Avva has discovered a request for assistance at the website of the University of Otago (N.Z.) library: they have a number of items they haven’t been able to identify, and have put images on the internet in hopes that others could do better. Of the sixteen items, ten are listed as having been solved (and the solutions are given); the remainder (numbers 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 16) are still awaiting identification. It’s not as much fun as it could have been, since the scripts are known (Perso-Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Byzantine Greek)—I had my Languages Identification Guide poised and ready to seek out obscure Southeast Asian alphabets or Native American syllabaries—but anyone who knows Urdu, Arabic, Amharic/Ge’ez, Byzantine Greek, or (perhaps) Coptic should see if they can decipher one or more of them; Otago’s Special Collections Cataloger, Margaret Tripp (her e-mail is at the site), will be eternally grateful to hear from you! (The Armenian page, #10, has already been deciphered by one of Avva’s readers, dodo, and the translation, more or less ‘items of Christian spiritual wisdom for each day of the year,’ has been sent on to Ms. Tripp.)


  1. Alas, the Otago link is now “Page not found.” I hope they solved their mystery…

  2. Archived version from Oct 2002, and as of the last version stored (Feb 2006) the six were still listed as unsolved.

  3. Excellent sleuthing!

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