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Azerbaijan Receives Ancient Manuscripts From Vatican

The Vatican Library
The Vatican Library
BAKU -- The Azerbaijani government has received copies of 60 rare medieval manuscripts from the Vatican's secret archives, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Farid Alakbarli, a department head at Baku's Institute of Manuscripts, told RFE/RL today that the documents -- discovered by Azerbaijani scholars two months ago -- include works by scientists and poets such as Nizami, Fuzuli, Nasimi, Maragayi, and Nasraddin Tusi.

He said the Vatican scanned the manuscripts and put them on CDs for Azerbaijani officials. Those written in Arabic and Persian will be transliterated into the Latin script, he added.

Alakbarli said the original manuscripts are kept in the Vatican Archive's Iranian and Turkish depositories, as there is no specific depository for Azerbaijan.

He told RFE/RL on July 9 that the manuscripts will enable historians to study Azerbaijan's history and culture more deeply.

The manuscripts include a volume of stories in Turkish dating from the 15th century.

Alakbarli said "the book contains folklore and resembles the 11th-12th century 'Book of Dede Korkut' (Kitabi Dede Qorqud)," and added that the precious documents include a separate manuscript of the "Book of Dede Korkut" -- the famous epic stories of the beliefs of the Oghuz Turks.

The manuscripts from the Vatican library also contain written correspondence between Vatican popes and the rulers of territories that today are part of Azerbaijan.

"The documents include some political information that was previously unknown," Alakbarli said. "The study of these documents may augment our knowledge of the history of Azerbaijan."

Alakbarli said that during the Middle Ages, the popes acquired an interest in non-Christian authors as they tried to proselytize. That interest led to the acquisition of the books from and about the Muslim East.

Read more in Azeri here