Example 1

Jerusalem, SMMJ 180, ff. 54v-55r (7th/8th C.)

Book of Steps

The examples highlighted in this lesson come mainly from the 8th-11th centuries. I am calling it “usual” Estrangela because the common type of writing in these examples aligns closely with what people will consider a classic or typical kind of Estrangela, although even here there are also examples of certain shapes more often associated with Serto, and, as usual, in any case, every manuscript shows some peculiarities.

Specific features are indicated below generally only when distinct from those mentioned for DIYR 339 in the lesson on Earliest Estrangela.


This manuscript is an early copy of the Book of Steps (Liber graduum) and parts of the Asceticon of Abba Isaiah. The original order of folios has been obliterated by misbinding, and thus the present arrangement is wholly confused. (For a full folio-by-folio breakdown of the contents see hmmlorientalia blog post on this manuscript.) As in SMMJ 129, some notes in early Serto complement the Estrangela of the main text.

The script is very straightforward Estrangela, with sharp angles as in the bēt and ṭēt. When there is a little space at line end, the final letter has an extender to reach the edge. Here are some remarks on a few particulars:

Example 2

Jerusalem, SMMJ 1, ff. 47v-48r (8th C.?)

Isaiah (Syro-Hexapla)

Hexaplaric signs are found throughout. As for word-spacing, n.b. w-meṭṭol-hādē  written without spaces in f. 48/p. 73, line 2.

Example 3

London, BL Add. 14532, f. 194r (8th C.)

Excerpts from the Fathers Against Heresies

Thick lines of relative uniformity.

Example 4

Mardin, CFMM 309, p. 112 (8th/9th C.)


This manuscript, some pages of which are more difficult to read due to faded ink, has its main text in Estrangela, but the scribe himself (it seems) has also made several marginal notes in Serto (longer ones on pp. 313 and 321, for example). Several pages, including this one, also have some Greek names either in the margin or in a separate column.

The abbreviations are marked, as usual, with an overline, in this case with small dots at each end.

Example 5 - Three 8th/9th century manuscripts

Milan, Cod. Ambr. A (C313 Inf.; 8th/9th C.), f. 126ra


A legible facsimile of Cod. Ambr. A is available here. This manuscript has overall a sharper, more angular ductus than the fifth century manuscripts, and with a shorter line height.

Codex Syro-hexaplaris Ambrosianus, f. 126r, with Jer 25:9-10 (static non-zoomable image)



Note the hexaplaric signs inherited from Origen (and in turn, from Alexandrian Homeric scholarship) to indicate pluses, minuses and other textual relationships between the Hebrew text and the translated, and thus here the Syriac text based on the Greek (see further B.M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible, § 22).

Milan, Cod. Ambr. A, f. 126ra, ll. 24-33.

Jerusalem, SMMJ 129, pp. 120-121 (dated 806)

Quriaqos of Tagrit

The bulk of the manuscript is devoted to theological treatises of Quriaqos of Tagrit, in whose lifetime this manuscript was copied. The main text is in Estrangela, while the colophon is in Serto.

Part of the Serto colophon (dated Oct. 3, 806) --static non-zoomable image


Column from Jerusalem, Saint Mark's Monastery, SMMJ 129, p. 189.
All rights reserved. Image provided by HMML.


The Estrangela script here is rather angular and makes a careful, stately impression.

Vatican City, Vat. Sir. 161, f. 113v (9th C.)

Acts of the Persian Martyrs

Example 6

Vatican City, Vat. Sir. 118, f. 40v (pre-12th C.)

Jacob of Serugh, Memre


The script here has a very thick, sharp character.