabic written culture, from papyri and manuscripts to coins and inscriptions. She is the author of La storia di Bayāḍ e Riyāḍ ( 368): una nuova edizione e traduzione (2013); Collezione di Vittorio Emanuele III: Monete arabe (2017), The Qur’ān Encrypted. A Unique Qur’ānic Manuscript in Cipher, “Journal of Islamic Manuscripts” 11, 2 (2020), pp. 133-176 and the editor of Palaeography Between East and West (2018).

[1] “وبيت مالهم في مسجد الجامع على رسم الشام فانَّ بيوت أموال في الشام في مساجدها وهو بيت المال مرصص السطح وعليه باب حديد وهو على تسعة اساطين” Al-Istakhrī, Kitāb masālik al-mamālik/Viae Regnorum: description ditionis moslamicae, edited by M.J. De Goeje, Leiden, Brill, 19272, p. 184. For the English translation, see Keppel A.C. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture. Umayyads. A.D. 622-720, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1969, 2 vols: vol. I, 201-202.

[2] Richard Pococke, A Description of the East and Some Other Countries Vol. II, part I: Observations on Palestine or the Holy Land, Syria, Mesopotamia, Cyprus and Candia, London: Bowyer 1745, 120 and pl. XXL. On Pococke, “one of the first true exponents of the informed ‘travel writer’ tradition”, see Ross Burns, Damascus: A History, London and New York, Routledge, 2005, 62; see also Claire Gallien, Edward Pococke et l’orientalisme anglais du XVIIe siècle: passeurs, transferts et transition, “Dix-septième siècle” 268 (2015/3), 443-458.

[3] On the history of the Qubbat in Arabic sources, see Saʿīd Ḍ. Al-Joumani, Taʾrīkh Qubbat al-māl, aw Qubbat ʿĀʾisha, aw al-qubba al-gharbiyya fī-l-Jāmiʿ al-Umawī bi-Dimashq, in The Damascus Fragments: Towards a History of the Qubbat al-khazna Corpus of Manuscripts and Documents, edited by A. D’Ottone Rambach, K. Hirschler and R. Vollandt (eds), Beirut, Orient-Institut Beirut, 2020 (Beiruter Texte und Studien, 140) (in press).

[4] For example, the 1975 discovery of a room at St Catherine on Mount Sinai that had been sealed since the eighteenth century, containing another third of the library’s holdings – known since then as the ‘New Finds’ –, occurred just two years after the chance discovery of the manuscript fragments in Ṣan‘ā’ (Yemen) in 1973.

[5] See Arianna D’Ottone, Frammenti coranici antichi nel Museo nazionale di Damasco, in Dirāsāt Aryūliyya: Studi in onore di Angelo Arioli, edited by G. Lancioni and O. Durand, Roma, Nuova Cultura, 2007 (La Sapienza Orientale, III), pp. 217-239; Paolo Radiciotti and Arianna D’Ottone, I frammenti della Qubbat al-khazna di Damasco. A proposito di una scoperta sottovalutata, “Nea Rhome” 5 (2008), pp. 45-74: esp. pp. 65-74 and figs. 1-7; Arianna D’Ottone Rambach, Frammenti di manoscritti arabi: una conoscenza frammentaria, in Frammenti di un discorso storico. Per una grammatica dell’aldilà del frammento, edited by C. Tristano, Spoleto, Centro Italiano di Studi sull’Alto Medioevo, 2019 (Palaeographica: Collana di studi di storia della scrittura, 8), pp. 261-284 and plates I-II: esp. pp. 276-281 and plates I-II.

[6] See Federica A. Broilo. Ottoman Woodwork: Some Little-Known Quran Boxes from the Türk ve Islam Eserleri Müzesi in Istanbul (16th-17th centuries), in Thirteenth International Congress of Turkish Art. Proceedings, edited by Dávid Géza and Ibolya Gerelyes, Budapest, Hungarian National Museum 2009, pp. 135-143: 140-141.

[7] The image of the fragment presented in this paper was taken from among the previously published photographs of other fragments from the National Museum; see supra. The inventory number is recorded in ink in the right-hand corner of the verso of the folio.

[8] A similar fragment, illustrated in the concise guide to the museum, no. A 344-345 datable to the 4th/10th century, has 15 lines per page; see A. Al-Ush, A. Al-Joundi and B. Zouhdi, A Concise Guide to the National Museum of Damascus, [Damascus], Publication of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, [1975], p. 210, no. 3 and fig. 85.

[9] The changes in how the āyāt (verses) were numbered in ancient Qur’anic fragments has not yet been studied in depth. Different ways of numbering the verses are found in these fragments, with both the abjad system and numerals attested. In the fragments in which numerals are used, one sees that units can precede – as expected – or follow – as in this case – the tens.

