Archive for the ‘digital humanities’ Tag

The twelve peoples with writing systems, according to a 15th-cent. Armenian manuscript   4 comments

The fifteenth century manuscript, Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia (ACC, Antelias, Lebanon) № 119, contains a large number of short texts, mostly anonymous, on theological and philosophical topics. One such short text (f. 350v), not really theological or philosophical, is a chart that lists the nations said to have a writing system. As the title indicates, there were supposed to be twelve, but the scribe only found eleven, as his concluding note says. In addition to the ethnonyms, to the right of each name is a number, which seems to be the number of letters thought to be in the writing system, although these are not altogether reliable. A similar text is published in Michael E. Stone, Armenian Apocrypha Relating to Adam & Eve, Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha 14 (Leiden, 1996), p. 163 (see p. 159 for more), but that text has a different list of peoples and different preceding and concluding remarks, nor is the number of letters for each script given.

ACC 119, f. 350v

ACC 119, f. 350v

So the text is:

Յաղագս բժ ազգացդ որ գիր ունին

Եբրայեցի գիրն իդ

Յունացն իբ

Հոռոմոցն իբ

Ասորոցն իբ

Հայոցն լզ

Աղ<ո>ւանն ժբ

Վրացին իէ

Եգիպտացին է

Հնդիկն թ

Տաճկացն իը

Թաթարին իա

Զմի ազգ չգտայ որ գրել էի

English translation:

On the Twelve Peoples that Have Writing

Hebrew writing 24

[The writing] of the Greeks 22

[The writing] of the  Romans 22

[The writing] of the Syrians 22

[The writing] of the Armenians 36

Albanian [writing] 12

Georgian [writing] 27

Egyptian [writing] 7

Indian [writing] 9

[The writing] of the Turks 28

Tatar [writing] 21

I did not find one people group which I was to write.

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Posts on the digitized BL Greek manuscripts   Leave a comment

For some time now it has been exciting to watch the progress of digitizing and sharing manuscripts in major collections (BL, BAV, BnF, &c.). Staff at the British Library have provided a lasting service to readers not only by photographing and freely sharing their Greek manuscripts, but also by writing regular blog posts on specific digitized manuscripts at the Medieval manuscripts blog. (See also the Asian and African studies blog for other manuscript highlights.) These posts give a quick survey of what’s available, along with a few example images. Of course, if you’re looking for a specific manuscript, you can search for it, but these posts are a great way to stumble upon new things. So for those who might want to peruse any or all of these several posts on digitized Greek manuscripts by the BL staff, here are links for them all in one place, arranged by date from most to least recent. A hearty thanks to the BL and the sponsors of this project!

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/03/the-greek-manuscripts-of-robert-curzon-part-ii.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/03/greek-manuscripts-digitisation-project-the-final-seventy-five-manuscripts-go-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/03/the-greek-manuscripts-of-robert-curzon-part-i.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/01/greek-manuscripts-digitisation-project-another-thirty-manuscripts-go-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/12/an-early-holiday-present-forty-six-new-greek-manuscripts-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/11/greek-digitisation-project-update-40-manuscripts-newly-uploaded.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/10/another-greek-update-forty-six-more-manuscripts-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/09/forty-four-more-greek-manuscripts-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/08/twenty-four-more-greek-manuscripts-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/07/thirty-three-greek-biblical-manuscripts-added-to-digitised-manuscripts.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/03/codex-sinaiticus-added-to-digitised-manuscripts.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/12/the-constitution-of-athens.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/10/precious-papyri.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/10/fancy-another-giant-list-of-digitised-manuscript-hyperlinks.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/09/the-bounty-of-byzantium.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/08/hooray-for-homer.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/12/new-testament-from-oldest-complete-bible-available-online.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2012/03/the-theodore-psalter.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/12/an-early-christmas-present-.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/11/digitised-manuscripts-500-landmark.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/10/digitised-manuscripts-update.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/06/greek-manuscripts-update.html
http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2011/05/more-greek-manuscripts-digitised-by-the-british-library.html

Some digitized Armenian manuscripts   Leave a comment

Readers of this blog are well aware of how the availability, greater or lesser, of digital images of manuscripts continues to make the study of manuscripts a much more likely possibility for students, scholars, and other readers. Thankfully, more and more libraries that are free to do so have made some or all of their own manuscripts freely available. Some recent searching led to these below for Armenian, and I thought others might appreciate having them listed together in one place. This is certainly not a complete list! If you know of others, please give a link in the comments.

