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Library Conservation Project

Manuscript survey and boxing programme 

Collaboration with the Ligatus Research Centre, University of the Arts London



35 conservators from nine countries made 15 trips to Sinai to assess 3,306 manuscripts and 957 early printed books.

The survey of the manuscripts was the most detailed ever carried out on a collection of this size. Working in pairs, the conservators completed a ten-page survey form on each manuscript. They made tens of thousands of drawings and digital photographs of damage.

The survey of the printed books pioneered the use of electronic data using touch-screen technology. The conservators are using the information to plan work in the future conservation workshop and target the manuscripts in greatest need of repair.


  • The monastery's Byzantine and Greek-style bindings recognised as the world's largest surviving collection

  • Discovery of the monastery's original bookbinding finishing tools — a very rare find

  • Discovery of a new fragment of the Codex Sinaiticus in a binding at the monastery

  • Creation of the first Greek-English bookbinding glossary


The Sinai manuscripts are remarkably well preserved, but the collection has sustained damage, mainly from vertical storage and inadequate shelving. Horizontal storage in individual conservation boxes will protect the manuscripts and prevent further damage. The Ligatus team has developed a unique stainless steel box for Saint Catherine's. It will be durable, non-damaging to the books and able to withstand the dry Sinai climate.


For more information on the box design, download Nicholas Pickwoad's report.

For more information on the library conservation project, visit the Ligatus website.

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