Katharina KASKA, Austria | May 21, 2018 | 10 am

The session From Analogue Death to Digital Rebirth was inspired by two areas of research that are of specific interest to the Austrian National Library: palimpsests and manuscript fragments. Both share a common goal – reconstructing written heritage – that should also bind together the talks in this session.

Multi spectral imaging combined with digital imaging techniques and processing by image scientists now allows scientists to enhance the legibility of severely damaged manuscripts. Using these new methods a re-examination of the Austrian National Library’s holding of Greek palimpsests lead to the discovery of several new texts. Most prominent among them are the so-called Scythica Vindobonensia, a historical text from the 3rd century.

Scythica Vindobonensia, upper text (ÖNB, Cod. Hist. gr. 73, f. 193r)

Scythica Vindobonensia, lower text (ÖNB, Cod. Hist. gr. 73, f. 193r, lower text. Spectral imaging by the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library. Processed image by David Kelbe. © Project FWF P 24523-G19)

For the physical reconstruction of cut-up and dispersed material advances in online databases proved to be the turning point for research. It is therefore not surprising that the past years have seen a notable surge of interest in medieval manuscript fragments. Those remnants are found in abundance in every large library either still in-situ in bindings or detached and largely forgotten. For a long time reconstructing broken up books war done by leafing through large numbers of manuscripts and catalogues and trying to discover common features. With the arrival new databases it is now possible to host images and specified information on fragments and thereby search and compare single pieces. This has prompted the Austrian National Library to focus onto the digitization, online presentation and reconstruction of manuscript fragments.

These two topics only show a small part of current research on the reconstruction of written heritage. Talks on different techniques, databases, projects as well as case studies are welcomed to submit a proposal: https://www.chnt.at/from-analogue-death-to-digital-re-birth-reconstructing-written-heritage/