Textiles in Ethiopian Manuscripts
Team Bios
Contact Us

Team Members

Hagos Abrha Abay

Hagos Abrha Abay is currently a Research Associate for the TEM Project in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Toronto. Recently he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hamburg, Center for the Study of Manuscript Culture (CSMC), under the 'Cluster of Excellence’. He was an assistant professor of Gǝʿǝz Philology and director of the St. Yared Center for Ethiopian Philology and Manuscripts Studies, at Mekelle University (Northern Ethiopia) where he taught linguistics-related courses for more than a decade. Gǝʿǝz manuscript assessment and digitization in Northern Ethiopia were among his primary duties while directing the research center that he founded. He has been working on documenting war damage to the cultural heritage of Ethiopia’s Tigray.  For a brief time, Dr. Hagos was appointed as Deputy Chief Executive Director of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization. He is also the founder of the Mahlete Gumaye cultural initiative.

Carolina Almenara-Melis

Pursuing a second career in academe, Carolina Almenara-Melis holds an MA in Art History from the University of Toronto. After working for some 15 years in marketing, sales, and information systems at Procter & Gamble in various countries, she undertook to pursue her research interests in ancient and archaeological textiles (including those from pre-Columbian Andean South America), which led her to engage in the present project on imported textiles in Ethiopian manuscripts.  She played a pivotal role in securing the funding required for the Textiles in manuscripts research project, built a database of 1000+ manuscripts with textiles inside their covers and kick-started this interdisciplinary and multinational project. 

Alessandro Bausi

Alessandro Bausi, Professor of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies (Assistant and Associate Professor at Università di Napoli L’Orientale, 1995–2009, Full Professor at Universität Hamburg 2009–2023, appointed at Sapienza Università di Roma from November 2023), is a philologist and linguist working on ancient, late antique, and medieval texts and manuscripts. As journal and series editor, he has for several years headed cooperative projects in Ethiopian-Eritrean philology, manuscript studies, linguistics, and corpus linguistics at the Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies. He is a permanent fellow of the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures and member of several national and international academies. He has especially contributed on the earliest phase of ancient Ethiopic scribal and literary history, on epigraphy, on canonical and hagiographical-liturgical collections, and generally on the textual criticism of Ethiopic texts and on the manuscript culture of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Gioia Bottari

Gioia Bottari is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean at the University of Naples L'Orientale. She studies Ethiopian manuscripts (codexes, scrolls, sǝnsul) written in Gǝ'ǝz and Amharic, but is also interested in manuscripts from other African and Asian areas (Byzantine, Coptic, Syriac, Islamic). She is qualified as a restorer of cultural heritage and has experience in conservative restoration, preventive conservation, conditioning of book artifacts, and controlled exhibition of cultural heritage. She is a member of the CaNaMEI project (Catalogo Nazionale dei Manoscritti Etiopici in Italia) and a research fellow at the Vivarium Novum Academy. She has studied and cataloged Ethiopian manuscripts preserved in many public Italian institutions (Campania, Lazio, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria) and a private collection of manuscripts. As part of the CaNaMEI project, she conducted conservative restoration activities on several manuscripts and organized the exhibition of Ethiopian manuscripts in Rome and Grosseto.

Rosemary Crill

Rosemary Crill is a specialist in South Asian textiles and was for 38 years a curator in the Indian (later Asian) Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She retired as Senior Curator in 2016. Her areas of interest include the textiles of India and surrounding countries; the historical international trade in Indian cotton textiles to Europe, the Middle East, South-East Asia and Tibet; local imitations of Indian textiles in Iran, the Middle East and Europe; specific techniques in South Asian textiles, especially ikat, chintz and embroidery. She has published and lectured widely. In addition to over 50 journal articles and catalogue essays, her authored books include Indian Ikat Textiles (1998); Indian Embroidery (1999); Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West (2008); Textiles from India: The Global Trade (editor and contributor, 2005) and The Fabric of India (editor and primary author, 2015) which accompanied a major exhibition at the V&A of which she was co-curator. She contributed essays to Indian Textiles. 1000 Years of Art and Design (2021) and Cloth that changed the World (2019). Most recently she has co-authored, with Shilpa Shah, The Shoemaker’s Stitch. Mochi embroideries in the TAPI collection (2022).

