University of Erfurt

Welcome to the Gotha Research Library

Manuscripts: Oriental: The Oriental manuscript collection of the Gotha Research Library

Ibn al-Wardi, Cosmography, copied around 1700. FB Gotha, Ms. orient. A 1514, fol. 1b/2a.

Significance of the collection

The Research Library Gotha harbors the country's third largest Oriental manuscript collection comprising more than 3,500 codices. It took shape mainly in the early 19th century. Covering all branches of Islamic scholarship, the subjects represented in the collection range from theology and jurisprudence, to grammar, lexicography and literature, up to history, geography and nature study.

History of the collection

The first oriental manuscripts arrived at Gotha library as endowments, as presents to the dukes or as part of the Gerhardina, the library of the theologian Johann Ernst Gerhard (1621-1668). The turning point for the collection came when the dukes of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Ernest II. (1745-1804) and August (1772-1822) decided to commission the scientist Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1767-1811) with the purchase of objects of natural history, Oriental manuscripts and antiquities from the Middle East and Africa. Seetzen spent nine years exploring the Middle East and purchased approximately 2.700, mainly Arabic, Turkish and Persian, manuscripts for his patrons. After Seetzen's death in Yemen the collection was catalogued and enlarged through further acquisitions by the Orientalist and librarian Wilhelm Pertsch (1832-1899). Manuscripts acquired over the last years complement the collection.


  • Manuscripts acquired before the year 2000 are completely catalogued in Printed Catalogues.
  • Manuscripts acquired after 2000 as well as manuscripts already described in the printed catalogues are continuously indexed online:
  • Database of Oriental Manuscripts at Gotha Research Library
    At present, the database indexes more than 600 manuscripts, more than 450 of these fully digitized.


  • Wilhelm Pertsch: Orientalist und Bibliothekar; zum 100. Todestag
    / hrsg. von Hans Stein. - 1999. - 146p. - Ill. - ISBN 3-910027-15-6 (Veröffentlichungen der Forschungsbibliothek Gotha ; 38) Table of Contents (pdf)
  • Orientalische Buchkunst in Gotha: Ausstellung zum 350jährigen Jubiläum der Forschungs- und Landesbibliothek Gotha; Spiegelsaal 11. September 1997 bis 14. Dezember 1997
    / [Gesamtred.: Hans Stein]. - 1997. - 252p., with numerous illustrations. - ISBN 3-910027-12-1, Table of Contents (pdf)
  • Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1767-1811): Leben und Werk: Die arabischen Länder und die Nahostforschung im napoleonischen Zeitalter. Vorträge des Kolloquiums vom 23. u. 24. Sept. 1994 in der Forschungs- und Landesbibliothek Gotha, Schloß Friedenstein. - 1995. - 189p.: Ill. - ISBN 3-910027-09-1 (Veröffentlichungen der Forschungs- und Landesbibliothek Gotha; 33) Table of Contents (pdf)
  • Wilhelm Pertsch 1832-1899: Der wissenschaftliche Briefnachlaß des Gothaer Orientalisten und Bibliothekars  / verz. und erschlossen von Helmut Roob und Ekkehard Rudolph. - 1984. - 112p. : Ill. (Veröffentlichungen der Forschungsbibliothek Gotha; 22).

The manuscripts can be accessed in the special reading room after registration. Please take into consideration that for conservation reasons the library in some cases provides only microfilms or digital scans.



User menu and language choice