Archive for the ‘Manuscripts’ Category

Computus manuscripts and where to find them

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Computus manuscripts and where to find them

An interactive map of computus manuscripts by place of preservation.

A poor screen shot:

From the about page:

Welcome to the bèta version of, an online platform for teaching and research in studies of the medieval science of computus. consists of a catalogue of computistical manuscripts and computistical objects, a bibliography, and a number of resources (such as a Mirador-viewer and data visualizations).

Follow @computuslat on Twitter for updates.

Kind regards,
Thom Snijders

Over 500 manuscripts online!

Oh, Computus:

Computus in its simplest definition is the art of ascertaining time by the course of the sun and the moon. This art could be and was a theoretical science, such as that explored by Johannes of Sacrobosco in his De sphera–a science based on arithmetical calculations and astronomical measurements derived from use of the astrolabe or, increasingly by the end of the 13th century, the solar quadrant. In the context of the present exhibit, however, computus is understood mainly as the practical application of these calculations. To reckon time in the broadest sense and to determine the date of Easter became one and the same effort. And for most people, understanding the problem of correct alignment of solar, lunar, yearly and weekly cycles to arrive at the date of Easter was simply reduced to a question of “when?” rather than “why?”. The result was a profusion of calculation formulae, charts and memory devices.

Accompanying these handy mechanisms for determining the date of Easter were many other bits of calendrical information that faith, prejudice and experience leveled to the same degree of acceptance and necessity: the lucky and the unlucky days for travel or for eating goose; the prognostications of rain or wind; the times for bloodletting; the signs of the zodiac; the phases of the moon; the number of hours of sunshine in a given day; the feasts of the saints; the Sundays in a perpetual calendar.

Take heed of the line: “The result was a profusion of calculation formulae, charts and memory devices.” (emphasis added)

And you think we have trouble with daylight savings time and time zones. 😉

Pass this along to manuscript scholars, liturgy buffs, historians, anyone interested in out diverse religious history.

Medieval illuminated manuscripts

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Medieval illuminated manuscripts by Robert Miller (reference and instruction librarian at the University of Maryland University College)

From the post:

With their rich representation of medieval life and thought, illuminated manuscripts serve as primary sources for scholars in any number of fields: history, literature, art history, women’s studies, religious studies, philosophy, the history of science, and more.

But you needn’t be conducting research to immerse yourself in the world of medieval manuscripts. The beauty, pathos, and earthy humor of illuminated manuscripts make them a delight for all. Thanks to digitization efforts by libraries and museums worldwide, the colorful creations of the medieval imagination—dreadful demons, armies of Amazons, gardens, gems, bugs, birds, celestial vistas, and simple scenes of everyday life—are easily accessible online.

I count:

  • 10 twitter accounts to follow/search
  • 11 sites with manuscript collections
  • 15 blogs and other manuscript sites

A great resource for students of all ages who are preparing research papers!

Enjoy and pass this one along!

Digitised Manuscripts hyperlinks Spring 2017

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Digitised Manuscripts hyperlinks Spring 2017

From the post:

From ancient papyri to a manuscript given by the future Queen Elizabeth I to King Henry VIII for New Year’s Day, from books written entirely in gold to Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, there is a wealth of material on the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts site. At the time of writing, you can view on Digitised Manuscripts no fewer than 1,783 manuscripts made in Europe before 1600, and more are being added all the time. For a full list of what is currently available, please see this file: Download PDF of Digitised MSS Spring 2017. This is also available in the form of a spreadsheet (although this format can not be downloaded on all web browsers): Download Spreadsheet of Digitised MSS Spring 2017.

The post is replete with guidance on use of the Digitised Manuscripts and other aids for the reader.

These works won’t interest Washington illiterati, but I don’t read to please others, only myself.

So should you.

New MorphGNT Releases and Accentuation Analysis

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

New MorphGNT Releases and Accentuation Analysis by James Tauber.

From the post:

Back in 2015, I talked about Annotating the Normalization Column in MorphGNT. This post could almost be considered Part 2.

I recently went back to that work and made a fresh start on a new repo gnt-accentuation intended to explain the accentuation of each word in the GNT (and eventually other Greek texts). There’s two parts to that: explaining why the normalized form is accented the way it but then explaining why the word-in-context might be accented differently (clitics, etc). The repo is eventually going to do both but I started with the latter.

My goal with that repo is to be part of the larger vision of an “executable grammar” I’ve talked about for years where rules about, say, enclitics, are formally written up in a way that can be tested against the data. This means:

  • students reading a rule can immediately jump to real examples (or exceptions)
  • students confused by something in a text can immediately jump to rules explaining it
  • the correctness of the rules can be tested
  • errors in the text can be found

It is the fourth point that meant that my recent work uncovered some accentuation issues in the SBLGNT, normalization and lemmatization. Some of that has been corrected in a series of new releases of the MorphGNT: 6.08, 6.09, and 6.10. See for details of specifics. The reason for so many releases was I wanted to get corrections out as soon as I made them but then I found more issues!

There are some issues in the text itself which need to be resolved. See the Github issue for details. I’d very much appreciate people’s input.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more progress on gnt-accentuation.

Was it random chance that I saw this announcement from James and Getting your hands dirty with the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit on the same day?