Steven Delamarter

Steven Delamarter is Emeritus Professor of Old Testament at George Fox Evangelical Seminary (Portland, Oregon). His interest in ancient texts took him on numerous trips to the ancient world, among them a sabbatical to Ethiopia. He has since become the Director of the Ethiopic Manuscript Imaging Project, or EMIP (with around 12,000 items digitized), is founding Chair of the Society of Biblical Literature's Consultation on the Ethiopic Bible and Literature, and Co-Director (with Demeke Berhane) for the British Library Endangered Archives Programme project in the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Delamarter is also head of the steering committee for the Textual History of the Ethiopic Old Testament (THEOT) Project, funded in 2020-2023 by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the Ethiopic Area Editor for the Brill volumes (edited by Armin Lange and Emanuel Tov) on the Textual History of the Bible (THB). Delamarter has been to Ethiopia more than a dozen times and serves as an international advisor on the Authority for Research and Conservation of the Cultural Heritage (ARCCH), headed by Alula Pankhurst.

Eyob Derillo

Eyob Derillo holds a BA in History of Art and Archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, an MA in Film Studies from Birkbeck, University of London and is currently completing his doctorate at SOAS in the department of Religions and Philosophies. His doctoral research focuses on the nature and historical development of the concept of Ethiopian ‘magic’ and its use within a specifically Christian context. Derillo has been the Curator of the Ethiopic and Ethiopian Collections in the British Library, where he was responsible for the library’s collections of printed Ethiopian books and Ethiopian manuscripts produced from the 13th to the early 20th century. He recently curated the British Library's exhibition “African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia” (2018), the first exhibition to be held at the Library devoted entirely to Ethiopian manuscripts. Derillo’s specializations include: Ethiopian manuscripts, modern and contemporary Ethiopian literature; Ethiopian codicology of medical and magical works; Ethiopian history from the 15th to 19th century; Ethiopian manuscript illumination and Geez literature; and liturgical and hagiographical texts of the Medieval period.

Sarah Fee

Sarah Fee is Senior Curator of Global Fashion & Textiles at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), where she stewards the Museum’s renowned collection of ca. 15,000 textiles and fashion pieces from Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Fee is Affiliated Faculty at the University of Toronto Department of Art History. She holds an MSt in Anthropology from Oxford University, and a PhD in African Studies from the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris. Her main area of research and publication focuses on the textile arts and trades of Madagascar and the western Indian Ocean world. In this project, she is responsible for coordinating the examination of textiles by regional specialists; coordinating studies of the routes and political and economic structure that brought them to Ethiopia; communications with fellow curators; organization of virtual or physical exhibitions; and the training of co-op and work-study students.

Zhao Feng

Zhao Feng studied at the Zhejiang Institute of Silk Textile (now Zhejiang Sci-Tech University), earning a BA in Dyeing and Finishing (1978–82) and MA in Chinese Silk History (1982–84). He did his PhD on the Textile History of China, at the China Textile University (now Donghua University) (1995-1997), as a student of Zhu Xinyu 朱新予 and Jiang Youlong 蒋猷龙. In 1991, he became curator and researcher at the China National Silk Museum, and has remained with this museum since. He also holds the following positions in Chinese and international organisations: Director of Chinese Textiles Identification Protection Center; professor and PhD supervisor of Donghua University; member of the National Committee of Cultural Relics; council member of the Centre International d'Etude des Textiles Anciens (CIETA); director of Dunhuang Studies of Zhejiang province; representative of the 11th National People's Congress; one of Zhejiang Provincial “Super Experts”; director of the Key Scientific Research Base of Textile Conservation, SACH. In 2015 he became the first President of the International Association for the Study of Silk Road Textiles. Dr. Zhao's research is in the history of Chinese silk; identification and conservation of textile relics; and cultural communication between China and the world along the Silk Road.

