Posts tagged ‘project update’

July 13, 2012

Week #6, 2012

This week we managed to get through about 83 microfilms, representing 81 manuscripts. This came in greatest measure thanks to Vladimir, who’s been cutting through the Bibliothèque Nationale like a sharp knife through a soufflé.  The man is a phenomenon.

Saskia just finished Turin.  And, while Βλαδίμηρος was blazing his way through Lutetia, Σασκῶπον came upon a city already touched by an unholy fire («πῦρ οὐ καθαρτήριον ἀλλὰ κολαστήριον», Iter Psellianum no. 585) that in February of 1904 burnt all the Michael Psellus out of the manuscripts.[1]  This week she started working half-time, so she can give proper attention to her dissertation on John Moschus’s Spiritual Meadow. (Of meadows, fields, harvesting, reward and fellow-laborers, one thinks that indeed messis quidem multa, operarii autem pauci.)

And I (minimus [scribarum], qui non sum dignus vocari [scriba]) have been working on Bodley, which has a large bibliography and many subcollections. I finished the Barocciani & Laudiani and have begun the Auctarium. In the case of Laud gr. 81, all of which is attributed to Andrew of Crete, I think I see reason to doubt the ascription, or at least the originality. At the very least, and even though it was edited (centuries ago) by François Combefis, there’s still plenty of scope for some fun detective-work for stemmatophiles—that is, assuming it wasn’t done by one of those Wunderkinder at a Gymnasium during the time of Bismarck.

The ms. we have, in one or more beautiful hands, was apparently copied in the 17th century from an ancient manuscript at the Monastery of the Deipara on Chios (the start of a good movie already: «μετεγράφη ἀπὸ ἀρχαιοτάτου βιβλίου καταστίκτου τῇ ἀρχαότητι ἐκ μεμβρανῶν συντεθεγμένου καὶ τῇ ἀρχαίᾳ τῆς Θεομήτορος μονῇ ἐν τῇ Χίῳ συντηρουμένου»). There are lots of re-assuring self-corrections along the way, but for some of the works, a second (very heavy) hand has come and made changes to practically every other line. And it’s hardly just proofreading: in some cases he sees before him a version that now matches the TLG, and rejects it. So it seems that (barring some divine emendation-afflatus like the one poured out on those three score and ten translators of old) he’s got at least two Vorlagen in front of him.  Did they take their own “copy-text” with them to the monastery for “correction”? Or do they have a copy of the monastery’s version, with later changes? And is everything in the manuscript actually by the archbishop Andrew? (The TLG numbers below are to other writers.)  There are lots of blank pages (leading to duelling numeration), so when were the quires all brought together.  Hmmm…


Bodleianus Laudianus græcus 81.

99v-104v  Blank.

105r-109r (Coxe §14)  «†Τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἀνδρέου, ἀρχιεπισκόπου Κρήτης, τοῦ Ἱεροσολυμίτου· ἐγκώμιον εἰς τὸν ὅσιον πατέρα ἡμῶν καὶ θαυματουργὸν Νικόλαον, ἀρχιεπίσκοπον τῆς Μύρου τῆς Λυκίας.» Incipit «Ἄνθρωπε τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πιστὲ θεράπων [cf. TLG 2714.002, Epistle 300, and TLG 5077.002, §59] καὶ οἰκονόμε τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ μυστηρίων, καὶ ἂν ἐξ ἐπιθυμιῶν τῶν τοῦ πνεύματος, δέχου τὸν παρ’ ἡμῶν σοι προσαγόμενον λόγον ὡς δῶρον καὶ χάριν…»  Heavy corrections throughout.

109v-114v  Blank.