[10] There are 15 lines of script on the verso of this fragment, although some blank spaces, corresponding to a line of script, are also left in order to separate the end of Sura 24, as well as the title of the Sūrat al-Furqān and the number of its verses (lines 1-7), from the beginning of the Sura 25 text (lines 8-15).

Lapis and Gold, Exploring Chester Beatty’s Ruzbihan Qur’an

by Elaine Wright*

Bearing inventory number CBL Is 1558, the Chester Beatty Library’s so-called Ruzbihan Qur’an is surely one of the finest Islamic manuscripts in existence. It was produced in the city of Shiraz, in southwest Iran and, although undated, work on it was likely begun about 1550. By that date, Shiraz had been a major centre of book production for at least two centuries. Production was mainly commercial—with Shiraz manuscripts exported far and wide within the Islamic world—but fine manuscripts, the result of princely or other high-level patronage, were also produced there.

The calligrapher of the Chester Beatty Qur’an was Ruzbihan Muhammad al-Tab‘i al-Shirazi, whom Qadi Ahmad singles out as one of the four great calligraphers of sixteenth-century Shiraz. In his well-known treatise on calligraphers and painters, Qadi Ahmad underscores the high esteem in which these four calligraphers were held by telling us that most of the other renowned calligraphers, not only in Shiraz, but in all of Fars, Khurasan, Kirman and Iraq, were ‘mere eaters of the crumbs from their table’. Although a calligrapher of such high regard would have copied the text of numerous manuscripts over the course of his career, only five Qur’ans signed by Ruzbihan, including the Chester Beatty manuscript, have survived to this day, while another manuscript, a copy of the Qasida of Imam ‘Ali Riza, is also signed by him.  

Ruzbihan copied the text of the Chester Beatty manuscript onto large sheets of highly burnished, slightly off-white paper, each measuring approximately 42.7 x 29 cm. The arrangement of the text on the page consists of a series of panels containing long lines of large-scale script (muhaqqaq in the upper and lower panels but thulth in the middle panel) and shorter lines of small-scale script (naskh). The lines of naskh script were copied in black ink, but the lines of muhaqqaq and thulth were copied in either blue or gold ink, with the placement of the blue and gold inks alternating from opening to opening, further complicating an already complicated arrangement of the text. For each type of script, the nib of the reed pen was cut in a specific manner, so each page is the result of using three different scripts, at least three different pens and three different colours of ink. The copying of the text was, therefore, an especially long and labourious task, as well as a costly one, for the large lines of script meant fewer words could be fitted onto each page and therefore more sheets of expensive paper were required: the large (and heavy) manuscript consists of 445 folios, or 890 pages.

Overall, the manuscript had survived the centuries well, except for one major problem: on each page, the text is framed by a series of thin bands and lines of gold and coloured pigments, including a corrosive, copper-bearing green pigment known as atacamite, which, over the centuries, had burned through the paper. As a result, on many folios, the paper was split along the green framing line, sometimes with the rectangular section of the text almost completely dislodged from the surrounding paper. This meant the manuscript could no longer be safely handled, and so, in 2012, it was decided to remove the manuscript’s binding to allow the folios to be conserved. Once all the damaged folios had been repaired (and before the manuscript was rebound), a lengthy period of research on the manuscript was undertaken, which culminated, in the summer of 2016, in an exhibition at the Chester Beatty and then, in 2018, in the publication of a book on the manuscript, entitled Lapis and Gold, Exploring Chester Beatty’s Ruzbihan Qur’an, by the Chester Beatty’s then Curator of the Islamic Collections, Elaine Wright.

Fig. 3. A folio before conservation, showing the damage caused by the pigment atacamite

With the folios loose, they could be much more easily and safely manipulated than if bound, and the resulting close study of the manuscript—often with the aid of a microscope—revealed many surprises, one of which was the discovery of omissions and errors in the text. Although it is often said that the act of copying out the text of the Qur’an is one of reverence, calligraphers are of course only human, and no matter how careful one is, small slip-ups are bound to occur, especially when the copying of the text was as complicated a matter as it was with the Ruzbihan Qur’an. Omissions most often occurred when the same word or phrase appeared in close sequence within the text, with the calligrapher omitting the second occurrence of the word or phrase. If the omission was caught, the omitted text was usually added by squeezing it between the existing lines of text, in a small hand. Actual errors—usually just a wrong letter or wrong word—could be fixed, if caught when the ink was still damp, by licking the paper to remove the ink; once the paper had dried, the correct letter or word was added.

