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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


As well as the standard collections of books and journals, the Library contains valuable collections of rare books and items of specialist interest.

In addition, there is an Archive, containing a wealth of information, both written and photographic, of the lives and work of a number of eminent scholars of Asia and the Middle East.

The Special Collections

The Library mainly collects DVDs from East Asia (Korea, China and Japan) in order to support the undergraduate course ‘Cinema East’. It also acquires documentary films of outstanding importance on the regions taught at the Faculty.

The rare books collection consists of volumes printed before 1850 which came to the Library mainly with the early collections. It contains volumes printed in England and continental Europe as well as many printed in the Middle East, India and East Asia. Many were collected by scholars of Asia and the Middle East connected with the Faculty or with Cambridge.

The books collection of the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (formerly Middle East Centre) is shelved around the central reading area of the Library. The journals collection was amalgamated some years ago with the Middle Eastern collections of the Faculty Library. There is a separate CMEIS reading room on the ground floor of the Faculty for newspapers and ephemeral journals.

The Lattimore Collection is the personal library of Owen Lattimore (1900-1989), the scholar and traveler in Mongolia. The collection is on permanent loan to the Mongolian and Inner Asian Studies Unit.

The library's collection of maps is stored in a room off the main library. The collection contains sheet maps of the countries of the Middle East, including Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and the Sudan, the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. There are also maps of Mongolia and China and a small number of India and Japan. The maps are mainly topographical but there are some archaeological maps in the collection.

The photographs in the collection are of archaeological sites, monuments and temples in India, Pakistan and other regions of South Asia. The largest of the photographic collection is that of Sir John Marshall which came to the library in the 1960's. This consists of around 5,000 photographic positives mounted on card of temple sites, monuments and other sites of archaeological interest in India.

The Abrahams Collection contains items of interest to researchers in Hebrew studies. Notably there are rare editions of religious texts and commentaries printed in Italy and Eastern Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many of them rare editions. The majority of the publications are nineteenth century books on Jewish history and religion and textual and philosophical commentaries.