Treasures of Knowledge: An Inventory of the Ottoman Palace Library (1502/3-1503/4) (2 vols)

Volume I: Essays / Volume II: Transliteration and Facsimile "Register of Books" (Kitāb al-kutub), MS Török F. 59; Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Könyvtára Keleti Gyűjtemény (Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)


The subject of this two-volume publication is an inventory of manuscripts in the book treasury of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, commissioned by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid II from his royal librarian ʿAtufi in the year 908 (1502–3) and transcribed in a clean copy in 909 (1503–4). This unicum inventory preserved in the Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Könyvtára Keleti Gyűjtemény, MS Török F. 59) records over 5,000 volumes, and more than 7,000 titles, on virtually every branch of human erudition at the time. The Ottoman palace library housed an unmatched encyclopedic collection of learning and literature; hence, the publication of this unique inventory opens a larger conversation about Ottoman and Islamic intellectual/cultural history. The very creation of such a systematically ordered inventory of books raises broad questions about knowledge production and practices of collecting, readership, librarianship, and the arts of the book at the dawn of the sixteenth century.
The first volume contains twenty-eight interpretative essays on this fascinating document, authored by a team of scholars from diverse disciplines, including Islamic and Ottoman history, history of science, arts of the book and codicology, agriculture, medicine, astrology, astronomy, occultism, mathematics, philosophy, theology, law, mysticism, political thought, ethics, literature (Arabic, Persian, Turkish/Turkic), philology, and epistolary. Following the first three essays by the editors on implications of the library inventory as a whole, the other essays focus on particular fields of knowledge under which books are catalogued in MS Török F. 59, each accompanied by annotated lists of entries. The second volume presents a transliteration of the Arabic manuscript, which also features an Ottoman Turkish preface on method, together with a reduced-scale facsimile.

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Gülru Necipoğlu (PhD, Harvard University, 1986) is the Aga Khan Professor and Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University. Her books include Architecture, Ceremonial and Power: The Topkapı Palace in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1991), The Topkapı Scroll: Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture (1995), and The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire (2005). She recently edited The Arts of Ornamental Geometry: A Persian Compendium on Similar and Complementary Interlocking Figures (2017) and A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture in the Wiley Blackwell Companions to Art History series (co-editor F. Barry Flood, 2017).
Cemal Kafadar (PhD, McGill University, 1987) is Professor of History and the Vehbi Koç Professor of Turkish Studies in the History Department at Harvard University. Among his publications are Between Two Worlds: The Construction of the Ottoman State (1995); a volume of essays on four “ordinary lives” and on autobiographical writing (in Turkish, 2011); and “A Rome of One’s Own: Reflections on Cultural Geography and Identity in the Lands of Rum,” Muqarnas 24 (2007) (expanded version published as a book in Turkish, 2018). He has also edited (with Halil Inalcik) Süleyman the Second and His Time (1995). His 2014 article on “the history of coffee and the nighttime” is the subject of a current book project.
Cornell H. Fleischer (PhD, Princeton University, 1982) is the Kanuni Süleyman Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies in the departments of History and of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. A 1988–93 MacArthur Fellow, he is the author, among other publications, of Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire: The Historian Mustafa Ali(1986); “The Lawgiver as Messiah,” in Soliman le magnifique et son temps (1992); “Ancient Wisdom and New Sciences,” in Falnama: The Book of Omens (2009); and “A Mediterranean Apocalypse: Prophecies of Empire in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,” JESHO 61 (2018). He also supervised post–Dayton Accord elections in the former Yugoslavia, 1996–98.
"..finding a publication that so deeply mines its core text for discussion and presents it to the reader from myriad angles rather than simply offering a facsimile or transcription bereft of analysis or contextualization is very welcome. Indeed, the book’s comprehensively cross-disciplinary nature is an impressive achievement and highlights the value of scholars from different fields working together for mutual benefit. The many subjects represented in the inventory, such as philosophy, medicine, theology, and Sufism, are capably outlined and analyzed. Much exists in these volumes that researchers in these numerous fields will find useful and interesting. However, the work will of course also be valuable to scholars in other subjects not directly represented in ʿAṭūfī’s inventory, such as library studies and the history of collections, the history of art and architecture, and women’s studies... Those desiring to publish complex primary sources should pay attention to the approach taken by the volume editors, both in terms of the wide-ranging publication itself but also to the preparatory workshop stage. Although access to the necessary resources is unfortunately not equally available across institutions, this publication demonstrates what might be achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration and a sensitivity to the contexts surrounding a primary source and its subject matter."
Cailah Jackson in: Nazariyat Volume 6, Issue 2 (2020).