The information presented above is drawn from Parts 1-3 of Lapis and Gold, which, following a brief introduction, focus on Ruzbihan and his contribution to the production of the manuscript and then on the specific features of the manuscript that facilitate the reading and recitation of the holy text. The latter includes a discussion of the small devices that mark the end of each verse, which, though found in all copies of the Qur’an, are treated with a level of detail and precision absent in almost all other manuscripts of the time. The care lavished on these tiny devices is reflected, on a much grander scale, by the other, unusually fine illuminations found throughout the manuscript, which are the focus of Parts 4-5 of the book.

Fig. 4. One of more than 6,000 verse markers in the manuscript

Indeed, although the manuscript is renowned for being in the hand of Ruzbihan, it is equally the combined quality, extent, complexity and diversity of its overall decorative program that sets the manuscript apart from almost all others of its time.  Moreover, while the text was copied by a single individual, it is clear that a large team of highly skilled, but now anonymous artists and craftsmen was responsible for the decoration. Especially magnificent are the five fully illuminated, double-page openings—and one single page—that mark the beginning, middle and end of the manuscript. As in most manuscripts, illuminated headings mark the beginning of each sura (chapter) of the Qur’an, but those in the Ruzbihan Qur’an are much more varied in terms of both composition and palette than is typical for the sixteenth century. Close examination of these illuminations revealed that when painting areas with a gold ground, the artist first added the gold and then painted the coloured pigments on top of it. However, if the deep blue pigment made from ground-up lapis lazuli was to be used for the ground, then all the gold and coloured details—no matter how tiny—were painted in first and, then, the dark blue ground was painted in around them. This reversal of the process was necessary because of the nature of the blue pigment, which absorbs any colour painted on top of it.

In most manuscripts, the small vertical panels at either side of the short lines of naskh script are undecorated or, at best, are very simply decorated. But in the Ruzbihan Qur’an, each of these more than 3,500 panels is beautifully decorated. One of the two types of decoration used consists of that seen elsewhere throughout the manuscript, namely a gold ground overpainted with multi-coloured blossoms. The other—used for more than eighty-five per cent of the panels—is much more extraordinary. It consists of separate pieces of paper dyed in a wide range of often unusual colours and overpainted with tiny lotuses and other blossoms, mainly using thin wash-like pigments. So far, this technique of dying, over-painting with washes and pasting in place separate pieces of papers has not been seen in any other manuscript.

Fig. 6. A detail of f. 185a, showing a vertical panel consisting of a separate, dyed and pasted-on piece of paper

Curiously, the illuminations at the end of the manuscript exhibit a startling change in aesthetic, an obvious change of taste that can be seen in broad terms as a move from a more classical style of decoration (as used in the shamsas and frontispiece) to one in which earlier norms of beauty seem to be discarded, replaced by what often seems an almost discordant conglomeration of patterns and colours. In some cases, existing illuminations have been overpainted, but this was not a much later re-working of the illuminations for there are clear indications that the artists responsible were the same ones who produced all other illuminations in the manuscript. Moreover, once started, this re-working of the manuscript was soon halted, for only the final fourteen openings are either partially or fully affected.

What prompted the decisions to begin and then end the re-working of the illuminations is not known.

Lapis and Gold, Exploring Chester Beatty’s Ruzbihan Qur’an, by Elaine Wright (with an essay on pigments by Kristine Rose Beers) Ad Ilissum/Paul Holberton Publishing, London. 320 pages, 430 colour illustrations.

[Editor’s note: The book, Lapis and Gold, is available on Amazon or from the publisher. A complete digitized version of the Ruzbihan Qur’an (CBL Is 1558) can also be viewed on the Chester Beatty Library website.]

*Dr. Elaine Wright worked as Curator of the Islamic Collections at the Chester Beatty Library from 1998 to 2017, where she was responsible for the care, management and public display of the Library’s more than 6,000 Islamic manuscripts and single-page paintings and calligraphies.

Her main area of research is manuscript production in the Persianate world. In addition to Lapis and Gold, she is the author of Islam: Faith, Art, Culture, Manuscripts of the Chester Beatty Library (2009) and The Look of the Book: Manuscript Production in Shiraz, 1303-1452 (2012); she is also the main author of Muraqqa‘, Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library (2008).

Digital Analysis and Online Publication of Early Kufic Quranic Manuscripts Kept in Iranian Collections

Kufic Qur’an manuscript attributed to Ali b. Abi Talib at Mashhad, Iran. Courtesy of IQNA

By Ali Aghaei*


Over the past thirty years, research on Quranic manuscripts has made considerable progress. Fundamental works on codicology, palaeography and dating of early Quranic manuscripts have been done, although mainly on those manuscripts originally came from the Western side of the Islamic World such as al-Fusṭāṭ (Old Cairo), Damascus, and Sanaa (Yemen). To have a complete image of the Quran’s textual history, however, it is necessary to include also Quranic manuscripts kept in the collections in the Eastern side of the Islamic world. Quranic manuscripts from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia are rarely taken into account by scholars, which is mostly due to the difficulty to have access to them. In the case of Iran, as the existing though incomplete and outdated catalogues show, the number of Quranic manuscripts and fragments kept in Iranian libraries, museums and even in private collections is considerable. Based on the available catalogues as well as the information that we were able to obtain during our exploratory trips, hundreds of Quranic manuscripts and fragments before the 4th Century CE are kept in several collections in Tehran, Qom, Mashhad, Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, etc. The actual number of Quranic manuscripts from the first four Islamic centuries is most likely to be significantly higher, although it has been challenging to estimate due to lack of available or updated catalogues.

