Arabic Scientific Manuscripts of the British Library

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Help advance research into automatic text recognition technologies for historical Arabic handwritten texts. Below you will find selected pages from some of the British Library's most important Arabic Scientific Manuscripts. We need your help to transcribe them in order to create a freely available ground truth datataset for anyone wishing to advance the state-of-the-art in optical character recognition (OCR) technology for handwriting.

Read our Getting Started Guide for more detail.

Cultural heritage institutions around the world are digitising vast archives containing hundreds of thousands of pages of historical handwritten Arabic manuscript collections. The ability to make these texts fully text searchable has the potential to truly transform research.

Computer scientists are working on this challenge, building systems which can automatically transcribe images of handwritten text, but for handwritten Arabic script a solution remains just out of reach.

Your transcriptions will be turned into much needed ground truth resources, ensuring historical Arabic collections benefit from state-of-the-art developments in handwritten text recognition, transforming accessibility of this rich content through enabling full-text search and large-scale text analysis.

Works

al-Durr al-naqī fī fann al-mūsīqī الدرّ النقيّ في الفنّ الموسيقي

al-Durr al-naqī fī fann al-mūsīqī الدرّ النقيّ في الفنّ الموسيقي

Treatise on music theory relating the musical modes, or maqams (مقامات), to the Prophets, signs of the zodiac, hours of the day, etc. by Abū Ṣāliḥ al-Sayyid Aḥmad al-Rifā‘ī ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, given the laqab al-Musallam al-Mawṣlī (أبو صالح السيّد الرفاعي الملقّب بالمسلم الموصلي ابن عبد الرحمن,...

12 pages: 100% transcribed
al-Durr al-thamīn fī sharḥ urjūzat Ibn al-Yāsamīn الدر الثمين في شرح أرجوزة ابن الياسمين

al-Durr al-thamīn fī sharḥ urjūzat Ibn al-Yāsamīn الدر الثمين في شرح أرجوزة ابن الياسمين

Commentary by Shihāb al-Dīn Abū al-‘Abbās Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ha’im al-Maqdisī al-Faraḍī (شهاب الدين أبو العباس أحمد بن محمد بن الهائم المقدسي الفرضي, d. 1412), known as Ibn al-Hā’im (ابن الهائم) on the didactic poem (أرجوزة) on algebra al-Manẓūmah al-Yāsamīnīyah fī al-jabr wa-al-muqābalah...

12 pages: 17% transcribed, 83% needs review
Fihrist Arisṭā [ ṭā ] līs

Fihrist Arisṭā [ ṭā ] līs

Three treatises on the prediction of future events based on astronomical, meteorological and other natural phenomena. Dated 19 Ṣafar 1295 (22 February 1878). A treatise on meteorological divination attributed to Aristotle and perhaps related to the tradition of his Meteorologica (كتاب الأثار...

6 pages: 17% transcribed, 83% needs review
Kitāb al-Majisṭī كتاب المجسطي Ptolemy بطلميوس

Kitāb al-Majisṭī كتاب المجسطي Ptolemy بطلميوس

Books One to Six of the Almagest (كتاب المجسطي), an Arabic version of the Μαθηματικῆς σύνταξις of Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus; c 90-c 168), thought to have been translated by al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf ibn Maṭar (786-830). This was the most influential and enduring astronomical text to have survived...

12 pages: 17% transcribed, 83% needs review
Kitāb al-tafhīm li-awā’īl ṣinā‘at al-tanjīm كتاب التفهيم لأوائل صناعة التنجيم

Kitāb al-tafhīm li-awā’īl ṣinā‘at al-tanjīm كتاب التفهيم لأوائل صناعة التنجيم

Comprehensive introduction to the principles of astrology by Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (أبو الريحان محمد بن أحمد البيروني, ca 973-1048). The text is written in question and answer format (على طريق المسئلة والجواب, f. 2v, line 8), and it deals with the sciences needed by the...

12 pages: 25% transcribed, 75% needs review
Kitāb Dīsqūrīdis fī mawādd al-‘ilāj كتاب ديسقوريدس في موادّ العلاج

Kitāb Dīsqūrīdis fī mawādd al-‘ilāj كتاب ديسقوريدس في موادّ العلاج

Arabic version of De materia medica (Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικῆς; Kitāb mawādd al-‘ilāj ), by Pedanius Dioscorides (Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης, ديسقوريدس; ca AD 40- ca 90) of Anazarbus (modern Anavarza in south-central Turkey). This copy was completed at Baghdad on 10 Rabī‘ I 735/8 November 1334 (see...

8 pages: 25% transcribed, 75% needs review
Kitāb istī‘āb al-wujūh al-mumkinah fī ṣan‘at al-asṭurlāb كتاب استيعاب الوجوه الممكنة في صنعة الأسطرلاب

Kitāb istī‘āb al-wujūh al-mumkinah fī ṣan‘at al-asṭurlāb كتاب استيعاب الوجوه الممكنة في صنعة الأسطرلاب

One of only three recorded copies of an influential treatise on the construction and use of astrolabes by Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (أبو الريحان محمد بن أحمد البيروني, ca 973-1048).

12 pages: 0% transcribed, 100% needs review
Kitāb Tarākīb al-anwārكتاب تراكيب الأنوار

Kitāb Tarākīb al-anwārكتاب تراكيب الأنوار

An influential alchemical treatise by Muʾayyad al-Dīn abū Ismāʿīl al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī al-Ṭughrāʾī (d. 515 AH/AD 1121), a high-ranking Seljuq vizier and the most important alchemist of his time. The text was copied in early Raǧab 925 (June/July 1519) at Damascus by Qudrat Allāh al-Marandī...

6 pages: 33% transcribed, 67% needs review
Selections from al-Rāzī’s al-Kutub al-Ithná ‘asharah (الكتب الإثنى عشرة)

Selections from al-Rāzī’s al-Kutub al-Ithná ‘asharah (الكتب الإثنى عشرة)

A summary of Books Two, Three, Six, Seven, and Nine of Rāzī’s Twelve Books, his most complete exposition of the art of chemistry. It was created in c 930.

5 pages: 0% transcribed, 100% needs review
All 9 records

Incomplete Works