Recovery of over 400 historic texts hidden in ISIS-occupied monastery

Over 400 historic texts dated between the 13th and 20th were recovered at the Mar Behnam monastery, which was occupied by ISIS for more than two years. The books were hidden in metal bins behind a brick wall.

Teksts were put in metal bins (by Amjed Tareq Hano via Live Science)

Constructed more than 1500 years ago The Mar Behnam monastery, or Monastery of the Martyrs Mar Behnam and his sister Sarah, was a Syriac Catholic monastery in northern Iraq. It was destroyed on March 19, 2015 and occupied for two years by ISIS until November this year. The texts were hidden before the occupation. During the occupation ISIS terrorists destroyed some of the monastery’s buildings, burned what texts they could find, defaced and destroyed the monastery’s artwork and inscriptions, and wrote graffiti over the surviving structures.

Breaking down the wall behind which the manuscripts were hidden (by Amjed Tareq Hano via Live Science)
Recovery of over 400 texts (by Amjed Tareq Hano via Live Science)

The texts are said to have been hidden in a storage room about a month before the terrorists captured the place. They were stored in metal barrels and placed behind a wall, where they remained hidden for more than two years. As ISIS did not destroy the particular building, which served as headquarters of the so-called “morality police”, it was possible to recover the artefacts after Mar Behnam was recaptured in November 2016, by an Iraqi Christian unit that is helping fight ISIS.

A comparison of the different gospels dated to 1653 AD (by Amjed Tareq Hano via Live Science)
The genealogy of Jesus Christ dated to 1653 AD (by Amjed Tareq Hano via Live Science)

More than 400 texts, dating between the 13th and 20th centuries, were saved. The texts include many bibles and liturgical materials as well as some dictionaries. The texts are written in a variety of languages including Syriac, Arabic, Turkish and Neo-Aramaic. Among them are a liturgical text called the “Memre of Ascetics”, dated to 1231 AD, a carefully illustrated comparison of the different gospels dated to 1653 AD, and a 1653 AD text describing the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The texts were taken to an undisclosed secure location but their future remains uncertain.

Texts were taken to an undisclosed secure location (by Amjed Tareq Hano via Live Science)

(after Live Science & Amjed Tareq Hano )

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