The Manuscript Collection at Deir al Surian
 
The monastery’s Library became the most important in Coptic Egypt, comparable in significance to that of the great Byzantine Imperial foundation of St Catherine on Sinai.  The earliest and most important manuscripts are in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Christ, and date back as far as the fifth century.  They include some of the earliest surviving biblical texts, as well as the works of early church fathers such as St John Chrysostom and Gregory of Nyssa of which the original Greek texts have been lost.
 
There are also very important collections in Coptic, the language of Christian Egypt deriving from that of the Pharaohs, and still used in the liturgy, in Arabic which gradually replaced Coptic after the Arab conquest of 647, and in Ethiopic.
 
The collection consists of more than one thousand manuscripts on parchment and paper. In addition there are papyrus fragments and some fifteen hundred fragments and loose folios. It is hoped, that with the help of digital technology it will be possible to join them with the manuscripts originally from the Deir al-Surian but now dispersed in Europe and the US. 
The content of the manuscripts is very diverse, ranging from biblical texts, theological and philosophical writings, homilies, to historiography and biographies of the Desert Fathers. 
 
The collection is a treasure not only for the historians and scholars of Syriac, Coptic, Christian Arabic, and Ethiopic literature and culture, but also for those interested in the development of writing materials, paper and parchment technology, scientific analysis of the earliest inks and pigments, and for anyone who wishes to get a glimpse into the earliest Christian life in these thriving monastic communities at a highly significant time in their history.
 
The Levantine Foundation registered in England 4506398, in The Arab Republic of Egypt under Law No 84 (2002). Registered charity number 1094436.