Arabic manuscripts abound in notes: readers scribbled notes recording their reading
of the text, teachers issued certifi cates and licences of transmission, owners stated their legal ownership of the manuscript, users praised (or dispraised) the text, copyists added their verses and endowers set down their conditions. This copious material represents a unique resource for widening our understanding of Middle Eastern societies and for studying a variety of fi elds, such as social history, history of ideas, economic history, urban history, historical topography and biographical studies. This is the fi rst volume that is specifi cally dedicated to discussing the potential of this source material. The eleven contributors, among them some of the leading researchers in this fi eld, discuss case studies that date from the classical period to the 20th century and that originate in the different regions of the Middle East from Anatolia to Yemen and from North Africa to Iraq. The contributions collected in this volume show that the study of manuscript notes has set off to new horizons and that it will enhance our knowledge about societies in the region.
Andreas Görke, Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Edinburgh is the author of Das Kitāb al-Amwāl des Abū ʿUbaid al-Qāsim b. Sallām: Entstehung und Überlieferung eines frühislamischen Rechtswerkes (2003) and coauthor
of Die ältesten Berichte über das Leben Muh.ammads: Das Korpus ʿUrwa ibn az-Zubair (2008).
Konrad Hirschler, Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London is the author of Medieval Arabic Historiography: Authors as Actors (2006) and The Written Word in the Medieval Arabic Lands: A Social and Cultural History of Reading Practices (2012).