“North Iraq: Salvage and Conservation of Manuscripts in Times of Peril”
Lecture by Dr. Nikolas Sarris, paper conservator at the National Library of Greece
This presentation discusses the mission for salvage and conservation of manuscripts from North Iraq, endangered by the war conflict with the Islamic State and the devasting results of vandalism on Christian monasteries and churches. An unexpected experience was to visit the war zone outside Mosul, in search of known collections of manuscripts from recently re-occupied towns, churches and monasteries in the area, after their two-year capture by the Islamic State and their extended vandalism. The witnesses, the identification of destroyed manuscripts within ruins but also the hopeful salvage of others describe the bitter outcome of this war and its impact on the cultural heritage of this historically rich land.
Dr Nikolas Sarris is a book and paper conservator at the National Library of Greece. He has been a lecturer of book and paper conservation at undergraduate courses in Greece, as well as a conservator at the British Library and the monastery of St John Theologian, Patmos, Greece, where he also organized the international Patmos Workshops on Conservation and Historic Bookbinding. He was part of the St Catherine’s Library Conservation Project team since 2001 and has collaborated as a freelance conservator and researcher in international manuscript conservation, training and research projects in Egypt, Iraq, Ethiopia, Greece, UK, Turkey. He has lectured widely on the topics of manuscript conservation and on historic bookbindings. He received his PhD from the University of the Arts London on the study of tool decorated bookbindings from the Monastery of St Catherine in Sinai, Egypt.