The systematic research into the Ethiopian manuscript culture is the aim of the long-term project “Die Schriftkultur des christlichen Äthiopiens und Eritreas: Eine multimediale Forschungsumgebung” (“Beta maṣāḥǝft: Manuscripts of Ethiopia and Eritrea”). Ethiopia and Eritrea are situated, from the perspective of cultural history, both at the periphery of the so-called Christian Orient and in the middle of Africa. The culture is therefore equally influenced by the beginnings of Christianity as well as the Islam. An exceptional case for a sub-Saharan African country, Ethiopia and Eritrea possess a rich written heritage which goes back to the first millennium before common era. Yet no systematic repertory exists so far, neither of all known texts nor of their creators. The project “Beta maṣāḥǝft” aims to fill this gap.
A diverse and complex virtual research environment should be created, in which texts in original script, transcription and translation from different time periods and regions are linked by means of a database, in which information concerning carriers of texts, authors and places of origin are included.
The long-term research project, which is set to last for 25 years, is conducted under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Alessandro Bausi at the Asien-Afrika-Institut, in particular at the Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies of Universität Hamburg.