115r (Coxe §15)  «Τοῦ αὐτοῦ [after 13 blank pages] ἐγκώμιον εἰς τὸν εὐαγγελιστὴν Ἰωάννην.»  The first twelve lines are in a different hand from the rest:  «Ἰωάννης ὁ εὐαγγελιστὴς ἡμᾶς τήμερον συνήγαγεν ἐκεῖνον ἐγκωμιάσοντας. Ἔστι γὰρ ἀετὸς ὑψηπέτης διὰ τῆς ἀνωτάτης πτήσεως, πάντας τοὺς λοιποὺς ὄρνιθας πολλῷ τῷ μέσῳ ὑπερβαλόμενος τῆς ἐκ διττῶν πτερύγων θέας, δηλαδὴ καὶ πράξεως προελθούσης. Καὶ Πέτρος ὁ κορυφαῖος εὐφημιῶν οὐκ ὀλίγων ἠξιώθη, καὶ τὸν Χριστὸν υἱὸν τῷ πατρὶ ὁμοούσιον θεασάμενος καὶ τῷ πρὸς ἐκεῖνον πόθῳ κομιδῇ διαφέρων. Ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ ὁ ἠγαπημένος μαθητής, ὁ ἠγαπημένος διαφερόντως προσονομασθείς, οὗ τοῖς στέρνοις καὶ ὁ κύριος ἐνέπεσε, καὶ ᾧ τὴν μητέρα συνέστησεν, γῆ ἂν ἴσως μειονεκτοίη τοῦ Πέτρου κατὰ τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν ἀγάπησιν· εἴπερ φιλεῖ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας κατ’ ἀναλογίαν τοῦ ἐνυπάρχοντος ἐκείνοις ἔρωτος· ἐγκωμιάσωμεν ἄρα τὸν μέγαν θεολόγων – καὶ γὰρ ἀξιέπαινος τῶν ἁγίων ὁ ἔπαινος. [The above may be slightly compressed, and the last word goes over into the margin. With no space, a new hand picks up (or was there already?) with TLG 3092.004, §2, but without the ἁγίων that we expect as antecedent to the following pronouns:] Καὶ ἡ ἐπίκλησις αὐτῶν σωστικὴ, καὶ ἡ πρὸς αὐτοὺς ἔντευξις, ἀνυστικὴ τῶν αἰτήσεων· τὸ δ’ ὅτι καὶ τῆς ἀρετῆς διὰ τῶν αὐτῶν ἐγκωμίων πρόκλησις γίνεται [line struck through: “τῆς κακίας αἰσχυνουμένης καὶ ἀποσοβουμένης ἔκ γε τῶν μὴ πεπηρωμένων”] εἰς τέλεον· ἡ τῶν πραγμάτων φύσις παρίστησιν…»  In the margin, what appears to be the same hand as above replaces the struck-through line, which fits with the version in the TLG,  with simply «τῆς κακίας ἀποσοβουμένης».

120r  Desinit pagina (non opus), «…βυθίζεται μετὰ τῶν αὐτοῦ συναποστατῶν· ζωὴν δὲ ἡμῖν· καὶ θάνατον τοῖς διώκταις, ὁ σταυρὸς ἐνεργεῖ τοῦ Χριστοῦ· μωσαϊκῇ ῥάβδῳ καὶ θαλάσσης πληγαῖς προτυ[πούμενος]…»  Cf. TLG 3092.004 (Nicephorus Blemmydes, Laudatio Sancti Johannis Evangelistæ, §42).  And here endeth the microfilm: microtænia missa est; procedamus in pace.

[1] The papyrologist Alan Bowman once told me that worms seem to prefer verbs.

June 15, 2012

Ὁ Μεγαλέξαντρος Ζεῖ καὶ Βασιλεύει… στὰ Βάθη τῆς Ἀσίας

Week Two for Σασκῶπον καὶ Βλαδιμηρῶπον, Week One for Σοφοκλῆ. We’re into a fairly good rhythm and moving along at a good pace, though the collection never ceases to deliver surprises (and despite the many Easter eggs that Prof. Ševčenko left for us).

We got through about 85 films this week, including several milestones: Vladimir finished Milan, Saskia finished Naples, and I finished the Escorial, guided by two great cataloguers of yore, Señores Revilla & Andrés. (See samples from over 100 Escorial scribes here, and Vogel & Gardthausen’s awesome Verzeichniß of Greek copyists here).

