Vatican Palimpsests Digital Recovery of Erased Identities [by A. Németh]


Doc - 9 May 2019 - 16-491.jpg
From Petri Lambecii Commentariorum de Augustissima Bibliotheca Caesarea Vindobonensi liber III (Editio altera), Vindobonae 1776

The handwritten text in every manuscript is an intellectual product and it is much more than a replica of its model. In general, the copyist (or scribe) who writes the text closely follows a model and often undersigns his work with his name, the date and sometimes the location of the production of the manuscript. These undersignings often reveal the context of the manuscript production. We are able to see how a monk or a priest utilizes a writing surface with erased texts. Copying a text is a tiring and slow activity; it involves reading manuscript models, understanding complex texts and reproducing them in a form which guarantees easy access to the contents for many readers over centuries to come. It is a way of praying to the Lord by reproducing and recreating religious and other texts. After the text was accomplished, the scribe was often proud of the result and addressed the future reader of the text that he copied.

Compared with the form used by the same scribe in the codex, the more relaxed form of script reveals the relief after finishing a long and tiring activity, and sometimes a sense of humor as expressed in drawings or riddles which the scribe offers for the reader to solve as an intellectual challenge.

Let us have a closer look at these undersignings.

Scriptio superior: Antonios, Demetrios, George Baiophoros, John Chaldes, Makarios, Neilos, Theodoros

Scriptio inferior: Cotta, Nicianus

Vat. gr. 770, f. 106r - Undersigning of Makarios

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