Colophons of Armenian manuscripts


The project aims to study the stereotypical patterns (formulae) found in Armenian colophons and to ascertain how they inform us about the practices of book copying and manuscript circulation in mediaeval Armenia. While this particular aspect of colophon writing has already been the object of some systematic attention in other languages, mainly Greek and Latin, in Armenian it has remained largely overlooked until now. This may be imputed to the overall richness of Armenian colophons, which rightfully directed scholarly endeavour towards their literary, historical, cultural etc. content.

However, the remarkable worth of Armenian colophons also extends to the domain of formulae. With the assistance of natural language processing techniques, a computerized corpus encompassing the colophon collection edited at the Matenadaran between 1950 and 1988 (digitally available at is maintained and exploited. A panel of representative formulae are being studied, on the one hand in their structure, lexical content and variation, on the other hand in their historical and geographical distribution and development.

The purpose is to shed an original light on the history and functioning of writing centres through identification of copying traditions reflected in the formulae. Besides, such analysis may help assessing the likely provenance of some manuscript otherwise unattributed, whilst cross-cultural comparison should allow, at a later stage, to situate Armenian formulae within the broader context of Mediaeval book culture.

Anyone having recorded colophons that have not been included in the Matenadaran corpus is very welcome to contact us (, as they may prove extremely useful for the ongoing research.

Promoteur académique : Professeur Bernard Coulie
Chercheur concerné : Emmanuel Van Elverdinghe (aspirant FNRS)