I should mention that Codex Sinaiticus (second oldest witness to the Greek New Testament) and numerous other Greek NT manuscripts have been digitized by the British Library.

Paring these resources together offers a great opportunity to discover the Greek NT text as choices made by others. (Same holds true for the Hebrew Bible as well.)

Getting your hands dirty with the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Getting your hands dirty with the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit by Emma Stanford. (3 March 2017 3.00pm — 5.00pm Venue: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (Map)

From the webpage:

In this workshop offered jointly by Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services and the Centre for Digital Scholarship, you’ll learn how to make the most of the digitized resources at the Bodleian, the BnF, the Vatican Library and a host of other institutions, using software tools built around the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). After a brief introduction to the main concepts of IIIF, you’ll learn how to use Mirador and the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit to gather images from different institutions into a single viewer; rearrange, remix and enhance image sequences and add new descriptive metadata; add transcriptions and annotations to digitized images; and embed zoomable images or whole manuscripts into your own website or blog. You’ll leave with your own virtual workspace, stocked with the images you’re using.

This event is open to all. No technological or scholarly expertise is necessary. The workshop will be most useful if you already have a few digitized books or manuscripts in mind that you’d like to work with, but if you don’t, we can help you find some. In addition to manuscripts, the tools can be applied to digitized printed books, maps, paintings and ephemera.

To participate in the workshop, you will need your own laptop, with internet access via eduroam or the Bodleian Libraries network.

If you are planning on being at the Bodleian on 3 March 2017, call ahead to reserve a seat for this free event!

If not, explore Mirador and the Digital Manuscripts Toolkit on your own.

Practical Palaeography: Recreating the Exeter Book in a Modern Day ‘Scriptorium’

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Practical Palaeography: Recreating the Exeter Book in a Modern Day ‘Scriptorium’

From the post:

Dr Johanna Green is a lecturer in Book History and Digital Humanities at the University of Glasgow. Her PhD (English Language, University of Glasgow 2012) focused on a palaeographical study of the textual division and subordination of the Exeter Book manuscript. Here, she tells us about the first of two sessions she led for the Society of Northumbrian Scribes, a group of calligraphers based in North East England, bringing palaeographic research and modern-day calligraphy together for the public.
(emphasis in original)

Not phrased in subject identity language, but concerns familiar to the topic map community are not far away:

My own research centres on the scribal hand of the manuscript, specifically the ways in which the poems are divided and subdivided from one another and the decorative designs used for these litterae notabiliores throughout. For much of my research, I have spent considerable time (perhaps more than I am willing to admit) wondering where one ought to draw the line with palaeography. When do the details become so tiny to no longer be of any significance? When are they just important enough to mean something significant for our understanding of how the manuscript was created and arranged? How far am I willing to argue that these tiny features have significant impact? Is, for example, this littera notabilior Đ on f. 115v (Judgement Day I, left) different enough in a significant way to this H on f.97v, (The Partridge, bottom right), and in turn are both of these litterae notabiliores performing a different function than the H on f.98r (Soul and Body II, far right)?[5]
(emphasis in original, footnote omitted)

When Dr. Green says:

…When do the details become so tiny to no longer be of any significance?…

I would say: When do the subjects (details) become so tiny we want to pass over them in silence? That is they could be but are not represented in a topic map.

Green ends her speculation, to a degree, by enlisting scribes to re-create the manuscript of interest under her observation.

I’ll leave her conclusions for her post but consider a secondary finding:

The experience also made me realise something else: I had learned much by watching them write and talking to them during the process, but I had also learned much by trying to produce the hand myself. Rather than return to Glasgow and teach my undergraduates the finer details of the script purely through verbal or written description, perhaps providing space for my students to engage in the materials of manuscript production, to try out copying a script/exemplar for themselves would help increase their understanding of the process of writing and, in turn, deepen their knowledge of the constituent parts of a letter and their significance in palaeographic endeavour. This last is something I plan to include in future palaeography teaching.

Dr. Green’s concern over palaeographic detail illustrates two important points about topic maps:

  1. Potential subjects for a topic map are always unbounded.
  2. Different people “see” different subjects.

Which also account for my yawn when Microsoft drops the Microsoft Concept Graph of more than 5.4 million concepts.

…[M]ore than 5.4 million concepts[?]

Hell, Copleston’s History of Western Philosophy easily has more concepts.

But the Microsoft Concept Graph is more useful than a topic map of Copleston in your daily, shallow, social sea.

What subjects do you see and how would capturing them and their identities make a difference in your life (professional or otherwise)?


Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Johan Oosterman tweets:

Look, the next page begins with these words! Very helpful man makes clear how catchwords work. HuntingtonHM1048



Catchwords were originally used to keep pages in order for binding. You won’t encounter them in post-19th century materials but still interesting from a markup perspective.

The catchword and in this case with a graphic, appears on the page and the next page does appear with these words. Do you capture the catchword? Its graphic? The relationship between the catchword and the opening words of the next page? What if there is an error?

Voynich Manuscript:…

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Voynich Manuscript: word vectors and t-SNE visualization of some patterns by Christian S. Perone.

