The highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea have been long home to a rich manuscript tradition. At the latest since the Late Antiquity, texts were transmitted in manuscript form.
There is no reliable figure for the total number of surviving Gəʿəz manuscripts, the numbers are likely in hundreds of thousands: there are many thousands churches and monasteries in Ethiopia and Eritrea, each in the possession of at least several manuscripts, with biggest collections counting several hundred codices. While the assumed numbers are very high, the number of historical – most valuable for researchers – manuscripts is diminishing at a quick pace. Field research confirms that over 90% of each manuscript collection is composed of manuscripts dating from the nineteenth and twentieth century. This underlines the necessity to record what has survived, and analyse the form and the content of these witnesses of the centuries past.
Several projects in Ethiopian and Eritrean manuscript studies have been and are still being conducted at Universität Hamburg, many of them involving the advances in Digital Humanities, and the time has come for us to share our knowledge and experience.