Forschungsbibliothek Gotha


The Oriental manuscript collection of Forschungsbibliothek Gotha comprises more than 3,500 volumes and is the third largest collection of its kind in Germany. The collection was assembled primarily in the early 19th century. It covers a diverse spectrum of Islamic scholarship and includes works from theology and jurisprudence, medicine and natural history, as well as grammar, lexicography and literature, in addition to historical and biographical texts.

Collection history

The first manuscripts entered the library in the second half of the 17th century through acquisitions such as the scholarly library of the Jena theologian Johann Ernst Gerhard (1621−1668). Under the Dukes of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg Ernst II (1745-1804) and August (1772−1822) acquisition was further encouraged. Both funded the research trips of the natural scientist Ulrich Jasper Seetzen (1767−1811) and commissioned him to acquire manuscripts as well as interesting "natural and artistic products" in order to expand the collection, which until then had been small and consisted mainly of copies of the Qurʾān and prayer books. During his nine-year journey through the Middle East, Seetzen acquired a total of around 2,700 manuscripts for the dukes, mainly in Arabic, Turkish and Persian. This way, not only renowned works, but also numerous unique or rare testimonies of everyday culture reached Gotha.