Michael Gervers

Michael Gervers is the Principal Investigator for this project. He has been teaching History and Art History at the University of Toronto (UofT) since 1976, after three years as an Assistant Professor at New York University. He completed the AB at Princeton University, his MA at the Université de Poitiers, and his PhD at the UofT. He is a specialist in English and Ethiopian history, textile history, material culture, digital humanities, ancient art, and Mongolian archeology. He is the author or editor of 18 books and has authored over 75 articles discussing medieval history, art history, archeology, textile history, and ethnography. His books include an edition of the Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, Conversion and Continuity: Indigenous Christian Communities In Islamic Lands, and Dating Undated Medieval Charters. In collaboration with the local Ethiopian community, Dr. Gervers introduced Ethiopian Studies to the UofT at both graduate and undergraduate levels in 2017. He is responsible for the overall administration, research, and writing of this project.

Jacopo Gnisci

Jacopo Gnisci is a Lecturer in the Art and Visual Cultures of the Global South at UCL, and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Africa, Oceania, and the America at the British Museum. He is the co-Principal Investigator of the projects Demarginalizing medieval Africa: Images, texts, and identity in early Solomonic Ethiopia (1270-1527) (AHRC Grant Ref. no. AH/V002910/1; DFG Projektnummer 448410109) and Material Migrations: Mamluk Metalwork across Afro-Eurasia (Gerda Henkel Stiftung). Jacopo sits on the editorial board of several journals for medieval and African studies including GestaAethiopica: International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies, and the Rassegna di Studi Etiopici,and currently serves as an Associate of the International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA).


Samantha Kelly

Samantha Kelly is a Professor of History at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ). Her research focuses on Italy, the Mediterranean, Ethiopian-European relations, and Ethiopian diasporic communities between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. She is the editor of A Companion to Medieval Ethiopia and Eritrea (Brill, 2020), winner of the African Studies Journal Prize for best Africa-focused anthology or collected volume, and author of Translating Faith: Ethiopian Pilgrims in Renaissance Rome (Harvard, 2024, in press). She serves on the international advisory board of the journal Aethiopica and co-organizes the Ethiopian Studies of North America (ESNA) monthly online seminar. 

Gianfrancesco Lusini

Gianfrancesco Lusini is currently Professor of Ge'ez and Amharic languages and literatures in the Dipartimento Asia, Africa e Mediterraneo of the University of Naples L’Orientale, where he is the Director of the “Centro di Studi sull'Africa” and the coordinator of the project "Catalogo Nazionale dei Manoscritti Etiopici in Italia" (CaNaMEI). He is the editor of the journal Rassegna di Studi Etiopici and of the series “Studi Africanistici. Serie Etiopica.” He was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow in 2001-2002 (Hamburg University), and has been a Visiting Professor at Addis Ababa University (since 2014).

Denis Nosnitsin

Denis Nosnitsin is a specialist in the literature and languages of Ethiopia, as well as the codicology and palaeography of Ethiopic (Ge'ez) manuscripts. A graduate of the Oriental faculty of St. Petersburg State University, since 1999 he has been working at Hamburg University’s Asia-Africa Institute. Between 2009 and 2015 he headed the European Research Council-supported project “Ethio-SPaRe: Cultural Heritage of Christian Ethiopia. Salvation, Preservation, Research.” Currently he is a member of the project “Beta maṣāḥǝft: Manuscripts of Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

Timothy Perry

Timothy Perry is currently the Medieval Manuscript and Early Book Librarian at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. He completed a Master of Information degree at the University of Toronto, with specializations in Library and Information Science and in Book History and Print Culture. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Classics and French from the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), a Master’s degree in Classics from the University of Canterbury, and a PhD in Classics from the University of Toronto.

Dorothea Reule

Dorothea Reule holds a Master's degree in Semitic languages from the Philipps-Universität Marburg, where she is currently preparing a doctoral thesis on the Ethiopian synaxary and its translation from Arabic. She also works in the “Beta maṣāḥəft” project of the Akademie der Wissenschaften at the Universität Hamburg which establishes a digital environment for research on Ethiopian and Eritrean manuscripts. She was therefore able to acquire a deep knowledge of Ethiopian, its literature and its manuscript tradition. She regularly teaches at Hiob Ludolf Center for Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies summer schools and workshops on Ethiopian and Eritrean manuscripts and digital humanities.