From the post:


The Voynich Manuscript is a hand-written codex written in an unknown system and carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438). Although the manuscript has been studied by some famous cryptographers of the World War I and II, nobody has deciphered it yet. The manuscript is known to be written in two different languages (Language A and Language B) and it is also known to be written by a group of people. The manuscript itself is always subject of a lot of different hypothesis, including the one that I like the most which is the “culture extinction” hypothesis, supported in 2014 by Stephen Bax. This hypothesis states that the codex isn’t ciphered, it states that the codex was just written in an unknown language that disappeared due to a culture extinction. In 2014, Stephen Bax proposed a provisional, partial decoding of the manuscript, the video of his presentation is very interesting and I really recommend you to watch if you like this codex. There is also a transcription of the manuscript done thanks to the hard-work of many folks working on it since many moons ago.

Word vectors

My idea when I heard about the work of Stephen Bax was to try to capture the patterns of the text using word2vec. Word embeddings are created by using a shallow neural network architecture. It is a unsupervised technique that uses supervided learning tasks to learn the linguistic context of the words. Here is a visualization of this architecture from the TensorFlow site:

Proof that word vectors can be used to analyze unknown texts and manuscripts!


PS: Glance at the right-hand column of Christian’s blog. If you are interested in data analysis using Python, he would be a great person to follow on Twitter: Christian S. Perone

New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room

From the webpage:

This site is devoted to the study of Greek New Testament manuscripts. The New Testament Virtual Manuscript Room is a place where scholars can come to find the most exhaustive list of New Testament manuscript resources, can contribute to marking attributes about these manuscripts, and can find state of the art tools for researching this rich dataset.

While our tools are reasonably functional for anonymous users, they provide additional features and save options once a user has created an account and is logged in on the site. For example, registered users can save transcribed pages to their personal account and create personalized annotations to images.

A close friend has been working on this project for several years. Quite remarkable although I would prefer it to feature Hebrew (and older) texts. 😉

Digital Approaches to Hebrew Manuscripts

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Digital Approaches to Hebrew Manuscripts

Monday 18th – Tuesday 19th of May 2015

From the webpage:

We are delighted to announce the programme for On the Same Page: Digital Approaches to Hebrew Manuscripts at King’s College London. This two-day conference will explore the potential for the computer-assisted study of Hebrew manuscripts; discuss the intersection of Jewish Studies and Digital Humanities; and share methodologies. Amongst the topics covered will be Hebrew palaeography and codicology, the encoding and transcription of Hebrew texts, the practical and theoretical consequences of the use of digital surrogates and the visualisation of manuscript evidence and data. For the full programme and our Call for Posters, please see below.

Organised by the Departments of Digital Humanities and Theology & Religious Studies (Jewish Studies)
Co-sponsor: Centre for Late Antique & Medieval Studies (CLAMS), King’s College London

I saw this at the blog for DigiPal: Digital Resource and Database of Palaeolography, Manuscript Studies and Diplomatic. Confession, I have never understood how the English derive acronyms and this confounds me as much as you. 😉

Be sure to look around at the DigiPal site. There are numerous manuscript images, annotation techniques, and other resources for those who foster scholarship by contributing to it.


Friday, May 1st, 2015

OPenn: Primary Digital Resources Available to All through Penn Libraries’ New Online Platform by Jessie Dummer.

From the post:

The Penn Libraries and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies are thrilled to announce the launch of OPenn: Primary Resources Available to Everyone (, a new website that makes digitized cultural heritage material freely available and accessible to the public. OPenn is a major step in the Libraries’ strategic initiative to embrace open data, with all images and metadata on this site available as free cultural works to be freely studied, applied, copied, or modified by anyone, for any purpose. It is crucial to the mission of SIMS and the Penn Libraries to make these materials of great interest and research value easy to access and reuse. The OPenn team at SIMS has been working towards launching the website for the past year. Director Will Noel’s original idea to make our Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts open to all has grown into a space where the Libraries can collaborate with other institutions who want to open their data to the world.

Images of the manuscripts are currently available on OPenn at full resolution, with derivatives also provided for easy reuse on the web. Downloading, whether several select images or the entire dataset, is easily accomplished by following instructions or recipes posted in the Technical Read Me on OPenn. The website is designed to be machine-readable, but easy for individuals to use, too.

Oh, the manuscripts themselves?

Licensing is a real treat:

All images and their contents from the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection are free of known copyright restrictions and in the public domain. See the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark page for more information on terms of use:

Unless otherwise stated, all manuscript descriptions and other cataloging metadata are ©2015 The University of Pennsylvania Libraries. They are licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Licensed version 4.0 (CC-BY-4.0):

For a description of the terms of use see, the Creative Commons Deed:

In substance and licensing such a departure from academic societies that still consider comping travel and hotel rooms as “fostering scholarship.” “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)

Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction edited by: Alessandro Bausi (General editor), et al.

The “homepage” of this work enables you to download the entire volume or individual chapters, depending upon your interests. It provides a lengthy introduction to codicology, palaeography, textual criticism and text editing, and of special interest to library students, cataloguing as well as conservation and preservation.