Thanks to the support of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in Germany, Irankoran can approach to previously inaccessible collections. This source material offers a new perspective on the textual history of the Quran, for it is the first time that Quranic manuscripts from the Eastern part of the Islamic world are going to be systematically scrutinised.

Irankoran is using and completing the work of the project Corpus Coranicum of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW). Since 2009, Corpus Coranicum has published the first digital comprehensive online catalogue of early Quranic manuscripts, mainly based on the Western part of the Islamic world kept in European collections. It has also developed a system for digital transliteration of Quranic manuscripts.

1. Digitalisation

In the course of the project Irankoran, images of Quranic manuscripts from Iranian collections, together with their metadata, are recorded in an online digital catalogue, “Bibliotheca Coranica Iranica”, according to the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). This online catalogue will present a prototype that will be used by other (previously unavailable) Iranian collections and will help develop more manuscript collections online. The publication path also ensures the accessibility of the data and results obtained in the Islamic world.

2. Digital editions

In addition to the digitalisation of the Iranian of Quranic manuscripts, which makes them accessible to other scholars all over the world, the project aims at preparing digital editions of early Kufic Quranic manuscripts which cover three aspects of the text: (a) spellings of the Quranic text (rasm), (b) variant readings (qirāʾāt), and verse numbering (ʿadd al-āy) in the manuscript. In order to perform this idea, a digital database has been developed where for each word of the Quran, all three information can be recorded.

3. Transliteration

All early Kufic Quranic manuscripts are planned to be transliterated into a typical Arabic typeface (naskh). Letters are written the same way as they appear in the manuscript, usually without, though sometimes with, diacritical dots. In the transliteration, vowel signs are not represented. These digital transliterations display different levels of readability, variant spellings (in comparison to other early manuscripts and modern prints like the Cairo edition), and modifications (corrections, over-writings, additions, and erasures) in the manuscript. To carry this out, Irankoran is following the transliteration system developed by the project Corpus Coranicum in a modified, adapted way in the presentation of modifications in the manuscript.

3. Variant readings

Irankoran also confronts the statements of the Islamic scholarly literature on the variant readings of the Quranic text with the readings as they appear in the early manuscripts. The main question is to what extent the seven readings of the Quran, canonised by the Baghdadian scholar Ibn Muǧāhid (died 936), can assert themselves in early Quranic manuscripts some of which predate his time.

4. Verse numbering

Almost all Quranic manuscripts from early period represent special signs for separating and sometimes numbering the verses. Since we have differences in numbering the Quranic verses which traditionally assumed to be originated from different locals and regions, one would expect that these differences appear in the Quranic manuscript as well. Again, the goal here is to assess the Islamic traditions on verse numbering through registration of the data in each manuscript into the database, and then a detailed survey of them.

5. Dating manuscripts

Dating of the manuscript plays a central role in understanding the history of the Quran. Unfortunately, early Quranic manuscripts usually have no colophon, most probably because the first and/or the last pages of the manuscript are usually exposed to damages. Of course, sometimes one finds pseudo-colophons which later inserted into the last page of manuscripts claiming attribution to the Shīʿī Imāms. Interestingly on the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran, at least one codex is kept that is attributed to Caliph ʿUthmān, in the city of Negel in Kurdestan, which seems very difficult to have access.

Since the paleographical classification of script styles can only provide a relative chronology for early Quranic manuscripts, dating based on radiocarbon analysis (C-14 analysis) seems to be useful. The radiocarbon measurements are carried out in cooperation with the Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics Isotope Laboratory (ETH Zurich).

Concluding Remarks

Irankoran is an interdisciplinary research project for it incorporates the philological analysis of the Quranic manuscripts and scientific dating through C-14 analysis. The results of Irankoran will be published online. Because of its digital dimension, the main goal is to encourage its academic audience of the value of digital publication and to convince the authorities in libraries and collections who still have problems to accept the idea, as it is the case in Europe, in the United States of America, and also often in the Middle East, to put their heritage online.

*Dr. Ali Aghaei is a research fellow at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the head of IranKoran project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in Germany.