Syriaca.org: The Syriac Reference Portal is a collaborative research project publishling online reference works concerning the culture, history, and literature of Syriac communities from antiquity to the present. The online publications of Syriaca.org serve a broad scholarly audience including students of Middle Eastern studies, classics, medieval history, religious studies, biblical studies, and linguistics. In addition, Syriaca.org exists to provide Syriac heritage communities and the interested general public with access to scholarly information.

What is Syriac?

Syriac is a language which once flourished on the Mesopotamian plateau. A dialect of Aramaic, Syriac was widely used during much of the first millenium of the common era. Syriac speaking communities could be found in what today would be Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, India, Central Asia, China, and Mongolia. Sources in Syriac hold immense value for increasing our historical understanding of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia. In particular, Syriac sources document key moments in the development and interaction of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other religions of Late Antiquity. Learn more…

Online Resources

The publications of Syriaca.org combine emerging methods in the field of digital humanities with the rigour of traditional scholarship in history and philology. Several digital reference works are currently in preparation:


  • The Syriac Gazetteer (eds. Thomas Carlson and David Michelson) is a dictionary of historical geography concerning places related to Syriac studies. It was published in 2014 and contains nearly 2,500 place records. This is the only scholarly resource of its kind to offer place names in Syriac.


  • Clavis Syriaca (eds. David Michelson, Thomas Carlson, Nathan Gibson) is a two volume reference guide to Syriac authors and their works for use in cataloguing Syriac literature. The first part, A Guide to Syriac Authors is forthcoming in 2015 and has also been serialized as part of The Virtual International Authority File. It contains entries on over 1000 authors. A second volume The New Handbook of Syriac Literature has just received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is in preparation.
  • Syriac Biographical Dictionary (SBD) (eds. David Michelson, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent, Thomas Carlson, Nathan Gibson) is a reference work and authority file which aims to create URIs for all persons of interest as linked data for Syriac studies. This work includes as subsets of it's data both A Guide to Syriac Authors (see above) and A Guide to the Syriac Saints (see below).
  • Qadishe: Gateway to the Syriac Saints (eds. Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent and David Michelson)is a two volume reference guide to Syriac saints and their vitae. Volume I: A Guide to the Syriac Saints contains information on persons relevant to the study of Syriac hagiography include the saints themselves (such as St. Simeon the Stylite) as well as their associates and the authors who narrated their lives or wrote homilies and hymns about them. Volume II: A Guide to the Lives of the Syriac Saints describes texts written about saints and includes information about different versions and data such as the title, prologue, and epilogue of the saint's life, along with the hagiographer. With publication scheduled for 2015. The draft of this work contains entries on over 1100 saints and 1500 saints lives
  • SPEAR: Syriac Persons Events and Relations (ed. Daniel Schwartz) is a factoid-based prosopographical tool similar to the The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (PASE). SPEAR is designed to provide information about persons and their relationships within the context of historical events. This online prosopography will be the first ever created with a specific focus on Syriac texts. SPEAR will contain new data about people in Syriac texts (their name or names, dates, important events, possessions they bought, sold, or owned, ethnic identity, language, education, people to whom they wrote letters, religion, vocation, etc.).
  • Digital Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts in the British Library (ed. David Michelson) is a digital catalogue of Syriac manuscripts using the TEI XML standards for manuscript cataloguing.
  • A Union Catalogue of Syriac Manuscripts (ed. David Michelson) is digital catalogue of Syriac manuscripts following the model of the Fihrist union catalogue. A visualization for this project has not yet been drafted.

All publications of Syriaca.org are made available online in a free and open format using the Creative Commons licenses. Draft data for in-process publications is available in a public Github repository.

In later development, we will open these resources up for collaborative augmentation and annotation by scholars around the globe. Learn more…

Funding for Syriaca.org was provided by:

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or any of the other sponsors.