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

The Vatican Library has identified in its own collections more than 550 manuscripts with palimpsests, i.e. erased and then recycled parchment folios. The palimpsests represent no less than 13 languages. This pathway intends to present this rich and scarcely explored material to the public by conducting an in-depth research on the palimpsests of twenty-four select manuscripts to recover their lost identities. The select manuscripts cover the history of Latin and Greek scripts from the fourth to the fifth century onward and embrace a wide range of literary genres and cultural contexts before the twelfth century, mostly of the Byzantine world. A particular selection sheds light on the history of textual scholarship carried out on the palimpsests. No single publication exists in which readers may access accurate information which has been accumulating over the last two hundred years on Vatican palimpsests in general. This pathway will pave new ways of research in the unexplored world of palimpsests for generations to come. In addition, it will encourage collaborative future projects between libraries in Italy and in the rest of Europe, which hold other parts of the Vatican palimpsests. The joint efforts of philology and digital technology will help to uncover the erased identities of the manuscripts.

The reader is invited to see all palimpsests present in the 24 manuscript selected for the pathway of Vatican Palimpsests. Each are identified with the shelfmark of the parent manuscript and then 'inf.' with an Arabic number showing the sequence of their appearance in the manuscript (e.g. Pal. lat. 24 <inf. 1> and Pal. lat. 24 <inf. 2>). In case the recycled leaves include two different undertexts, they are distinguished as e.g. Vat. gr. 984 <inf. 2.1> and Vat. gr. 984 <inf. 2.2>.