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Scope & Size of the Schøyen Collection

This checklist is a work in progress and is privately maintained.

It is a resource for students, academics, research institutions, publishers and all others with an interest in advancing the study of human culture and civilization, regardless of nationality, race or religion.

The Collection is also a means to preserve and protect for posterity a wide range of written expressions of belief, knowledge and understanding from many different cultures throughout the ages.

The Schøyen Collection comprises most types of manuscripts from the whole world spanning over 5000 years. It is the largest private manuscript collection formed in the 20th century.

The whole collection, MSS 1-5426, comprises 13,717 manuscript items, including 2,269 volumes. 6,860 manuscript items are from the ancient period, 3300 BC - 500 AD; 3,844 are from the medieval period, 500 - 1500; and 3,013 are post-medieval. There are manuscripts from 134 different countries and territories in 120 languages and 184 scripts.

Never before has there been formed a collection with such variety geographically, linguistically, textually, and of scripts, writing materials, etc., over such a great span of time as 5 millennia.

Only a few of the largest National libraries have a similar scope, and even they do not own collections of writings on clay, metals, wood, bone, stone, glass, etc., which normally will be in archaeological museums.

A further hallmark of the collection is its strength in very early manuscripts. The first major river valley civilisations of the world are all represented with their earliest evidence of writing c. 3300 BC.

The beginning of script in Europe is represented by bones from France and Spain 4000-3800 BC and the challenging undeciphered Minoan Linear A script from Crete 16th c. BC. Even the New World is represented by divination manuals on stone from Ecuador, ca. 3500-1500 BC, and Australia is represented with cylcons which can be up to 20 000 years old.

The Schøyen Collection thus crosses borders and unites cultures, religions and unique materials found nowhere else.

This is not a catalogue of the collection. A full catalogue will be published in a few years.

The present website comprises a selection of digital descriptions of manuscripts with sample images from The Schøyen Collection. The whole collection comprises about 13,700 manuscripts and inscribed objects, of which about 740 are available on the present website. The selection, descriptions and digitalisation are the responsibility of the owner of The Schøyen Collection.

By giving access to parts of unique materials, the present web presentation contributes towards the publication and availability of this internationally important part of the world's cultural heritage, independently of the physical location of the original objects.