Philip Sykas

Philip Sykas is a Visiting Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University, and a Visiting Researcher at the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester. He is known for his study of printed textiles using the evidence of manufacturers' pattern books. He combines historical and object-based methods to understand the cultural significance of textile technologies readable in the finished fabric. He recently published three volumes of historical resources with Routledge under the series title Pathways in the Nineteenth Century British Textile Industry, exploring historical themes that have current resonance: the waste textile industries, the commercial textile warehouse, and calico printing.


João Teles e Cunha

João Teles e Cunha has a PhD in Modern History (University of Lisbon) and is an integrated researcher at the Centre for Classical Studies of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon. He is an Auxiliary Professor at the Institute of Asian Studies of the Portuguese Catholic University and is a member of the Academia de Marinha (Lisbon).  His research interests focus on the economic and social history of the Estado da Índia, particularly in the western Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, and neighbouring states during the Early Modern period. Recently, he has researched the impact of Islam on the Portuguese Empire, especially in India and Iran (16th to 18th century), and the trade of Indian textiles, of which he has published an overview with Maria João Ferreira entitled: Weaving a Global Trade Pattern: The Portuguese Role in the Globalisation on Asian Textiles, 1500–1800.

Jacek Tomaszewski

Jacek Tomaszewski is a Conservator at the Asia & Pacific Museum and the Polish Institute of World Art Studies in Warsaw. In this project, Tomaszewski is a Research Associate, as our specialist in manuscript bindings and conservation.

Jill Unkel

As Curator of the Western Collections at the Chester Beatty, Jill Unkel is responsible for the papyrus collection, European prints and manuscripts, and Christian manuscripts and bindings. Her research interests cover manuscript illumination and iconography, the history of the book and early European print culture, and object histories. She has curated a number of exhibitions at the museum, including Wicked Wit: Darly’s Comic Prints (2015–2016), the Mystery of Mani (2019–20), Miniature Masterpiece: The Coëtivy Hours and the upcoming First Fragments: Biblical Papyrus from Roman Egypt (2022–2023).

Sean Winslow

Sean Winslow is a postdoctoral fellow at the Zentrüm für Informationsmodellierung, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz. He is a codicologist and specialist in the manuscript cultures of medieval Europe and Ethiopia. His PhD dissertation (and upcoming monograph) documents the scribal practices of Ethiopia from the pre-Christian period through the present. His Madgwas project focuses on the cataloguing of Ethiopian binding decoration. At the university of Graz, his work focuses on the digital representation of manuscript materials from medieval charters to Syriac manuscripts. He also teaches a course in Heritage Imaging Techniques focusing on the use of various imaging technologies for cultural heritage preservation.

Ilaria Zorzan

Ilaria Zorzan is a PhD student at the University of Naples L’Orientale (tutor Professor Gianfrancesco Lusini). In 2021, she graduated from the University of Padua, submitting a thesis on the History of Ethiopian and Eritrean Visual Arts. During the academic year 2021/2022 she attended a one-year MA course in “Manuscript Cultures” at the University of Hamburg, under the direction of Professor Alessandro Bausi. Currently, she is involved in a research project regarding a collection of 19th- and 20th-century Eritrean and Ethiopian paintings kept in the Museo delle Civiltà (MuCiv) in Rome.

Students and Former Students of the TEM Project

Arian Bathaie

Arian Bathaie (2022-23) studies business management and finance at the University of Toronto. He participated as a Research Assistant in TEM in the 2022-23 academic year when,working closely with the university’s Information Technology department, he was largely responsible for creating and maintaining a beta version of the TEM database and website. His work included sorting, analysing and visualising the database; conducting research and comparisons between different web design platforms and interfaces; setting up meetings, creating meeting agendas and summaries; corresponding with the University’s IT department; assisting in website maintenance and data entry. 

