Exhibition: Languages of God: Sacred Scripts of Ethiopia and Eritrea

languages of god

27 July 2019 — 13 October 2019

Weston Library, Broad Street,

Oxford OX1 3BG

Venue: Blackwell Hall, Weston Library (Map)

Booking: Free admission

Information desk: 01865 277094


The collection of Ethiopic manuscripts in the Bodleian Library in Oxford is one of the most significant in Europe. Members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities from Oxford, London, and Milton Keynes have worked with the Bodleian to co-curate this display which will help us to find out more about these precious books and manuscripts and share them with the public.

The event is part of an ongoing Bodleian Libraries project in partnership with the Faculty of Classics and the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, and is supported by the John Fell Fund and The Helen Hamlyn Trust.

Events so far have included an initial scoping meeting in July 2017, a family day in July 2018,and a study day in September 2018.

An activity day celebrating the culture of Ethiopia and Eritrea will mark the opening of the display on July 27. The activities will include:

  • Talks
  • Manuscript viewing
  • Ge‘ez writing and letterpress printing
  • Storytelling
  • Bookbinding workshops
  • Musical performances
  • Activities for children

The new volume Treasures of Ethiopia and Eritrea in the Bodleian Library, Oxford edited by Jacopo Gnisci and published as part of the late Dr Judith McKenzie’s ERC project “Monumental Art of the Christian and Early Islamic East” will be available in the Bodleian Shop at a discounted price of £12.

For more information about the project, or to join the mailing list, please email ethiopia-eritrea@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.



11.30 – 12.00

Ancient Ge’ez Manuscripts: A Public Engagement Project

Dr Mai Musié

In this talk Dr Musié will provide an overview of the collaborative project on ancient Ge‘ez manuscripts housed in the Bodleian Libraries. Dr Musié will trace the original idea of the project, discuss its goals and objectives, and the legacy it leaves behind in terms of the methods used and the audiences reached.

12.00 – 12.30

The Bodleian's Ethiopic manuscripts

Dr Sebastian Brock, FBA

The talk will outline the history of the Bodleian Library's collection of Ethiopic manuscripts and the various stages by which it has grown.

14.00 – 14.30

Manuscripts of Ethiopia and Eritrea

Dr Jacopo Gnisci

This talk will offer an overview of the birth of a manuscript culture in Ethiopia and Eritrea in the Aksumite Kingdom during late antiquity. It will look at the cultural exchanges between the Aksumite Kingdom and its neighbours, at the translation of texts into classical Ethiopic, and at the birth of a tradition of manuscript illustration.