Alessandro Bausi writes in the preface:

Thinking more broadly, our project was also a serious attempt to defend and preserve the COMSt-related fields within the academic world. We know that disciplines and fields are often determined and justified by the mere existence of an easily accessible handbook or, in the better cases, sets of handbooks, textbooks, series and journals. The lack of comprehensive introductory works which are reliable, up-to-date, of broad interest and accessible to a wide audience and might be used in teaching, has a direct impact on the survival of the ‘small subjects’ most of the COMSt-related disciplines pertain to. The decision to make the COMSt handbook freely accessible online and printable on demand in a paper version at an affordable price was strategic in this respect, and not just meant to meet the prescriptions of the European Science Foundation. We deliberately declined to produce an extremely expensive work that might be bought only by a few libraries and research institutions; on the other hand, a plain electronic edition only to be accessed and downloaded as a PDF file was not regarded as a desirable solution either. Dealing with two millennia of manuscripts and codices, we did not want to dismiss the possibility of circulating a real book in our turn.

It remains, hopefully, only to say,

Lector intende: laetaberis

John Svarlien says: A rough translation is: “Reader, pay attention. You will be happy you did.”

We are all people of books. It isn’t possible to separate present day culture and what came before it from books. Even people who shun reading of books, are shaped by forces that can be traced back to books.

But books did not suddenly appear as mass-printed paperbacks in airport lobbies and checkout lines in grocery stores. There is a long history of books prior to printing to the edges of the formation of codices.

This work is an introduction to the fascinating world of studying manuscripts and codices prior to the invention of printing. When nearly every copy of a work is different from every other copy, you can imagine the debates over which copy is the “best” copy.

Imagine some versions of “Gone with the Wind” ending with:

  • Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. (traditional)
  • Ashley and I don’t give a damn. (variant)
  • Cheat Ashley out of his business I suppose. (variant)
  • (Lacks a last line due to mss. damage.) (variant)

The “text” of yesteryear lacked the uniform sameness of the printed “text” of today.

When you think about your “favorite” version in the Bible, it is likely a “majority” reading but hardly the only one.

With the advent of the printing press, texts took on the opportunity to be uniformly produced in mass quantities.

With the advent of electronic texts, either due to editing or digital corruption, we are moving back towards non-uniform texts.

Will we see the birth of digital codicology and its allied fields for digital texts?

PS: Please forward the notice of this book to your local librarian.

I first saw this in a tweet by Kirk Lowery.

Greek Digitisation Project Update: 40 Manuscripts Newly Uploaded

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Greek Digitisation Project Update: 40 Manuscripts Newly Uploaded by Sarah J Biggs.

From the post:

We have now passed the half-way point of this phase of the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, generously funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and many others, including the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Sam Fogg, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, the Thriplow Charitable Trust, and the Friends of the British Library. What treasures are in store for you this month? To begin with, there are quite a few interesting 17th- and 18th-century items to look at, including two very fine 18th-century charters, with seals intact, an iconographic sketch-book (Add MS 43868), and a fascinating Greek translation of an account of the siege of Vienna in 1683 (Add MS 38890). We continue to upload some really exciting Greek bindings – of particular note here are Add MS 24372 and Add MS 36823. A number of scrolls have also been uploaded, mostly containing the Liturgy of Basil of Caesarea. A number of Biblical manuscripts are included, too, but this month two manuscripts of classical authors take pride of place: Harley MS 5600, a stunning manuscript of the Iliad from 15th-century Florence, and Burney MS 111, a lavishly decorated copy of Ptolemy’s Geographia.

Additional riches from the British Library!


Qatar Digital Library

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

New Qatar Digital Library Offers Readers Unrivalled Collection of Precious Heritage Material

From the post:

The Qatar Digital Library which provides new public access to over half a million pages of precious historic archive and manuscript material has been launched today thanks to the British Library-Qatar Foundation Partnership project. This incredible resource makes documents and other items relating to the modern history of Qatar, the Gulf region and beyond, fully accessible and free of charge to researchers and the general public through a state-of-the-art online portal.

In line with the principles of the Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims to preserve the nation’s heritage and enhance Arab and Islamic values and identity, the launch of the Qatar Digital Library supports QF’s aim of unlocking human potential for the benefit of Qatar and the world.

Qatar National Library, a member of Qatar Foundation, has a firm commitment to preserving and showcasing Qatar’s heritage and promoting education and community development by sharing knowledge and providing resources to students, researchers, and the wider community.

With Qatar Foundation’s support, an expert, technical team has been preserving and digitising materials from the UK’s India Office Records archives over the past two years in order to be shared publicly on the portal owned and managed by Qatar National Library.

The Qatar Digital Library provides online access to over 475,000 pages from the India Office Records that date from the mid-18th century to 1951, and relate to modern historic events in Qatar, the Gulf and the Middle East region.

In addition, the Qatar Digital Library shares 25,000 pages of medieval Arab Islamic sciences manuscripts, historical maps, photographs and sound recordings.

These precious materials are being made available online for the first time. The Qatar Digital Library provides clear descriptions of the digitised materials in Arabic and English, and can be accessed for personal and research use from anywhere free of charge.

The Qatar Digital Library (homepage).

Simply awesome!

A great step towards unlocking the riches of Arab scholarship.

I first saw this in British Library Launches Qatar Digital Library by Africa S. Hands.

Another Greek update: Forty-six more manuscripts online!

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Another Greek update: Forty-six more manuscripts online! by Sarah J. Biggs.