Baltimore

From the Walters Art Museum:

Beirut

Near East School of Theology no. 869 (I think): at the WDL here (NB the ms and the metadata do not correspond)

Berlin

Chicago

University of Chicago, Goodspeed collection (see here)

(Lviv)

Gospels copied in Lviv, 1198/9 (Lemberg Gospels), images available here. Some basic info here.

Paris

  • BnF Arm. 65 (hymnbook) here
  • BnF Arm 291 (Ps.-Callisthenes, Hist. Alexander) here

Tübingen

Ma XIII 93 (Michael the Great, et varia) here

Washington, DC

LOC, Verin Noravank Gospels, 1487 at the WDL here

Georgian manuscripts from the BnF at Gallica   1 comment

Some time ago I posted a query on academia.edu about places to find freely accessible digitized Georgian manuscripts,* and someone — thanks to შოთა გუგუშვილი! — finally gave an answer with this link from Gallica:

http://gallica.bnf.fr/Search?p=1&lang=FR&adva=1&adv=1&t_typedoc=manuscrits&reset=true&p=1&f_language=geo

This link points to nine manuscripts, all cataloged and all with quality color images: one may view or download the books. There is a Gospel book, Chrysostom, a synaxarion, four hymnbooks, and a catechism. For full details, see the descriptions available on the site, but here’s a précis for each one:

Included with these eight manuscripts in the search results is also a handwritten catalog of these manuscripts in Georgian by Ekvtime Taqaishvili (1863-1953) from 1933. While these manuscripts do not have the antiquity of some other collections (Sinai and Athos, for example), with the exception of the catechism and the modern catalog, these are nevertheless some old codices.

It seems that the BnF is continuing to add new manuscripts, so we may have even more to look forward to in the same place as time goes by. Many thanks to them for making these manuscripts available for study!

*That is, in addition to the Sinai manuscripts available through E-Corpus.

An album of Georgian manuscripts   Leave a comment

At the website ქართული ხელნაწერი წიგნი (in Georgian) is available the book ქართული ხელნაწერი წიგნი V-XIX სს.: ელექტრონული ალბომი [The Georgian Manuscript Book, 5th-19th centuries: Electronic Album] (Tbilisi, 2010), edited by Nestan Chkhikvadze, with contributions by Maia Karanadze, Lela Shatirishvili, and Tamar Abuladze. (Click the picture in the left column at the link above to see the book.) The book is in Georgian, but there is a description in English in its front matter, as follows:

An on-line album of Georgian manuscript book was created within the Grant project “Georgian Manuscript Book (including website)” financed by Rustaveli research fund. N. Chkhikvadze (scientific research manager), M. Karanadze, L. Shatirishvili were working on this project with participation of T. Abuladze.
In the album there are represented 5th-19th cent. Georgian manuscript books preserved in the fonds of National Centre of Manuscripts (A, H, S, Q) as well as some items belonging to foreign funds and National Manuscript Centre has the legal right of using photo copies of them.
Artistic copy of Adishi gospel is accomplished on the bases of authors’ descriptions and instructions. All this manuscripts show the origin and the development of the book as a cultural-historical phenomenon.
Album consists of four chapters. Common informational texts and photos with annotation come with every collected material, as well as main bibliography.
This album will be helpful for readers who are interested in written culture.

There are introductory chapters on the history of writing Georgian (up to p. 12), on theological (სასულიერო) manuscripts (pp. 13-90), secular (საერო) manuscripts (pp. 91-134), writing materials (pp. 135-148), and covers and binding (ყდა, pp. 149-185). A bibliography, mostly of works written in Georgian, is on pp. 186-188. The book is full of relatively high-quality color photographs, and thus may have some interest for all students and scholars of manuscript and book history, whether they read Georgian or not. (NB in the captions, a Roman numeral followed by ს. indicates the century [საუკუნე] and an Arabic numeral followed by წ. indicates the exact year [წელი]. At the end of the captions is the shelfmark: A, H, S, or Q followed by a number.)

The photographs give very many examples of varieties of script, as well as manuscript decoration, including images of scribes at work. The book is hardly intended as something along the lines of the paleographic textbooks of Ivane Javakhishvili or Ilia Abuladze, but this shorter and more humble offering has great value for a variety of readers, not least thanks to its open access, but also for the number and quality of the images it includes. Many thanks to the authors and the National Centre of Manuscripts for making this work available!

