(Austrian Academy of Sciences, Division of Byzantine Research (IMAFO), Vienna, Austria)
Keywords: “Greek palimpsests” “Vienna manuscripts” “digital recovery”
While the research on Greek palimpsests in the Austrian National Library started already more than hundred years ago and with using ultraviolet light and ultraviolet photography culminated for the first time in the 1960s to 1990s, during the compilation of the modern catalogue by Herbert Hunger and Otto Kresten who reached outstanding results in this respect, many important texts could only be revealed and studied in the past 15 years thanks to advantages of digital recovery of erased writings. Since 2001 several projects have been conducted at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Division of Byzantine Research) in international cooperation with leading scholars in pertinent fields, focusing on deciphering, editing and examining the important Ancient Greek and Byzantine texts hidden as palimpsests under later writings as well as on an in-depth palaeographical and codicological analysis of the manuscripts themselves. Multispectral imaging and special image processing by several scientific teams have enabled the scholars to read and study texts that had hitherto been invisible: Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL, California), Technische Universität Wien (lately within the Project CIMA), and Fotoscientifica (Parma, Italy). In addition, X-ray fluorescence imaging was performed on problematic areas of one palimpsest (containing a newly discovered unique historical text from the 3rd cent. AD) in cooperation with the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY (Hamburg) and the German Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM, Berlin). This talk focuses on the advances of the digital recovery of erased writings for the scholarly research and the lessons learned in the past 15 years, using examples from the important collection of Greek palimpsests in the Austrian National Library.