Vladimir and Saskia have moved on to the Vatican, while I’m cleaning up some left-behinds from last year that nobody (including me) wanted to deal with. Most of today I spent with our films from the University of Manchester Library (formerly John Rylands Library), with two of their three most noteworthy Armenian manuscripts: Cod. Arm. 20 (a tetraevangelium from 1587: click here to see the Creation of Eve) and, even cooler, Cod. Arm. 3, a spectacularly illustrated copy of the Alexander Romance (Ψευδο-Καλλισθένης ἀρμενιστί, done by Zak’aria, Bishop of Gnunik, in 1544 at Constantinople: click here to see the Father of the Mermaids conversing with two Sirens). We see, among others, Sikander’s steed Bucephalus, his real father Nectanebo (as lecanomancer and as serpent), and Othello’s Blemmyæ.


(Not from Manchester.) More Blemmyæ here.
Cynocephali [saɪnoʊ’sεfəlaɪ] here and here.


       Wherein of antres vast and deserts idle,
       Rough quarries, rocks and hills whose heads touch heaven
       It was my hint to speak,—such was the process—
       And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
       The Anthropophagi and men whose heads
       Do grow beneath their shoulders.

More on Armenian miniatures here.

Currently working on some illuminated Gospels from the Holkham Hall library, whose collection was once enjoyed by characters in a Jane Austen novel but is now split up between (at least) Oxford and the British Library. The olim 3, 4, 34 and 345 of Hockham Hall’s Earls of Leicester Library are now at Bodley (but available on CD-ROM for only £100 + VAT, for those who act now).

Ready to enjoy the weekend, but also looking forward to getting back to the project on Monday. It’s really great to be back, with wonderful people in a wonderful setting doing wonderful work.

—Posted by Roderick, who speaks Greek, loves books, and is available for full-time work starting the end of August.

July 26, 2011

Our Dream Team

Every summer, Dumbarton Oaks enjoys the company and contributions of our many summer interns.  We have interns in nearly every department, including the Museum, the Gardens, and the Publications department.  Vlad, Saskia and Roderick are interns in the Library, and they’ve been hard at work on the projects described here on the blog.  Their responsibilities have been huge: handling, analyzing, describing, and re-housing hundreds of microfilm reproductions of (primarily-)Greek manuscripts.  They’ve also searched for references to the manuscripts in catalogs, learning that in some cases the 17th or 18th-century catalogs in the Rare Books Collection are more reliable than more recent census material.

Vlad adds one more microfilm to the “done” pile.

Roderick demonstrates cutting edge microfilm-reading technology.

Saskia puts the microfilm splicer through its paces.

These extraordinary Library interns are all graduate students with multiple languages and training in palaeography.  They have also brought good humor and flexibility to a complicated and developing project.  (They could not have anticipated all the iterations of the database they would have to learn…)  And, as anyone who has paged through this blog can see, they have a great eye for fascinating details that they come upon in the course of their project.  The “manuscript finds” they have shared have been a great way to share this project with people outside of the Library and beyond Dumbarton Oaks.

The codex is so over-rated.

They’re with us for a few more weeks—and we’re sure to see them frequently in the future—but this is just to say THANK YOU for all the hard, and very important, work.

June 27, 2011

Week 4: June 27-July 1

Technology gremlins showed up on Monday, June 27, but we managed to triumph over them, not once but twice. First had to recover the database in the morning (using File => Recover and creating a copy in the Shared drive and on Saskia’s desktop in case something happened again). Then all the interns lost access to the network, which meant no access to the database, shared drive, shared printer, or internet. Uh oh! But, after some desperate troubleshooting, we powered off and on again the NetGear box and restored access. Whew!

Attempted label printing again today. Going well, except we were losing less than 1/8 inch of text along the left-hand margin. Deb finally figured out a way to correct this and has recorded two ways around the problem in a post


June 22, 2011

Week 3: June 20-24

The interns started the week by adding more A-D strips, then continued work on the microfilm from Mt. Athos.

