Egypt has retrieved a 500-year-old Islamic manuscript after stopping its sale at London’s Bonhams auction, according to a press statement released by the Egypt National Library and Archives (ENLA).
The manuscript is titled “Summary of the science of history”, authored by Mohammed bin Sulaiman Masood al–Kafiji and considered the first known Islamic study of historical theory.
Previously housed at ENLA collections, the manuscript was lost in the 1970s due to shadowy circumstances.
ENLA head Hesham Azmy said they had succeeded in halting the manuscript sale at the Bonhams auction on April 16 thanks to cooperation with Egypt’s embassy in London, finally reclaiming it on July 13.
Azmy stated that they contacted Bonhams to prove that the manuscript in their possession is the same one that the ENLA had.
Head of the Egyptian Society for Historical Studies Ayman Fouad told al-Hayah Newspaper that the 56-page manuscript is available online or in national libraries, but the importance of its retrieval lies in being a rare Egyptian artifact.
He pointed out that American orientalist Franz Rosenthal already went through this manuscript and published in as part of a book titled “A History of Muslim Historiography”.
Fouad added that the disappearance of the manuscript is not an isolated case, and such incidents still occur even despite advanced safety procedures.ENLA is the biggest and oldest governmental library in Egypt, housing several million copies and volumes of ancient arabic and eastern manuscripts.
Egyptian authorities have lately been exerting effort into retrieve ancient Egyptian artifacts smuggled as part of illegal trade.
In June, France handed over eight smuggled artifacts to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, including a Pharaonic mask made of wood seized by French authorities at a train station in Paris, while in July Egypt finally received several ancient Egyptian artifacts that smuggled to Italy including 195 small artifact and 21,660 coins from various eras.