“The manuscript itself”   1 comment

In his excellent article, “Georgian Palaeography”,[1] J. Neville Birdsall (1928-2005),[2] after listing some reproductions of Georgian manuscripts, has the following to say (p. 95):

The aspirant in Georgian palaeography must use these and every available photographic reproduction, but it cannot be too much emphasized that acquaintance with manuscripts themselves is irreplaceable. A manuscript, said patristic scholar and Armenologist, Robert Pierce Casey, is “something between a gadget and a personality”. This is as true of manuscripts as paleographical evidence as it is of any other aspect of their use and value. The external technicalities of the manuscript may be learnt from pictures: the individuality of the scribe, even in technical matters such as thickness of pen, can be known best only from the examination of the manuscript itself.

Birdsall’s survey dates from a time not too distant, at least in terms of the slow-moving world of manuscript studies, but even so, the quality and the quantity of easily available, if not freely available, manuscript images online would probably have been inconceivable at the time of its writing. In other words, Birdsall, while acknowledging the value of often bitonal manuscript reproductions — if for no other reason than that that is sometimes all that was (and is!) available — seems to imply that one should always wish for a real, tactile encounter with “the manuscript itself”. This kind of autopsy today probably happens no more frequently than when Birdsall made the statement above, but it is likely that a great many more students and scholars have nevertheless seen manuscripts, and not bitonal images, but color photographs of such resolution that one might enlarge only a few lines and fill an entire screen without any loss of image quality. There are doubtless some things we miss when look at a manuscript on a screen, rather than on a library table — a notable one being an easily grasped perception of a manuscript’s actual size, something we can forget, even if we know the exact measurements, when reading on a screen and manipulating the size — but at least with very high quality digital reproduction, what do we lack that especially matters codicologically or paleographically speaking? Birdsall as an example mentions the thickness of the scribe’s pen. Is that still something “known best” only from immediate manuscript autopsy, is it something we cannot properly give attention to in digital manuscript facsimiles as available nowadays? On this question, see the image below and note the easily noticeable varieties of thickness as the scribe has turned the pen in different directions to form the letters.

If someone had access only to manuscript reproductions, even if bitonal and perhaps grainy, Birdsall, based the tone of his essay, would, I believe, encourage that person to go ahead and make the most of what they have. Those of us at work on manuscripts in various languages, not only Georgian, have the boon of much better images than were common fare even a couple of decades ago, and were he writing today, I wonder if Birdsall would have phrased his sentiments in quite the way as above.

A few lines from CFMM 309, p. 55, at full resolution. Each page has two columns and the ms measures 26.5x18x9 cm.

A few lines from CFMM 309, p. 55, at full resolution. Each page has two columns and the ms measures 26.5x18x9 cm.

[1] A.C. Harris, ed. The Indigenous Languages of the Caucasus, vol. 1, The Kartvelian Languages. Delmar, New York: Caravan Books, 1991. Pp. 85-128. It remains really the only thing of its kind in English. Unfortunately, it was published in a rather out-of-the-way book, not to mention the less than appealing typography.

[2] There is an obituary for Birdsall by J.K. Elliott from The Independent here.

Cataloging grants   2 comments

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) announces grants available for cataloging work in its eastern Christian collections in Arabic/Garšūnī, Armenian, Old Church Slavonic, and Syriac. These grants are funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Many of these collections are greatly understudied and catalogers thus have prime opportunities for new and further research, as well as the satisfaction of making a contribution to our knowledge of the literature and of manuscript traditions. The grants support full-time cataloging work for periods of one to six months, and are renewable. The work may be done anywhere; residence at HMML is not expected. Catalogers will be expected to prepare text-level records for, ideally, 75 manuscripts per month (with these numbers adjusted for genres with multiple texts per manuscript, such as hagiography and homilies). A sample record may be viewed here. A brief report summarizing completed work (numbers, notable finds, etc.) will be sent twice a month to HMML’s lead cataloger of eastern Christian manuscripts, Adam McCollum. Completed records will be submitted on a monthly basis. The grants offer a stipend of $2500/month, with the added benefit of copies of two digitized manuscripts from HMML’s collections each month at no cost, which may be used for personal research. Those who wish to apply for a cataloging grant may send their CV and a cover letter to Adam McCollum (amccollum@csbsju.edu), to whom also any informal enquiries may be sent.

APIB 27, p. 19

APIB 27, p. 19

CFMM 420, p. 15

CFMM 420, p. 15

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