The last week of September, 33 graduate students and faculty members took part in the third summer school on Ethiopian and Eritrean manuscript studies organized by the Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies (Hamburg). This year, for the first time, thanks to generous support from the Volkswagen Stiftung, the event did not take place in Germany but in Mekelle, Ethiopia, and was organized in cooperation with the St Yared Centre for Ethiopian Philology (Mekelle). The venue was the Axum Hotel.
The summer school had been designed to be accessible to a diverse public and did not require previous knowledge in Ge’ez or in any other language of Ethiopia. The event included both theoretical lectures and practical workshops.
The first two days (September 24-25) were dedicated to theoretical presentations. Monday’s lectures included introductions to Ethiopian and Eritrean studies, their methodology and tools, Ethiopian manuscript studies, and codicology and palaeography of Gǝ’ǝz manuscripts. Tuesday comported lectures on Gǝ’ǝz philology and literature, and it ended with four presentations on work-in-progress by summer school participants: Stanislau Paulau (University of Göttingen), Alex Dally MacFarlane (University of Oxford/British Library), Yonas Yilma (Addis Ababa University/ARCCH) and Yeneneh Tariku (Addis Ababa University/Haramaya University).
On the morning of September 26, the participants were introduced to digital resources and TEI XML for Ethiopian manuscript studies. The afternoon of the same day was dedicated to Islamic literature in Ethiopia and Islamic Ethiopian manuscript studies.
September 27 started with theoretical presentations on manuscript cataloguing. Then, in the afternoon, the attendees were split into groups and worked on two Ethiopian manuscripts (in PDF format) which they had to catalogue and describe codicologically, as well as from the point of view of textual content.
This exercise continued in the morning of September 28. Afterwards, the participants were able to have a first-hand experience of the digitization of two Ethiopians manuscripts, with the material that researchers usually resort to when they visit Ethiopian churches or monasteries: sophisticated enough to enable them to take high-quality pictures, but light enough to be carried on even up to monasteries that are difficult to access, e.g. on the top of a mountain.
The last day, September 29, was dedicated to art history and the conservation of manuscripts. The event was closed by a farewell address of Professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot, President of Mekelle University.
The summer school was followed by the International Congress of Ethiopian Studies (1-5 October 2018), which was also organized in Mekelle. Many of the participants therefore prolonged their stay in order to attend both events.