Congratulations to one of our 2022 grantees!

We are thrilled to fund The Kairouan Manuscript Project in their project. So what is the project?

About the project:

The Barakat Trust is proud to fund the Kairouan Manuscript Project for a second year so that they may continue their excellent three-year internship programme, raising the next generation of Tunisian conservators. This internship programme is enabling the transfer of uncommon specialist skills from one generation of conservators to the next. In doing so, it will ensure the ongoing care of the manuscript collection at the National Laboratory for the Preservation and Conservation of Parchment and Manuscripts (NLPCPM) in Kairouan, Tunisia. It is empowering a new generation of Tunisian conservators to develop sustainable ways to preserve their country’s written heritage. The interns will be trained by top experts in a world-class institution, studying preventive, paper, and parchment conservation, codicology, and book history, as well as a specialist field of their choosing. Additionally, as a result of the interns’ excellent performance and growth since starting in June 2020, they will take ownership of key collection care and management responsibilities in their second year.

This project provides a promising future for the interns. It will potentially secure the interns full-time, permanent employment at a prestigious institution in their home country, reducing the chance that they will emigrate and Tunisia will lose their expertise. At the same time, the programme will enable the interns to network globally through membership in international professional organizations and participation in international conferences. The connections they make will allow their knowledge to have not just a local impact, but a global one.

About the grantee:

The Kairouan Manuscript Project is a network of academics and heritage management professionals devoted to facilitating the care, management, study, and promotion of the manuscript collection of the National Laboratory for the Preservation and Conservation of Parchment and Manuscripts in Raqqada, Kairouan, Tunisia. This manuscript collection in Kairouan is the legacy of the ancient teaching mosque in Tunisia’s holiest city. Originally stored in the maqsura, an enclosed space near the front of the mosque, these artefacts are of unparalleled importance for understanding early Islamic history. To the best of our knowledge, the NLPCPM holds the oldest near-intact collection of Islamic manuscripts in the world, containing 23 of the 30 Islamic literary manuscripts that—per Jonathan Brockopp’s recent monograph entitled ‘Muhammad’s Heirs: The Rise of Muslim Scholarly Communities, 622-950’ (2017)—can be confidently dated to 900 CE or earlier.