From the post:

It’s time for a monthly progress report on our Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project, generously funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and many others, including the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Sam Fogg, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, the Thriplow Charitable Trust, and the Friends of the British Library. There are some very exciting items in this batch, most notably the famous Codex Crippsianus(Burney MS 95), the most important manuscript for the text of the Minor Attic Orators; Egerton MS 942, a very fine copy of Demosthenes; a 19th-century poem and prose narrative on the Greek Revolution (Add MS 35072); a number of collections of 16th- and 17th-century complimentary verses in Greek and Latin dedicated to members of the Royal Family; and an exciting array of classical and patristic texts.

Texts that helped to shape the world we experience today. As did others but Greek texts played a special role in European history.

You can find ways to support the Greek Digitization project here.

I prefer, ahem, other material and for that you can consult:

The Latest, Greatest, Up-To-Datest Giant List of Digitised Manuscripts Hyperlinks.

Which list 1111 (eleventy-one-one?) manuscripts. Quite impressive.

Do consider supporting the British Library in this project and others. Some profess interest in sharing our common heritage. The British Library is sharing our common heritage. Your choice.

Forty-four More Greek Manuscripts Online

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Forty-four More Greek Manuscripts Online by James Freeman.

From the post:

We are delighted to announce another forty-four Greek manuscripts have been digitised. As always, we are most grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Sam Fogg, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation, the Thriplow Charitable Trust, the Friends of the British Library, and our other generous benefactors for contributing to the digitisation project. Happy exploring!

A random sampling:

Add MS 31921, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 336), imperfect, 12th century, with some leaves supplied in the 14th century. Formerly in Blenheim Palace Library.

Add MS 34059, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 939), with ekphonetic neumes. 12th century.,

Add MS 36660, Old Testament lectionary with ekphonetic notation, and fragments from a New Testament lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1490). 12th century.

Add MS 37320, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 2290). 10th century, with additions from the 16th-17th century.


Burney MS 106, Sophocles, Ajax, Electra, Oedipus Tyrannus, Antigone; [Aeschylus], Prometheus Vinctus; Pindar, Olympia. End of the 15th century.

Burney MS 108, Aelian, Tactica; Leo VI, Tactica; Heron of Alexandria, Pneumatica, De automatis, with numerous diagrams. 1st quarter of the 16th century, possibly written at Venice.

Burney MS 109, Works by Theocritus, Hesiod, Pindar, Pythagoras and Aratus. 2nd half of the 14th century, Italy.

And many more!

Given the complex histories of the texts witnessed by these Greek manuscripts, their interpretations and commentaries, to say nothing of the history of the manuscripts per se, they are rich subjects that merit treatment with a topic map.

Be sure to visit the other treasures of the British Library. It is an exemplar of how an academic institution should function.

Thirty-three Greek Biblical manuscripts added to Digitised Manuscripts

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Thirty-three Greek Biblical manuscripts added to Digitised Manuscripts by Cillian O’Hogan.

From the post:

The third phase of the British Library's Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project is now well underway. So far, the following items, all Greek biblical items, have been added to Digitised Manuscripts. We will continue to update the blog with new additions over the course of the year, and will also look at some individual manuscripts in more detail in later posts. We are extremely grateful to the foundations and individuals who have funded this project, especially the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the A. G. Leventis Foundation, Sam Fogg, the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation and the Thriplow Charitable Trust.

Add MS 24112, Four Gospels in Greek (Gregory-Aland 694; Scrivener evan. 598; von Soden ε 502), written throughout with space for a Latin translation, which has been added for a small number of verses. 15th century, possibly Italy.

Add MS 24373, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 695; Scrivener evan. 599; von Soden ε 327), with illuminated Evangelist portraits. 13th century. Also online is an old 19th-century binding for this manuscript.

Add MS 24374, Fragments from a Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 325; Scrivener evst. 273). 13th century.

Add MS 24376, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 696; Scrivener evan. 600; von Soden ε 328), with illuminated Evangelist portraits (St Mark illustrated above). 14th century (illuminations added in the 16th century), Constantinople.

Add MS 24377, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 326; Scrivener evst. 274), with ekphonetic notation, imperfect. 2nd half of the 12th century, possibly from the Monastery of Patir in southern Italy.

Add MS 24378, Menaion for September, October, November, December, January and February (Gregory-Aland l 927; Scrivener evst. 275). 13th/14th century.

Add MS 24379, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 327; Scrivener evst. 276), imperfect. 14th century.

Add MS 24380, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 328; Scrivener evst. 277), with ekphonetic notation, imperfect. 14th century.

Add MS 27860, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 329; Scrivener evst. 278), imperfect at the beginning, with marginal decorations thruoghout. Late 10th/early 11th century, Southern Italy (possibly Capua). Also online is an old 17th-century binding for this manuscript.

Add MS 27861, Gospels (Gregory-Aland e 698; Scrivener evan 602; von Soden ε 436), imperfect (lacking Matthew). 14th century.

Add MS 28815, New Testament, imperfect (Gregory-Aland 699; Scrivener evst. 603; von Soden δ 104), with Evangelist portraits and a silver-gilt plated cover. Mid-10th century, Constantinople. The subject of a recent blog post along with Egerton 3145.

Add MS 28816, New Testament, from Acts onwards (Gregory-Aland 203; Scrivener act. 232; von Soden α 203), with Euthalian apparatus, and other works. Written between 1108 and 1111 by the monk Andreas in March 1111, in the cell of the monk Meletius in the monastery of the Saviour.

