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Interview with head of the department of main list and manuscripts of Matenadaran – Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, the main depositary Gevorg Ter-Vardanyan

– Losses of Armenian manuscripts are quite large. Some were naturally, when the books because of long-term use, become dilapidated. People even organized the funeral of such books. And unnatural way was during the barbarian invasions of nomadic tribes. Historian Stepanos Orbelian wrote that in 1170 the Seljuks occupied Baghaberd, burned 10 thousand handwritten volumes. For comparison, now in the Matenadaran 11278 manuscripts are stored. The biggest loss of Armenian manuscripts was in the 1890s and in 1915. We can assume that this figure is 30 thousand. This is almost equal to the number of Armenian manuscripts in the world – 31 thousand.

1960-80 years can be considered a period of replenishing the store of Matenadaran, where many members of the Diaspora presented Armenian manuscripts to the Matenadaran and new Matenadaran of the Holy See of Echmiadzin. During one year we received 100-150 units of manuscripts. The largest acquisition was the gift from Harutyun Hazaryan from New York City – 390 manuscripts, all of them were from Western Armenia. Another Armenian Harutyun Kyurdyan for life collected 300 manuscripts and bequeathed the Mekhitarist Congregation in Venice.

Many manuscripts are kept in museums in Turkey, but we can try to get them only when between us diplomatic relations are established, otherwise we’ll get a negative response. If the Turks are so cynic to say that their archives are open, and Armenian archives – no, they will say very easily that they don’t have Armenian manuscripts. Meanwhile, we have the exact facts that these manuscripts were not destroyed but were sent to an unknown destination. For example, in Ankara, we had the church of St. Mary, there were 250 manuscripts, 50 of them are now in the archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkey. I think that in the return of these treasures should work Armenians – experts in international law. The return of cultural values is the most important requirement of compensation.


Category: #21(1090) 4.06.2015 – 10.06.2015, Spiritual-Cultural, News, Spotlight