History / Science
Length 52’
Film by Susanne Brahms
Co-Production Kinescope Film Bremen with TAG/TRAUM Filmproduktion for Radio
Original Title Bücherjäger
Completion April 2017

Ancient civilisations possessed a vast amount of knowledge that was documented in hundreds of thousands of manuscripts. At the end of the Roman Empire, the majority of these cultural treasures vanished. Book hunters often risked their necks to track down ancient manuscripts and preserve them for future generations.
One of the most spectacular projects of this kind is the Sinai Palimpsests Project at St. Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai.
Medieval monks recycled ancient parchment by scratching off old texts and writing on the parchment again – so-called palimpsests. Using spectral imaging, American scientist Michael Phelps examined parchments found in the hollow area of a staircase with some spectacular results: 180 palimpsests were discovered.
Another important operation to rescue ancient books received less attention. When Islamist rebels seized the ancient Mali city of Timbuktu in 2012, library curator Dr. Abdel Kader Haïdara organised a secret and highly dangerous mission to evacuate boxes full of handwritten historical scripts on wooden boats and by donkey to Bamako. Stephen Greenblatt, author of bestselling books on book hunters, accompanies us in this film.


Long Synopsis [PDF]: Bookhunters_engl-long

[PDF]: Susanne Brahms_Biography

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