Add MS 28818, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 331; Scrivener evst. 280). 1272, written by the monk Metaxares.

Add MS 29713, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 332; Scrivener evst. 62), imperfect at the beginning. 14th century.

Add MS 31208, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 333; Scrivener evst *281), imperfect. 13th century, possibly Constantinople.

Add MS 31920, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 335; Scrivener evst 283), imperfect and mutilated. 12th century, South Italy (possibly Reggio).

Add MS 32051, Lectionary of the Acts and Epistles, imperfect, with ekphonetic notation (Gregory-Aland l 169; Scrivener apost. 52). 13th century.

Add MS 32341, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 494; Scrivener evan. 325; von Soden ε 437), imperfect. 14th century.

Add MS 33214, New Testament: Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 1765; von Soden α 486). 14th century.

Add MS 33277, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 892; von Soden ε 1016; Scrivener evan. 892). 9th century, with replacement leaves added in the 13th and 16th centuries.

Add MS 34108, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 1280; Scrivener evan. 322; von Soden ε 1319). 12th century, with some replacement leaves added in the 15th century.

Add MS 34602, Fragments from two Psalters (Rahlfs-Fraenkel 2017, 1217) (illustrated above). 7th century and 10th century, Egypt.

Add MS 36751, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic neumes, called ἐκλογάδι(ον) (Gregory-Aland l 1491). Completed in 1008 at the Holy Monastery of Iviron, Mount Athos, by the scribe Theophanes.

Add MS 36752, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 2280). 12th century.

Add MS 37005, Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1493). 11th century.

Add MS 37006, Gospel Lectionary with ekphonetic neumes (Gregory-Aland l 1494 [=l 460]). 12th century, with late 13th-century replacements, including a full-page miniature of Christ and a figure identified as Andronicus II Palaeologus (Byzantine emperor 1282-1328) (illustrated above).

Add MS 38538, New Testament, Acts and Epistles (Gregory-Aland 2484), with Euthalian apparatus. Written by the scribe John in 1312

Add MS 39589, Psalter (Rahlfs 1092) with introduction and commentary based on that of Euthymius Zigabenus (PG 128), attributed in the manuscript to Nicephorus Blemmydes, imperfect, with ornamental headpieces and the remains of a miniature of the Psalmist. 2nd half of the 12th century.

Add MS 39590, New Testament, without the book of Revelation (Gregory-Aland 547; Scrivener evan. 534; von Soden δ 157). 11th century.

Add MS 39593, Four Gospels (Gregory-Aland 550; Scrivener evan. 537; von Soden ε 250), with prefaces taken from the commentary of Theophylact, and synaxaria. 12th century.

Add MS 39612, Revelation (Gregory-Aland 2041; Scrivener apoc. 96; von Soden α1475). The quire-numbers on ff 1v and 10v show the manuscript formed part of a larger volume, possibly Athos, Karakallou 121 (268) (Gregory-Aland 1040). 14th century, possibly Mount Athos.

Add MS 39623, Fragments from a Gospel Lectionary (Gregory-Aland l 1742). Late 14th century, possibly Mount Athos.

Egerton MS 3145, Epistles and Revelation (Gregory-Aland 699; Scrivener paul. 266; von Soden δ 104), concluding portion of the manuscript of the entire New Testament of which Add. MS 28815 is the earlier portion. Mid-10th century, Constantinople. Also online is an old (18th century?) binding for this manuscript.

I know a number of scholars who will be happy to learn of this latest batch of NT manuscripts. (I am awaiting similar projects with 3-D imaging of cuneiform.)

Cillian O’Hogan is fortunate to work at an institution that fosters scholarship, biblical and otherwise.

The Next Giant List of Digitised Manuscript Hyperlinks

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

The Next Giant List of Digitised Manuscript Hyperlinks by Sarah J. Biggs.

From the post:

It’s that time of year again, friends – when we inflict our quarterly massive list of manuscript hyperlinks upon an unsuspecting public. As always, this list contains everything that has been digitised up to this point by the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts department, complete with hyperlinks to each record on our Digitised Manuscripts site. There will be another updated list here on the blog in three months; you can download the current version here: Download BL Medieval and Earlier Digitised Manuscripts Master List 10.04.13. Have fun!

The listing has reached one of my favorites: Yates Thompson MS 36, also known as: Dante Alighieri, Divina commedia. Publication date proposed to be after 1444. (Warning: Do not view with Chrome. Warns of a “redirect loop.” Displays fine with Firefox.)

Great description of the manuscript plus three hundred and ninety-nine (399) images.

But it does seem to just lay there doesn’t it?


Codex Sinaiticus Added to Digitised Manuscripts

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Codex Sinaiticus Added to Digitised Manuscripts by Julian Harrison.

From the post (I have omitted the images, see the original post for those):

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the great treasures of the British Library. Written in the mid-4th century in the Eastern Mediterranean (possibly at Caesarea), it is one of the two oldest surviving copies of the Greek Bible, along with Codex Vaticanus, in Rome. Written in four narrow columns to the page (aside from in the Poetic books, in two columns), its visual appearance is particularly striking.

The significance of Codex Sinaiticus for the text of the New Testament is incalculable, not least because of the many thousands of corrections made to the manuscript between the 4th and 12th centuries.

