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Palestinians are restoring old books to preserve their history

A team in Gaza has been collating and preserving old manuscripts to protect them from damage and the erasure of Palestinian heritage

June 29, 2023 at 10:00 am

Preserving Palestinian history and its roots on the ancient land of Palestinian has been an ongoing project for many, but for Eyes-on-Heritage, it is publications which provide the most insight into its history.

From inside the homes of old families in Gaza and among the archaeological mosques and shrines, the Eyes on Heritage Foundation has devoted itself to collecting manuscripts of Palestinian scholars, books on literature and novels, some of which have not been revealed to the public.

Rare manuscripts, books and valuable and rare archival documents and historical records examining the history of Palestine through the 20th century are collated and preserved by the team to help protect Palestine’s history links to the land.

Haneen Alamssi, executive director of the foundation, says: “We have been working for some time to collect these calligraphies to preserve them from damage and extinction, which varied between manuscripts, books, novels, the creations of writers, literary writers and scholars from the Ottoman era.”

“Some of the oldest manuscript collections we have belong to the Ottoman era. They contain various sciences, literature, and religious texts. These all show that Gaza City was rich with scholars brimming with culture and science,” she adds.

The papers are processed to preserve Palestinian heritage using special tools and sponges made of vinyl fibres. Among the books is the original edition of the first Palestinian novel printed in Jerusalem in 1920.

The Eyes-on-Heritage team is also working on an electronic archive of the collection. Their work is backed by the British Library in coordination with the Ministry of Awqaf in Gaza.

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