On Thursday, the Armenian National Union of Education and Culture donated 27 unique 14-20th-century manuscripts and publications to the repository of ancient manuscripts “Matenadaran”. Among the copies donated to Matenadaran are collections, diaries, ritual books, psalms, gospels, and a musical collection.
As the director of Matenadaran Vahan Ter-Ghevondyan told the News Armenia agency, this is the first significant gift to the institute over the past 15 years.
“The initiative to donate these unique books belongs to the Lebanese branch of the Armenian National Union of Education and Culture. Negotiations on the transfer took several months.
We were able to transport the books from Beirut to Yerevan thanks to the support of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy in Lebanon,” Ter-Ghevondyan said, noting that the official book transfer ceremony took place on the days when the Armenian National Education and Culture Union celebrated its 90th anniversary.
According to Ter-Ghevondyan, Matenadaran’s efforts of identifying and acquiring such treasures of the cultural heritage of the Armenian people have been in force for several decades.
“This process began back in the 1920s and 1930s and has reached a great rate since the 1960s when the current Matenadaran building was opened. Over the years, the storage fund has mostly been replenished with gifts from individuals, organizations, or private collections under the patronage of the church or any international Armenian structure. In most cases, all acquired books were saved from destruction during the Armenian Genocide. In fact, we continue the process of saving our cultural heritage,” he said.
Ter-Ghevondyan emphasized that all exhibits acquired by Matenadaran are unique, and the latest collection is no exception.
“This collection is very valuable. In the near future, it will be studied, which, in itself, is a rather lengthy process. If necessary, some of these books will be restored, sorted, and bound. All books will be digitized and displayed to visitors of Matenadaran. I think that these books will become worthy material for historians, philologists, art historians, and other scholars,” he said.
According to doctor of historical sciences Gevorg Ter-Vardanyan, all the donated books are valuable for historians as they reflect the realities of their time.
“The work of Sarkis Shnorhali written in the 12th century on Akhtamar Island is special. This is a unique interpretation of the non-canonical scriptures – the gospels of the seven apostles (in particular, Peter, Jude, and James) that did not find a place in the Bible,” he noted.