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February 20
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Aurora Humanitarian Initiative continues to support the Matenadaran, Armenia’s national repository of ancient manuscripts, with a new grant of $20,000. With these funds, the Matenadaran will commission the preparation and design of an interactive table-map of Armenian Scriptoria.

Scriptoria, or Monastic Writing Centers, have a special significance in the cultural life of the Armenian nation. They were the unique art and cultural spaces where Armenian scribes and miniaturists created and copied illuminated manuscripts.  The interactive table-map will bring together these writing centers, creating comprehensive image of Armenian manuscript culture. Having these centers in one place will deepen the understanding of the geography, history, and development of Armenian manuscript heritage in Armenia and in Armenian communities worldwide.

“Our collaboration with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is invaluable,” said Vahan Ter-Ghevondyan, director of the Matenadaran. “This new project of the interactive table-map will be a very helpful visual aid that presents the scriptoria for the spiritual and cultural centers. These advanced technological solutions are the most impactful ways of introducing this rich heritage, and its significance to global culture,” he continued.

Simply by touching the interactive map every visitor of the Matenadaran will be able to travel deep into the history of the development of the dozens of scriptoria. Individual multi-touch windows will present detailed information and images of the writing centers, as well as their brief history, geographical location, and architectural characteristics of the complexes in which they existed. Additional windows will provide information about manuscripts, such as their titles, numbers and locations, scribes and miniature artists, statistical data, and other. 

“We are delighted to continue the cooperation with the Matenadaran, the immense depository of Armenian manuscripts. These manuscripts are windows into the intellectual history of Armenia and the Western world. Aurora believes in the value of presenting the Armenian past and present within the context of global developments. This project does just that, going beyond preservation to easy and multi-layered access,” stated Vartan Gregorian, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.

This is Aurora’s fourth grant to the Matenadaran within Aurora’s Armenian Memory Act program, aimed at enhancing the preservation and use of archives and documentation of the Armenian experience. In 2015, funds from Aurora enabled the Matenadaran to purchase a special scanner to digitize manuscripts, making them more accessible for researchers and the wider public. Over 4560 manuscripts and archival documents have been digitized to date.

The 2016 grant funded the training of ten Matenadaran guides in Germany. By visiting various museums and cultural centers they learned new approaches to museum management and further developed professional skills needed for guides working in foreign languages. The 2017 grant helped Matenadaran organize more than 50 lectures on general topics in the humanities, as well as specific subjects related to the Matenadaran collection, including Medieval Studies, Manuscript Studies, historical primary sources, bibliography formation, restoration and preservation of manuscripts, and archival documents. A new brochure is currently being prepared for guides and researchers working in the Matenadaran.

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