Since the mid-sixteenth century, the Library has acquired books and manuscripts relating to Middle Eastern languages and cultures, both ancient and modern. These supported the University’s developing interest in the study of the languages and cultures of this area of the world.
Along with more traditional volumes came a variety of ‘oddments’ made from clay, bone, plaster, wood, parchment, paper or fabric and for which a more suitable home had not been found. Many of them have connections to the occult; to magic, divination or death, whereas others are objects for everyday use. Several examples display the languages and iconography of their culture of origin.
All of them came with the collections of Cambridge academics who had also donated their books and manuscripts to the Library, or from others with a University connection who considered the Library the most suitable repository.