About the Middle East & Central Asia Collection
The print collections include material on:
The Middle East (including Egypt)
- The Arab World
- Iran (ancient and modern)
- Turkey and the Ottoman Empire
- The Caucasus
- Afghanistan and Central Asia
- Material in and about Arabic, Persian, Turkic and Caucasian languages and dialects
- Islam (general and within the region)
- Zoroastrian, Bahaist, Christian and Jewish communities within the region
The following sections contain material that may also be of interest:
We welcome suggestions for new purchases from Library members. Please complete the recommendation forms.
Print Collection classmarks and location
In SOAS, classmarks are composed of a:
LETTER CODE (for language, country or topics) +
SUBJECT (Dewey Decimal Number) +
3 first letters of authors (optional) +
ITEM NUMBER (unique to each item)
Eg: P892.736HAQ/913826 = Fiction in Arabic (or translated from the Arabic) from the 20th century by Yaḥyá Ḥaqqī.
P = Arabic material
892.7 = Arabic literature
3 = fiction
6 = 20th century
HAQ = first 3 letters of author’s surname
/913826 = Item number
Selected list of letter codes in use in the Middle East and Central Asia collections
NB. Books prefixed L or Ref are separately located
Middle East NB Central Asia O-OX Islamica N Abkhazia OCA Arabs NR Arabian Peninsula NC Arabian Gulf Region NK Armenia OC Azerbaijan OD Caucasia O Caucasian peoples OH Crimea OJ Daghestan OAC Egypt NE Ex-Ottoman colonies NSA-NSF Georgia OG Iran NT Iranian Peoples NV Iraq NQ Jordan NN Kurdistan NU Lebanon NO Mediterranean Islands QU Oman NJA Palestine QJA Saudi Arabia NL Southern Yemen NH Spain (Andalus) NX Syria NP Tatarstan OUB Turkey NS Turkic peoples OX United Arab Emirates NJ Yemen NG
Arabic P Arabic dialects PA Armenian PE Azerbaijani PRB Caucasian languages PG Epigraphic Arabian PB Georgian PJA Iranian languages PL Maltese PC Modern Persian (Farsi) PM North Caucasian languages PH Other Iranian languages PN Persian dialects PMA-PMF South Caucasian languages PJ Turkic languages PP-PU Turkish PRA Uralo-Altaic languages PV-PWF
For a full listing of classmarks and their location, please see the Location List
Part of the collection is held in offsite storage. See the Location List for details of classmarks.
Items showing with the location 'Dagenham Store' can be requested online via the library catalogue using the 'reserve' button.
Items marked 'Egham Store' and other periodicals can be requested using paper slips at the Enquiry Desk or by contacting a member of library staff.
The print reference collections are shelved in separate sequences and their classmark bear the prefix REF. Check the location list for details.
• Atlases & Gazetters
• Biographies & Directories
• Catalogues of Manuscripts
• Encyclopaedias & Dictionaries
The SOAS collections relating to the Middle East and Central Asia are unique in that while the British Library and the Bodleian Library at Oxford University have similar coverage, only SOAS Library keeps the bulk of its materials on open access and thus available to browse or borrow.
The Islamic Middle East covers a very wide area both geographically, stretching over three continents, and linguistically, with languages that are spoken from the western tip of North Africa to the farthest reaches of Siberia.
For more information see SOAS Library: Why is it special?
Yale-SOAS Islamic Manuscript Gallery (YS-IMG) Digitization Project
This project was a pilot to create an archive of and a gateway to Islamic manuscripts. The materials selected comprise important manuscripts, related manuscript catalogues and language dictionaries held separately in their two library collections. The digital collection is now available via the SOAS Digital Archives and Special Collections website
Manuscripts and rare books
The Library possesses over 400 Arabic manuscripts, some 400 Persian and 45 Turkish, and a few in Coptic and Ethiopic. Some of these are especially rare and beautiful, the finest example being perhaps Husayn Va’iz Kashifi’s Anvar-i Suhayli which contains 27 exquisite Persian miniatures. Other manuscripts are interesting for their illustrations and calligraphy, particularly some of the Qur’an, and for their history, such as the Persian Guide of Kings composed by Jeronimo Xavier, S.J., and addressed to the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, in 1609 A.D.
