What is the career in the field of manuscriptology?

What is manuscriptology?

As the name suggests, the field of manuscriptology looks at history through its written literature, particularly handwritten documents. A scientific study of manuscripts, it revolves around deciphering, reading, and dating historical manuscripts.

Manuscripts can offer deep insights into how people lived in a particular age and time in history. And India has a vast repository of ancient manuscripts - more than 50 lakh in the country itself, while some 60,000 Indian manuscripts are in possession of European countries, according to the National Manuscript Mission.

How it works

Manuscriptologists study the scripts and help catalogue them. They specialise in the preparation of raw material, study of development of scripts and alphabets, translation, interpretation, the reconstruction of texts, conservation and storage, designing archives for manuscripts, and cataloguing. Manuscriptologists often work with archaelogists and palaeologists to help them make sense of documents recovered from the past.

What are the job prospects?

Manuscriptologists are in demand right now as there is a move to digitise manuscripts as part of the UNESCO's Memory of the World Register, a compendium of documentary heritage of exceptional value. As a manuscriptologist, you can work with different manuscript research institutes in India. The National Manuscript Mission is the apex body under the Central Government. Similarly you can be a part of the Institute of Asian Studies, which serves as Asian regional training centre for UNESCO's Memory of the World project.

What to study

Several institutes in India offer postgraduate and certificate courses in Manuscriptology. It is advisable to also pursue a Bachelors or a Masters degree in an Indian language, especially Sanskrit.


  • University of Mumbai: Certificate course in Manuscriptology, Masters of Arts in Archaeology 

  • Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Bengaluru: Postgraduate (PG) Diploma course in Manuscriptology and Palaeography

  • KJ. Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies, Mumbai: Certificate course in Manuscriptology

  • Pondicherry University: PG Diploma in Manuscriptology and Palegography

  • Centre of Studies for Manuscriptology, Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kerala: PhD in Manuscriptology

  • Deccan College, Pune: M.A. in Sanskrit


  • First discovered in the 1940s, the Dead Sea Scrolls are thought to be the second oldest surviving manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. They are of religious, cultural, historic, and linguistic significance.

  • The Dispilio Tablet, a wooden tablet carved with a set of heiroglyphs that was preserved in lake mud for more than 7,000 years, is probably the oldest manuscript in the world.


  • In India, manuscripts were written on materials such as tala patra (palm-leaf). bhurja patra (birch-bark), leather (animal skin), tulapat (a type of paper made out of cotton).

  • They are written in ancient languages such as Sanskrit, Brahmi, Pali, Prakrti, Burmese, Sinhalese, Newari and Tibetan, along with Urdu, Arabic, and Persian.


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