Martina D'Amato

Martine D'Amato (2024-) is a doctoral candidate at the Bard Graduate Center and Managing Director at Cora Ginsburg LLC. Her research interests include the global trade in textiles before 1900; collecting and museum history; and currents of nationalism, transnationalism, and appropriation. Her dissertation examines the impact of medieval and early modern European decorative arts on Italian and French politics and ideas of national identity in the 19th century. Recent publications include “Europe: A Tale of Clouded Silk,” in Global Ikat: Roots and Routes of a Textile Technique (2023); and “Il passa les Alpes avec ses trésors: Louis Carrand and Florence,” in Florence, ville d'art, et les Français la création d'un mythe (2022).

Tara Downie

Tara Downie (2023-) is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Victoria College, majoring in history with minors in French and Material culture. She is interested in historical fashion and textiles, particularly from the 17th century onwards. She has completed two major projects in textile research, one focusing on French fashion in the Second World War and another on Marie Antoinette, which involved the creation of a historically accurate late 18th-century gown.

Humera Gheewala

Humera Gheewala (2024-) is a University of Toronto alumna with a double major in English and History. Humera received the University of Toronto Excellence Award for the Summer 2024 term, and will be working as a research assistant on the Textiles in Ethiopian Manuscripts Project. With her Indian background and Gujarati as her mother-tongue, Humera will be able to correspond with scholars in India, an endeavour that will benefit from her previous experience in communication while working for Ontario's Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services alongside Child Welfare. In addition to this, she will also develop a bibliography of available sources in our own Library system and through her Bharuchi contacts around the Indian Ocean, to ascertain what otherwise might only be found locally.

River Hobel

River Hobel (2023-), a doctoral candidate in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto, is interested in tracking the movement of Christianity through the Horn of Africa during the late antique and early medieval periods. His research focuses both on Gǝ'ǝz compositions and on the Ethiopian reception of earlier Judeo-Christian texts. River is committed to incorporating interdisciplinary methodologies into his work, in order to better account for the complexities of life for those of ancient Ethiopia's diverse communities. His Master’s work proposed resituating the Enochic Book of Parables in accordance with the principles of ‘New Philology.’

Carolin Schäfer

Carolin Schäfer is a PhD candidate in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany and the University of Toronto, Canada under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Franz Alto Bauer and Prof. Dr. Michael Gervers.

Her project focuses on the collection of Ethiopian icons in the Museum Fünf Kontinente in Munich. In addition to creating the first coherent catalogue of the collection, she aims to gain a better understanding of the intercultural influences and expressions within the medium and to analyse their development by including other collections such as that of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Her previous academic work has focused on the murals of the Yəmrəḥannä Krəstos Church in the Lasta Mountains of Ethiopia, and Lalibäla as an expression of the Ethiopian Church's understanding of Jerusalem. She holds degrees in Art History (M.A., B.A.) and Archaeology (B.A.). For TEM, she is recording pastedowns among the many Ethiopian manuscripts in Germany.

Bethlehem Tesfaye

Bethlehem Tesfaye (2023-) is a University of Toronto Alumna with a major in Health Studies (Population Health) and a double minor in African Studies and Sociology. Bethlehem is a research assistant for the TEM project and received the University of Toronto Excellence Award (UTEA) for the Summer 2023 term. Bethlehem uses manuscripts from Portuguese explorers to investigate textiles and trade routes from the 15th to 19th centuries in Ethiopia.

Noah Verhoeff

Noah Verhoeff (2022-23) majors in Peace, Conflict, and Justice (PCJ) and History at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. He is currently a Research Assistant for Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, as an author mobilizing knowledge of Anishinaabe teachings. Noah’s work as a Research Associate with the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Languages has included digital design work on the Gnaaji-wiinge: Anishinaabe Life Path Board Game, and research and writing for the Thirteen Moons Graphic Novel. As well, Noah is working as a Research and Policy Intern at the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and as an Educator at the Aga Khan Museum. Noah is also the author of The Red Castle, a historical fiction novel. In this project, Noah aids in the retrieval of textile sources and bibliographical sources, and contributes to research regarding Early Modern Indian Oceanic trade.