Syriaca.org: The Syriac Reference Portal is a collaborative research project publishling online reference works concerning the culture, history, and literature of Syriac communities from antiquity to the present. The online publications of Syriaca.org serve a broad scholarly audience including students of Middle Eastern studies, classics, medieval history, religious studies, biblical studies, and linguistics. In addition, Syriaca.org exists to provide Syriac heritage communities and the interested general public with access to scholarly information about Syriac cultures and their histories.

What is Syriac?

Syriac is a language which once flourished on the Mesopotamian plateau. A dialect of Aramaic, Syriac was widely used during much of the first millenium of the common era. Syriac speaking communities could be found in what today would be Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, India, Central Asia, China, and Mongolia. Sources in Syriac hold immense value for increasing our historical understanding of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia. In particular, Syriac sources document key moments in the development and interaction of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other religions of Late Antiquity. Learn more…

Online Resources

The publications of Syriaca.org combine emerging methods in the field of digital humanities with the rigour of traditional genres in history and philology. Several digital reference works are currently in preparation:

Published Projects:

  • The Syriac Gazetteer is a dictionary of historical geography concerning places related to Syriac studies. It was published in 2014.

Forthcoming Projects:

Note: unedited drafts of these publications are already available online at the links below. Users should not treat these links as final publications however.

  • Clavis Syriaca is a two volume reference guide to Syriac authors and their works for use in cataloguing Syriac literature. The first part is currently in draft as A Guide to Syriac Authors and has also been serialized as part of The Virtual International Authority File. A second volume (planned but not yet in preparation) will be A Guide to Syriac Literature.
  • Syriac Biographical Dictionary (SBD) is a reference work and authority file which aims to create URIs for all persons of interest to linked data for Syriac studies. This work includes as subsets of it's data both A Guide to Syriac Authors (see above) and Qadishe: Guide to the Syriac Saints (see below).
  • Gateway to the Syriac Saints is a two volume reference guide to Syriac saints and their vitae. Volume I: Taseyata describes texts written about saints and includes information about different versions and data such as the title, prologue, and epilogue of the saint's life, along with the hagiographer. Volume II: Qadishe contains information on persons relevant to the study of Syriac hagiography include the saints themselves (such as St. Simeon the Stylite) as well as their associates and the authors who narrated their lives or wrote homilies and hymns about them.
  • SPEAR: Syriac Persons Events and Relations is a factoid-based prosopographical tool similar to the The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (PASE). SPEAR is designed to provide information about persons and their relationships within the context of historical events.
  • Digital Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Library: A digital catalogue of Syriac manuscripts using the TEI XML standards for manuscript cataloguing.
  • A Union Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts: A digital catalogue of Syriac manuscripts following the model of the Fihrist union catalogue. A visualization for this project has not yet been drafted.

All publications of Syriaca.org are made available online in a free and open format using the Creative Commons licenses. Draft data for in-process publications is available in a public Github repository.

In later development, we will open these resources up for collaborative augmentation and annotation by scholars around the globe. Learn more…

Funding for Syriaca.org was provided by:

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or any of the other sponsors.