The manuscript itself is now distributed between four institutions: the British Library, the Universitäts-Bibliothek at Leipzig, the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg, and the Monastery of St Catherine at Mt Sinai. Several years ago, these four institutions came together to collaborate on the Codex Sinaiticus Project, which resulted in full digital coverage and transcription of all extant parts of the manuscript. The fruits of these labours, along with many additional essays and scholarly resources, can be found on the Codex Sinaiticus website.

The British Library owns the vast majority of Codex Sinaiticus and only the British Library portion is being released as part of the Digitised Manuscripts project.

The world in which biblical scholarship is done has changed radically over the last 20 years.

This effort by the British Library should be applauded and supported.

Yet Another Giant List of Digitised Manuscript Hyperlinks

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Yet Another Giant List of Digitised Manuscript Hyperlinks

From the post:

A new year, a newly-updated list of digitised manuscript hyperlinks! This master list contains everything that has been digitised up to this point by the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts department, complete with hyperlinks to each record on our Digitised Manuscripts site. We’ll have another list for you in three months; you can download the current version here: Download BL Medieval and Earlier Digitised Manuscripts Master List 14.01.13. Have fun!

I count 921 digitized manuscripts, with more on the way!

A highly selective sampling:

That leaves 917 manuscripts for you to explore! With more on the way!

CAUTION! When I try to use Chrome on Ubuntu to access these links, I get: “This webpage has a redirect loop.” The same links work fine in Firefox. I have posted a comment about this issue to the post. Will update when I have more news. If your experience is same/different let me know. Just curious.



Vote by midnight January 26, 2014 to promote the Medieval Manuscripts Blog.

Vote for Medieval Manuscripts Blog in the UK Blog Awards

The Shelley-Godwin Archive

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

The Shelley-Godwin Archive

From the homepage:

The Shelley-Godwin Archive will provide the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, bringing together online for the first time ever the widely dispersed handwritten legacy of this uniquely gifted family of writers. The result of a partnership between the New York Public Library and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, in cooperation with Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the S-GA also includes key contributions from the Huntington Library, the British Library, and the Houghton Library. In total, these partner libraries contain over 90% of all known relevant manuscripts.

In case you don’t recognize the name, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus; William Godwin, philosopher, early modern (unfortunately theoretical) anarchist; Percy Bysshe Shelley, English Romantic Poet; Mary Wollstonescraft, writer, feminist. Quite a group for the time or even now.

From the About page on Technological Infrastructure:

The technical infrastructure of the Shelley-Godwin Archive builds on linked data principles and emerging standards such as the Shared Canvas data model and the Text Encoding Initiative’s Genetic Editions vocabulary. It is designed to support a participatory platform where scholars, students, and the general public will be able to engage in the curation and annotation of the Archive’s contents.

The Archive’s transcriptions and software applications and libraries are currently published on GitHub, a popular commercial host for projects that use the Git version control system.

  • TEI transcriptions and other data
  • Shared Canvas viewer and search service
  • Shared Canvas manifest generation

All content and code in these repositories is available under open licenses (the Apache License, Version 2.0 and the Creative Commons Attribution license). Please see the licensing information in each individual repository for additional details.

Shared Canvas and Linked Open Data

Shared Canvas is a new data model designed to facilitate the description and presentation of physical artifacts—usually textual—in the emerging linked open data ecosystem. The model is based on the concept of annotation, which it uses both to associate media files with an abstract canvas representing an artifact, and to enable anyone on the web to describe, discuss, and reuse suitably licensed archival materials and digital facsimile editions. By allowing visitors to create connections to secondary scholarship, social media, or even scenes in movies, projects built on Shared Canvas attempt to break down the walls that have traditionally enclosed digital archives and editions.

Linked open data or content is published and licensed so that “anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it—subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike,” (from with the additional requirement that when an entity such as a person, a place, or thing that has a recognizable identity is referenced in the data, the reference is made using a well-known identifier—called a universal resource identifier, or “URI”—that can be shared between projects. Together, the linking and openness allow conformant sets of data to be combined into new data sets that work together, allowing anyone to publish their own data as an augmentation of an existing published data set without requiring extensive reformulation of the information before it can be used by anyone else.

The Shared Canvas data model was developed within the context of the study of medieval manuscripts to provide a way for all of the representations of a manuscript to co-exist in an openly addressable and shareable form. A relatively well-known example of this is the tenth-century Archimedes Palimpsest. Each of the pages in the palimpsest was imaged using a number of different wavelengths of light to bring out different characteristics of the parchment and ink. For example, some inks are visible under one set of wavelengths while other inks are visible under a different set. Because the original writing and the newer writing in the palimpsest used different inks, the images made using different wavelengths allow the scholar to see each ink without having to consciously ignore the other ink. In some cases, the ink has faded so much that it is no longer visible to the naked eye. The Shared Canvas data model brings together all of these different images of a single page by considering each image to be an annotation about the page instead of a surrogate for the page. The Shared Canvas website has a viewer that demonstrates how the imaging wavelengths can be selected for a page.

One important bit, at least for topic maps, is the view of the Shared Canvas data model that:

each image [is considered] to be an annotation about the page instead of a surrogate for the page.

