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SOAS Library

About the Middle East & Central Asia Collection

  • Print Collection

    Print Collections

    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

    Countries/Regions

    Class Mark

    Middle EastNB
    Central AsiaO-OX
    IslamicaN
    AbkhaziaOCA
    ArabsNR
    Arabian PeninsulaNC
    Arabian Gulf RegionNK
    ArmeniaOC
    AzerbaijanOD
    CaucasiaO
    Caucasian peoplesOH
    CrimeaOJ
    DaghestanOAC
    EgyptNE
    Ex-Ottoman coloniesNSA-NSF
    GeorgiaOG
    IranNT
    Iranian PeoplesNV
    IraqNQ
    JordanNN
    KurdistanNU
    LebanonNO
    Mediterranean IslandsQU
    OmanNJA
    PalestineQJA
    Saudi ArabiaNL
    Southern YemenNH
    Spain (Andalus)NX
    SyriaNP
    TatarstanOUB
    TurkeyNS
    Turkic peoplesOX
    United Arab EmiratesNJ
    YemenNG

    Languages

    Class Mark

    ArabicP
    Arabic dialectsPA
    ArmenianPE
    AzerbaijaniPRB
    Caucasian languagesPG
    Epigraphic ArabianPB
    GeorgianPJA
    Iranian languagesPL
    MaltesePC
    Modern Persian (Farsi)PM
    North Caucasian languagesPH
    Other Iranian languagesPN
    Persian dialectsPMA-PMF
    South Caucasian languagesPJ
    Turkic languagesPP-PU
    TurkishPRA
    Uralo-Altaic languagesPV-PWF

    Full list of letter codes for the Middle East & Central Asia

    For a full listing of classmarks and their location, please see the Location List

    Offsite Collections

    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.

  • Reference Collection

    The print reference collections are shelved in separate sequences and their classmark bear the prefix  REF. Check the location list for details.
    They include:
    • Atlases & Gazetters
    • Biographies & Directories
    • Catalogues of Manuscripts
    • Encyclopaedias & Dictionaries

  • Notable Collentions

    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

  • Special Collections
    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.

    Personal papers

    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.
  • Journals

    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
    http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&jid=AQT&site=ehost-live

    Arabica

    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.
    http://uk.jstor.org/journals/00207438.html

    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

    Iranica antiqua

    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
    http://www.jstor.org/journals/00222968.html

    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.
    http://uk.jstor.org/journals/0377919X.html

    MERIP
    Continued by Middle East report. Available via JSTOR; 1986-1988
    http://uk.jstor.org/journals/08880328.html

    MERIP reports
    Continued by MERIP Middle East report. Available via JSTOR; 1971-1985
    http://uk.jstor.org/journals/00477265.html

    Middle East

    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

    Muslim World

    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
    http://meria.idc.ac.il/

    See the AMIR blog for an Alphabetical List of Open Access Journals in Middle Eastern Studies