Since 2009, HMML and its partners have digitized over 5,000 manuscripts in Iraq. From 2004—2012, HMML digitized almost 3,000 manuscripts in Syria until conditions made further work impossible.
“No one knows when and if the situation in Syria and Iraq will improve,” said the Rev. Columba Stewart, OSB, executive director of the HMML. “We are all grateful that HMML was able to begin work several years before these most recent conflicts.”
HMML established contact in Iraq in 2009 with the Rev. Nageeb Michaeel, OP, of the Dominican Friars of Mosul. Michaeel had begun to digitize manuscripts some years earlier, but his Digital Center for Eastern Manuscripts needed an international partner.
During the past six years, HMML has provided equipment, technician training, digital archiving, cataloging and scholar services. HMML staff have visited Iraq several times, and Michaeel spent three months in Collegeville in 2013. Michaeel has gathered manuscripts from across Iraq, brought them to his center for cleaning and digitization, and returned them to their owners along with a copy of the digital images.