"...the extensive case study presented in this publication will certainly constitute a key reference work for further research on the history of libraries in the post-medieval Ottoman and Muslim world."
Fabrizio Speziale in: Bulletin of SOAS

"...eine inhaltlich unendlich ergiebige Verzeichnis in zwei üppig illustrierten Bänden".
Klaus Kreisner in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 10, 2020.

“Netice olarak diyebiliriz ki bu envanter sadece basit bir kütüphane envanteri değil, bunun çok ötesinde tarihî değer taşıyan bir vesikadır. Treasures of Knowledge adlı eser, gerek otuzdan fazla değerli müellifi, gerek hacmi, gerek kapsamı ve derinliği açısından Türk-İslam kütüphaneleri tarihi alanına anıtsal bir katkıdır. Ayrıca eser bu tarz tarih vesika ve belgelerin nasıl çalışılması gerektiği konusunda da güzel bir örnektir. Bundan dolayı bu eserin yayınlanmış olmasını büyük bir mutlulukla karşılıyor, bir an önce Türkçeye kazandırılması ya da en azından yurdumuzun önemli kütüphanelerinde yerini almasını canı gönülden temenni ediyorum.”

Hüseyin Şen in: Yeni Şafak, October 15, 2021.

“As for the publication as a whole, it is a very wide-ranging and important contribution to Ottoman cultural studies which does indeed justify the imposing title Treasures of Knowledge.”

Muhammad Isa Waley, British Library in: The Muslim World Book Review Volume41, Issue 4 (2021).

“In sum, this two-volume set is a detailed work of philological and analytic labor, completed by a team and targeted towards specialists in Ottoman, Islamic, and Early Modern Intellectual and Literary History. Given that the inventory contains 7,200 titles in about 5,700 volumes, with many of the extant copies scattered around various collections, the task at hand was truly gargantuan. The work is thus a great service to scholarship that historians, philologists, art historians, and historians of science will make recourse to for many years to come. Moreover, for anyone who would like to browse the library of an Ottoman sultan, these volumes offer them their chance.”

Henry Shapiro, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute in: Early Science and Medicine Volume 26, Issue 3 (2021).


Overview and Significance of the Palace Library Inventory
 1. Gülru Necipoğlu, The Organization of Knowledge in the Ottoman Palace Library: An Encyclopedic Collection and Its Inventory 
 2. Cemal Kafadar, Between Amasya and Istanbul: Bayezid II, His Librarian, and the Textual Turn of the Late Fifteenth Century 
 3. Cornell H. Fleischer, Learning and Sovereignty in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries 

The Palace Library as a Collection and the Book Arts
 4. Zeynep Atbaş, Artistic Aspects of Sultan Bayezid II’s Book Treasury Collection: Extant Volumes Preserved at the Topkapı Palace Museum Library 
 5. Zeren Tanındı, Arts of the Book: The Illustrated and Illuminated Manuscripts Listed in ʿAtufi’s Inventory 
 6. Judith Pfeiffer, Prizing the Divan: The Early Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Literary Canon as Mirrored in the Inventories of Müeyyedzade’s and Bayezid II’s Library Collections  