In addition, the Library was able to acquire microfilm copies of the remaining five books needed to complete its holdings of the limited editions from the press of that most fascinating printer, Ibrahim Muteferrika, a Hungarian by birth who fell into slavery but later became the founder of the very first Turkish press in Istanbul in 1729.
The personal bookplate of Ras Tafari (afterwards Emperor Haile Selassie I) is to be found on several early printed Ethiopian works.
Rare Persian map collection
A significant collection of specialist maps of Persia has been donated to the Centre for Iranian Studies at SOAS by Dr Cyrus Ala'I in early 2013.
In recent years the Library has been building up its collections of unpublished documents and records, in addition to individual manuscripts and such papers as came with original collections like those of William Marsden. The extensive missionary records which have been received are concerned with areas other than the Middle East, but some personal archives should certainly be noted.
- The Paget Collection comprises papers of William Paget, sixth Lord Paget, Ambassador Extraordinary to Turkey, 1693-1702 and 1705-06, and were deposited on permanent loan by the Marquess of Anglesey in 1964.
- The papers of Lt.-Col. D.L.R. Lorimer (1876-1962) cover historical, geographical and particularly linguistic topics arising out of his career in India and southern Persia.
- The archives of General Fereydoun Djam (1914-2008) were donated to the Library Special Collections in 2012. They are composed of publications, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, audio cassette tapes, artwork, artefacts, and span over five decades (ca.1950-2002), hence bringing great support to Iran historiographical studies.
Check the Library catalogue and A-Z Electronic Journals for more information
Here is an indicative list of well-established publications on Middle Eastern and Central Asian studies:
Arab studies quarterly
Available via EBSCOhost; 1990 onwards
Available via EBSCOhost; 1999 up to 12 months ago http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=C0W&site=ehost-live
British journal of Middle Eastern studies
Available via JSTOR; 1991 to 3 years ago. Available via EBSCOhost; 1996 to 12 months ago http://uk.jstor.org/journals/13530194.html
Central Asian survey
Available via EBSCOhost; 1999 up to 12 months ago http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=55K&site=ehost-live
Die Welt des Islams
Available via EBSCOhost; 1999 up to 12 months ago http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=C6V&site=ehost-live
Edebiyat: journal of Middle Eastern literatures
Available via EBSCOhost; 1997 onwards http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=7VV&site=ehost-live
International journal of Middle East studies
Available via JSTOR; 1970 up to 5 years ago.
Iran & the Caucasus
Available via EBSCOhost; 2001 up to 12 months ago http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=ED3&site=ehost-live
Available via EBSCOhost; 2001 up to 12 months ago http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=ED4&site=ehost-live
Journal of Arabic literature
Available via EBSCOhost; 1999 up to 12 months ago http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=C3H&site=ehost-live
Journal of Muslim minority affairs
Available via EBSCOhost; 1996 up to 12 months ago http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=LMM&site=ehost-live
Journal of Near Eastern studies
Available via JSTOR; 1942 up to 5 years ago
Journal of Near and Middle Eastern Studies
Published from 2010 onwards by the Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations Students' Union at the University of Toronto, this annual open-access journal showcases undergraduate academic papers on all aspects of the region's history and culture from ancient Mesopotamia to the present day http://groups.chass.utoronto.ca/nmcsu/journal.html
Journal of Palestine studies
Available via JSTOR; 1971 up to 5 years ago; EBSCOhost; 1993 onwards.
Continued by Middle East report. Available via JSTOR; 1986-1988
Continued by MERIP Middle East report. Available via JSTOR; 1971-1985
Available via EBSCOhost; 2000 onwards http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=MLE&site=ehost-live
Middle East Economic Digest
Available via EBSCOhost; 2003 onwards http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&jid=MDI&site=ehost-live
Middle East quarterly
Available via EBSCOhost; 1999 onwards http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=E15&site=ehost-live
Middle East report
Middle East report (continues MERIP). Available via JSTOR; 1988 up to 3 years http://uk.jstor.org/journals/08992851.html
Available via EBSCOhost; 2000 up to 12 months ago http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=MUW&site=ehost-live
Palestine- Israel: journal of politics
Available via EBSCOhost; 2001 onwards http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=FU1&site=ehost-live
MERIA: Middle East review of International Affairs
Freely available; 1997 onwards
See the AMIR blog for an Alphabetical List of Open Access Journals in Middle Eastern Studies