If I tried to say that or even re-say it, it would be much more obscure. 😉

Whether “annotation about” versus “surrogate for” will catch on beyond manuscript studies it’s hard to say.

Not the way it is usually said in topic maps but if other terminology is better understood, why not?

Choosing Crowdsourced Transcription Platforms at SSA 2013

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Choosing Crowdsourced Transcription Platforms at SSA 2013

Transcript of Ben Brumfield’s presentation at the Society of Southwestern Archivists. Audio available.

Ben covers the principles of crowd sourced projects, such as:

Now, I’m an open source developer, and in the open source world we tend to differentiate between “free as in beer” or “free as in speech”.


Crowdsourcing projects are really “free as in puppy”. The puppy is free, but you have to take care of it; you have to do a lot of work. Because volunteers that are participating in these things don’t like being ignored. They don’t like having their work lost. They’re doing something that they feel is meaningful and engaging with you, therefore you need to make sure their work is meaningful and engage with them.

For the details on tools, Ben points us to: Collaborative Transcription Tools.

You will need the technology side for a crowd sourced project, topic map related or not.

But don’t neglect the human side of such a project. At least if you want a successful project.

Crowdsourcing + Machine Learning…

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Crowdsourcing + Machine Learning: Nicholas Woodward at TCDL by Ben W. Brumfield.

I was so impressed by Nicholas Woodward’s presentation at TCDL this year that I asked him if I could share “Crowdsourcing + Machine Learning: Building an Application to Convert Scanned Documents to Text” on this blog.

Hi. My name is Nicholas Woodward, and I am a Software Developer for the University of Texas Libraries. Ben Brumfield has been so kind as to offer me an opportunity to write a guest post on his blog about my approach for transcribing large scanned document collections that combines crowdsourcing and computer vision. I presented my application at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries on May 7th, 2013, and the slides from the presentation are available on TCDL’s website. This purpose of this post is to introduce my approach along with a test collection and preliminary results. I’ll conclude with a discussion on potential avenues for future work.

Before we delve into algorithms for computer vision and what-not, I’d first like to say a word about the collection used in this project and why I think it’s important to look for new ways to complement crowdsourcing transcription. The Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (or AHPN, in Spanish) contains the records of the Guatemalan National Police from 1882-2005. It is estimated that AHPN contains more than 80 million pages of documents (8,000 linear meters) such as handwritten journals and ledgers, birth certificate and marriage license forms, identification cards and typewritten letters. To date, the AHPN staff have processed and digitized approximately 14 million pages of the collection, and they are publicly available in a digital repository that was developed by UT Libraries.

While unique for its size, AHPN is representative of an increasingly common problem in the humanities and social sciences. The nature of the original documents precludes any economical OCR solution on the scanned images (See below), and the immense size of the collection makes page-by-page transcription highly impractical, even when using a crowdsourcing approach. Additionally, the collection does not contain sufficient metadata to support browsing via commonly used traits, such as titles or authors of documents.

A post at the intersection of many of my interests!

Imagine pushing this just a tad further to incorporate management of subject identity, whether visible to the user or not.

You Say Beowulf, I Say Biowulf [Does Print Shape Digital?]

Monday, May 6th, 2013

You Say Beowulf, I Say Biowulf by Julian Harrison.

From the post:

Students of medieval manuscripts will know that it’s always instructive to consult the originals, rather than to rely on printed editions. There are many aspects of manuscript culture that do not translate easily onto the printed page — annotations, corrections, changes of scribe, the general layout, the decoration, ownership inscriptions.

Beowulf is a case in point. Only one manuscript of this famous Old English epic poem has survived, which is held at the British Library (Cotton MS Vitellius A XV). The writing of this manuscript was divided between two scribes, the first of whom terminated their stint with the first three lines of f. 175v, ending with the words “sceaden mæl scyran”; their counterpart took over at this point, implying that an earlier exemplar lay behind their text, from which both scribes copied.


Another distinction between those two scribes, perhaps less familiar to modern students of the text, is the varying way in which they spell the name of the eponymous hero Beowulf. On 40 occasions, Beowulf’s name is spelt in the conventional manner (the first is found in line 18 of the standard editions, the last in line 2510). However, in 7 separate instances, the name is instead spelt “Biowulf” (“let’s call the whole thing off), the first case coming in line 1987 of the poem.

I think you will enjoy the post, to say nothing of the images of the manuscript.

My topic map concern is with:

There are many aspects of manuscript culture that do not translate easily onto the printed page — annotations, corrections, changes of scribe, the general layout, the decoration, ownership inscriptions.

I take it that non-facsimile publication in print loses some of the richness of the manuscript.

My question is: To what extent have we duplicated the limitations of print media in digital publications?

For example, a book may have more than one index, but not more than one index of the same kind.

That is you can’t find a book that has multiple distinct subject indexes. Not surprising considering the printing cost of duplicate subject indexes, but we don’t have that limitation with electronic indexes.

Or do we?

In my experience anyway, electronic indexes mimic their print forefathers. Each electronic index stands on its own, even if each index is of the same work.

Assume we have a Spanish and English index, for the casual reader, to the plays of Shakespeare. Even in electronic form, I assume they would be created and stored as separate indexes.

But isn’t that simply replicating what we would experience with a print edition?

Can you think of other cases where our experience with print media has shaped our choices with digital artifacts?