Manuscripts in the “New Golden Age”

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Archimedes PalimpsestDr. Roger Easton, of Rochester Institute of Technology, spoke to an audience of over 50 people on Wednesday, 20 February, regarding advancements in digital imaging technology and its impact on the future of manuscript studies. Presented by the McGill Medievalists, the talk covered Dr. Easton’s past work on the Archimedes Palimpsest, in addition to his current work on palimpsests held by St. Catherine’s Monastery and other projects. Dr. Easton specializes in the application of digital imaging technology to reveal over-written or damaged texts; using combinations of infra-red and ultraviolet light bands, he and his team are able to render the previously unreadable, readable.

During his presentation, Dr. Easton described the technology used for digital imaging and outlined the general process, from the initial camera capture to the processing and rending of data. He called for the increased co-operation between technological experts and scholars to facilitate further work in the field, one which he sees as rapidly expanding in new directions as a result of digital imaging. Dr. Easton also noted the need for more open access to digitally rendered manuscripts, an area which currently remains tightly controlled, despite the commitment of many academic libraries to maintaining open access repositories.  The evening closed with Dr. Easton’s images of David Livingstone’s African diaries, written by the explorer in berry-juice on newsprint when he ran out of ink and paper during his time in the jungle. Images of the Archimedes Palimpsest, as well as its recent history and a description of the project may be accessed at http://www.archimedespalimpsest.org/