Voices From The Dark

Martin Wainwright looks at three moments in history when the Islamic and Christian worlds have taken an eager interest in one another's affairs. Their instrument was translation, which at different times in Baghdad, Toledo and Istanbul, was given the highest priority.


01The Tongue That Wouldn't Die20040804

Syriac, the language of early Christianity, and later of the great translators of Baghdad, who took Greek learning into Arabic. Some books say that Syriac is now dead, fossilised in church liturgy and classical literature. This programme follows Martin Wainwright on a quest to see if Syriac is still a living language, a journey which takes him to the ancient Christian monasteries of South East Turkey.

02The Archbishop's Army20040811

"The Archbishop's Army" is about the translators of Toledo, the twelfth century scholars who headed to Spain from all over Europe in search of Arabic learning. Toledo was on the frontier between Christendom and Islam, and provided Arabic speakers, texts in Arabic, and a wealthy archbishop willing to sponsor the translators. This programme tells the story of the key players, and discovers how much of Toledo's Islamic heritage survives in the city today.

03 LASTThe Translation Bureau20040818

The Sublime Porte turned to Europe for a solution. The chosen model and the language of translation was French. But along with the administrative and technical information processed by the Sultan's Translation Bureau came foreign ideas and attitudes which changed the empire for ever, and laid the foundations for the modern state of Turkey.