Bibliotheca Arabica – Research Platform

Integrating three main sources in a graph database


1. Data from manuscript catalogues and partner databases

2. Bio-bibliographical data from reference works

3. Manuscript notes from primary sources

On people, books and manuscript notes 




Incorporating all new bio-bibliographical information in one large database would be of prime importance. It has been tried, but so far it has failed. It could never be the work of one man, but at best a dedicated institution with large and longterm funds might be able to perform that task.
Jan Just Witkam “Brockelmann’s Geschichte Revisited”, in GAL, New Edition (2012)

Taking our long-term experience with the manuscript repository MyIHS and its data model as a starting point, the project is developing a research platform (KHIZANA) with two objectives. First it aims to be a comprehensive bio-bibliographical reference work for Arabic manuscripts as well as for manuscript notes. Secondly, building on that wealth of collected data it also provides tools for the exploration and visualisation of social and historical contexts of the manuscripts – their production, transmission, collection, and reception.

Bio-bibliographical reference work

As a reference work, the platform integrates three different kinds of sources:

  1. Information from manuscript catalogues relevant to the project. This includes printed catalogues, as well as data available from manuscript databases, such as the collections at German institutions (Leipzig University Library, Berlin State Library, etc.) and others.
  2. Information from biographical and bibliographical reference works, such as Ḫayr ad-Dīn al-Ziriklī’s al-Aʿlām and Ḥāǧǧī Ḫalīfa’s Kašf az-zunūn. It will also integrate Open Linked data from various sources, as well as data from authority files such as the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF).
  3. Information contained in manuscript notes. This includes but is not limited to owners, readers, and collectors of manuscripts, and, if available, the material context, e.g., the price. These notes will be taken directly from the manuscripts in various collections around the world (see micro-perspective)

On a technical level, building the platform means integrating and processing information from very diverse sources. Special emphasis will be laid on providing evidence (i.e., provenience) for every entry. One of the main tasks will be to create thousands of authority files on persons and works, many of them not contained in the Virtual International Authority File. In this context, Digital Humanities approaches will be developed for identifying persons and works, for example, relating different variants of names and titles to a specific person or work.

Exploring and visualising the social and historical context

Uncovering Networks within 700 years of Material textual Culture in the Arabic World.

Based on cutting-edge graph database technologies, the platform will enable researchers to trace the historical career of a work, a person or, possibly, attributed literary elements, such as genres or topics.
The processing and presentation of information will produce visualisations of networks, such as personal and scholarly relations, as well as geographical maps showing relations between regions, wherever enough reliable data is available.

By linking data on the production, reception, and circulation of manuscript textual witnesses, the research platform will not only prove beneficial for literary history, but this completely new and unique tool of presentation and exploration will result in enormous gains to manuscript research focused on social and cultural history, which is currently on the rise.

The platform will include a bio-bibliographical reference work of Arabic authors and works, and an online database of manuscript notes, as well as a research library that will provide tools for exploring and visualising larger interrelations in the history of Arabic manuscript literatures. A first online version will be published at an early stage of the overall project (2020); work on the platform will be expanded continuously in the subsequent years.

More information

 Introduction (main page)

Macro-Perspective: On the production, transmission, and reception of Arabic literatures

Micro-Perspective: On the reception and collection of Arabic literatures

Team: About us


Latest Publications



 Are you working on people, names, manuscript meta data and their linkability?
Please feel free to get in touch with us!


Dr.Thomas Efer () on the technical infrastructure
Dr. Daniel Kinitz () on sources & data integration
Bibliotheca Arabica – Towards a New History of Arabic Literature
Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Karl-Tauchnitz-Str. 1
04107 Leipzig/ Germany

Akademienprogramm Gesamt

Übersicht über alle laufenden Forschungsprojekte im Akademienprogramm:

Zum AGATE-Portal, Forschungsinformationssystem der Wissenschaftsakademien:

Die Gestalt des Raumes. Landschaften Deutschlands als Abbilder der Gesellschaft 15.05.2023 - 09.06.2023 — Volkshochschule Leipzig, Foyer, Löhrstraße 3-7, 04105 Leipzig
Vortrag: Silber, Segen, Kapital – Sachsen und der moderne Kapitalismus: Die letzten 500 Jahre 12.06.2023 19:00 - 20:00 — Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig
Briefeditionen: Überlieferung, Regest, Kommentar, Register 15.06.2023 - 17.06.2023 — Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig
Michael Stolberg (Würzburg): Die Arzt-Patienten-Kommunikation in der Frühen Neuzeit 16.06.2023 19:00 - 20:30 — Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig
Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften Leipzig am 23.6.2023 23.06.2023 16:30 - 22:00 — Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig
Svante Pääbo: Über die Neandertaler und wie sie in uns weiterleben 23.06.2023 17:00 - 18:00 — Paulinum – Aula und Universitätskirche St. Pauli
Vortrag: Wie das „Sachsenlied“ nach Sachsen und in eine Komposition von Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy gelangte 23.06.2023 19:00 - 20:00 — Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig

Denkströme IconDas Open Access (Online-)Journal der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften:

Diffusion Fundamentals

Diffusion Fundamentals IconInterdisziplinäres Online Journal für Diffusionstheorie in Kooperation mit der Universität Leipzig: