An academic & educational resource from the private collection of Martin Schøyen

840 manuscripts, more than 40 categories, topics and themes


The Bible

The complete Bible Collection comprises more than 400 manuscripts including the earliest known texts of particular sections of the Bible. greek-new-testament-leviticus-ms-2649Ninety are the earliest known texts of parts of the Hebrew Bible, and a further 86 are only preceded by the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are also Sumerian and Babylonian forerunners or parallels to the Bible. A selection of 43 from this collection are available online.


ms2063-Tower-of-Babel-2Thirty-five items spanning 24c BC to 19c AD from more than 1,200 manuscripts of historical importance are presented online, including the Tower of Babel Stele, the earliest non-Biblical reference to this  structure. The manuscripts complement those in other categories.

Literature ms2106graphic

The 37 manuscripts in this category are among  some 630 in the Schøyen Collection. From the oldest joke (the Sumerians were a wry lot!) and the Epic of Gilgamesh, the start of world literature, to Ibsen, with Heloise and Abelard and Shakespeare in between.


The study of the various types of old scripts and their development geographically and over time is a vast field, ms4551-Sumerian-clay-tabletand so is this collection of more than 2,000 examples covering Western scripts of Europe, the Near East and the Americas. It starts with the earliest scripts (3300 BC) and alphabets (1700 BC). The rest of the world is represented elsewhere in the special collections. The 165 manuscripts in this section are also supplemented by the 33 examples in the Music special collection.

Special Collections

Tutankhamom-ringComprising 19 categories, the special collections have some of the most important items in the Schøyen Collection. The manuscripts presented here include fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But even these are pre-dated by some of the signed cuneiform tablets from 26c BC in the Magical Collection. There are manuscripts on Law, Mathematics, Music, Bindings, Pre-Gutenberg printing and Extinct and Living Religions, and much more of cultural and historical importance.

Smaller Collections

ms5195-gospel-wild-boar-jawboneArchitecture, children's literature, maps, medical texts, ships and shipbuilding, slavery, wine and beer, and women authors are some of the categories in this section of our online resource.


 23rd Internet Edition