The absence of a sufficient and relevant quantity of archival sources on the medieval and early modern periods of Iran and other areas of the Persian cultural sphere has been lamented for a long time. While the situation is still in no way comparable to other fields of historical research, whether one looks at Europe or other regions of the Islamic World, such as those under Ottoman rule, the last decades have shown that much more documents have survived than hitherto surmised. A large number of archival material from all periods and regions continues to be published and more and more private and public collections are now accessible.
Much of this material, however, is difficult to locate and, if published, often dispersed haphazardly over a large number of journals and monographs. Thus, it is difficult to get a concrete idea of what kind of primary sources, both published and unpublished, are actually available. Archives might be accessible only for a limited time or with much effort, while material continues to be shifted between various institutions and a vast number of documents is still held in private collections. Earlier attempts to provide digests and repertoires of published documents have suffered from the fact that they are soon outdated and, once printed, can not be amended easily. In most instances, they focused either on a certain type of documents or dealt with only one region or period. Furthermore, one still had to locate and obtain the journals and monographs in which the documents were originally published.
The aim of the present project is to alleviate difficulties in primary access to archives and collections and to make the increasing number of published documents more easily obtainable. It creates a virtual archive of Persian documents that is easily accessible and offers concise search options for documents of a particular period or region, or those involving a specific person, topic or location. Of central concern is the inclusion of facsimiles and reproductions with high resolution that allows work on archival material without recourse to the original - often remote - place of publication or storage. Provided they are available, critical editions are incorporated as downloadable pdf-files. Digital text editions, however, are not envisaged at present.