Book Titles and Their Disciplines in the Palace Library Inventory
 7. Mohsen Goudarzi, Books on Exegesis (tafsīr) and Qurʾanic Readings (qirāʾāt): Inspiration, Intellect, and the Interpretation of Scripture in Post-Classical Islam  
 8. Recep Gürkan Göktaş, On the Hadith Collection of Bayezid II’s Palace Library  
 9. Guy Burak, The Section on Prayers, Invocations, Unique Qualities of the Qurʾan, and Magic Squares in the Palace Library Inventory 
 10. Abdurrahman Atçıl, The kalām (Rational Theology) Section in the Palace Library Inventory 
 11. Himmet Taşkömür, Books on Islamic Jurisprudence, Schools of Law, and Biographies of Imams of the Hanafi School 
 12. Mürteza Bedir, Books on Islamic Legal Theory (uṣūl al-fiqh) 
 13. Cemal Kafadar and Ahmet Karamustafa, Books on the Lives of Saints, Sufism, and Sermons 
 14. Hüseyin Yılmaz, Books on Ethics and Politics: The Art of Governing the Self and Others at the Ottoman Court  
 15. Nükhet Varlık, Books on Medicine: Medical Knowledge at Work 
 16. Aleksandar Shopov, “Books on Agriculture (al-filāḥa) Pertaining to Medical Science” and Ottoman Agricultural Science and Practice around 1500 
 17. Cornell H. Fleischer and Kaya Şahin, On the Works of a Historical Nature in the Bayezid II Library Inventory  
 18. Pınar Emiralioğlu, Books on the Wonders of Creation and Geography in ʿAtufi’s Inventory  
 19. Tahera Qutbuddin, Books on Arabic Philology and Literature: A Teaching Collection Focused on Religious Learning and the State Chancery  
 20. Sooyong Kim, An Ottoman Order of Persian Verse 
 21. Christopher Markiewicz, Books on the Secretarial Arts and Literary Prose 
 22. Ferenc Csirkés, Turkish/Turkic Books of Poetry, Turkish and Persian Lexicography: The Politics of Language under Bayezid II 
 23. Noah Gardiner, Books on Occult Sciences 
 24. A. Tunç Şen and Cornell H. Fleischer, Books on Astrology, Practical Astronomy, and Celestial Magic 
 25. Jamil Ragep and The McGill Astral Science Team, Astronomical and Other Mathematical Sciences in ʿAtufi’s Inventory of Bayezid II’s Library  
 26. Elaheh Kheirandish, Books on Mathematical and Mixed-Mathematical Sciences: Arithmetic, Geometry, Optics, and Mechanics 
 27. Khaled El-Rouayheb, Books on Logic (manṭiq) and Dialectics (jadal) 
 28. Dimitri Gutas, Philosophical Manuscripts: Two Alternative Philosophies 

Appendix I-III: Some Identified Manuscripts Stamped with Bayezid II’s Seal
 APPENDIX I: Zeynep Atbaş, Preliminary List of Manuscripts Stamped with Bayezid II’s Seal in the Topkapı Palace Museum Library 
 APPENDIX II: Zeren Tanındı, Preliminary List of Manuscripts Stamped with Bayezid II’s Seal and Transferred from the Topkapı Palace Inner Treasury to Other Library Collections 
 APPENDIX III WITH PLATES FROM MANUSCRIPTS AT THE TOPKAPI PALACE MUSEUM LIBRARY: Gülru Necipoğlu, Some Books Bearing the Seal of Bayezid II and/or Dedications to Him: A Comparison of Titles Inscribed by His Librarian and Corresponding Entries in the Library Inventory 
Appendix IV-V: English Translations of the Librarian ʿAtufi’s Ottoman Turkish and Arabic Prefaces to the Palace Library Inventory
 APPENDIX IV: Gülru Necipoğlu, Translation of ʿAtufi’s Ottoman Turkish Preface to the Palace Library Inventory 
 APPENDIX V: Mohsen Goudarzi, Translation of ʿAtufi’s Arabic Preface to the Palace Library Inventory 

MS Török F. 59, Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Könyvtára Keleti Gyűjtemény
(Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)

 Principles Observed in Transliterating MS Török F. 59 
 Transliterated Text of MS Török F. 59, prepared by Himmet Taşkömür and Hesna Ergun Taşkömür 
 Facsimile of MS Török F. 59 
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