The earliest manuscript in the gallery was written between 1206-1269. Also in our possession is a fragment dating back to the 11th Century. Our collection includes rare illuminated manuscripts. It is also distinguished by the fact that it contains samples from most of the well-known monastic centers where manuscripts were written and pictorially decorated.
Manuscripts (books in which the text has been copied by hand) are invaluable resources for the study of Armenian culture and civilization. Besides being a repository of text and artistic expression, their colophons (inscriptions written by the scribe or later owners) often provide precious historical details about the people who produced the manuscripts.
Manuscripts are generally small and portable, and at least some could be saved from destruction during the turbulent periods of Armenian history. It is estimated that over 25,000 Armenian manuscripts are extant in various collections throughout the world.