Progress slowed when the team discovered 12 microfilm of Mone Iveron 648. Oy! What a tangle!  It appears that the late Prof. Westerink had trouble acquiring images that were adequate for his needs as he prepared the critical edition of the letters of Patriarch Photios I; because of  missing pages, poor photography, foreign objects obscuring text, etc. , he ordered copies of the same manuscript again and again. With great patience, our team sorted out which of his microfilm had which components of the manuscript, which had which legible pages, and what the handwritten notes on each of the old microfilm boxes signified. The records they created about each microfilm will be welcome by anyone who would like to use the DO microfilm to study this specific manuscript. On Wednesday morning, the last of the Mone Iveron 648 microfilm were processed.

On Wednesday morning, the team met with Michael Sohn, a member of our Publications staff who developed the database. Michael revealed the latest and greatest version of the database. One small problem with its system for generating local call numbers, but Michael came up with a work-around. The team started work with a shared version of the final database on Thursday morning (just before lunch). By the end of the day Friday (1.5 days with the new database), the team had processed 15 records.

In the next weeks, Michael will work on mapping the data from the previous, simpler versions of the database to the new, more sophisticated one. A post about the final version of the database will be added to the blog shortly.

Other activities this week: The team added more A-D strips on Wednesday afternoon (we are picking up speed on cataloging so hard to stay ahead of ourselves!), and the team tackled more of the mystery film from Ševčenko’s collection. More success as we identified film from Uppsala, Strasburg, and other cities. Saskia pulled the short straw and worked on the biggest mystery of them all: a privately owned manuscript which she learned had once belonged to the Ashburnam collection in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence (perhaps we should rename her Sherlock!)

On Friday afternoon, library casual Sarah Mackowski helped us catch up on labels and stamping boxes, after Deb types out the labels for all microfilm processed in the old versions of the database. As Saskia is fond of saying, “for the crown of martyrdom” 🙂

Total number of microfilm processed from June 6 through the end of the day June 27 (basically, three work weeks minus first day of orientation but including time spent on meetings with Michael, time lost on database and network hiccups, etc.): 115 microfilm

June 22, 2011

Week 2: June 13-17

Okay so daily updates might have been a little too ambitious… But we can report that Roderick arrived safely and started work on Monday, June 13.  Part of his first day included an orientation to the library, administrative paperwork, and training whenever Deb was available (which wasn’t much). Fortunately, Vlad and Saskia stepped in to train him themselves. By Tuesday afternoon, Roderick was practicing with microfilm and the database. His first manuscript? A beautifully illuminated commentary on Job.  Some people have all the luck… 🙂

While the team tackled microfilm from Athens and the monasteries of Mt. Athos, Deb, Michael, and Kathy continued to revise the database. On Wednesday, the interns stopped entering data in the original version and started work in the revised 2nd version of the database, which still needed some minor modifications. On Friday, Michael revealed the almost final version of a very elegant database, and the now-experienced interns offered some simple suggestions that would improve their workflow.

The team learned so quickly that, by Friday morning, it had processed most of the microfilm which were prepared already with A-D strips. In order to give more A-D strips the appropriate time (roughly 1 week) with individual film, the team tried their hand at identifying a few of the “mystery” film from the Ševčenko estate. No easy task but they succeeded with every example they tried.  Go, team!

As a special treat, the team visited the Rare Book Reading Room to view our copy of Bernard de Montfaucon’s Palæographia græca, sive De ortu et progressu literatum græcarium, et de variis omnium sæculorum scriptionis græcæ generibus: itemque de abbreviationibus & de notis variarum artium ac disciplinarum (Paris, 1708). We were joined by summer fellows Ida Toth, Nadia Ali, and Ioanna Rapti.

Film processed from lunchtime June 14-lunchtime June 21: 53

June 8, 2011

Week 1: June 6-10

Because this is the first time Deb has run a project like this, she would like to keep records of weekly progress. Don’t expect pearls of wisdom here or astute observations, just brief notes about what was accomplished each day.

Monday, June 6:

9am-10:30am: Vlad and Saskia received their badges and toured offices, restrooms, microfilm cabinets in the Library; coffee/tea machine, lounge, refrigerator in the Refectory; location of Rare Book Room, Byz Studies office, HR office, payroll office, and conveyor room in Main House; and gates or doors operated by badge-readers.

10:30-12noon: orientation to the Library for new Fellows and interns, followed by a short period of time in which Sarah demonstrated the splicer and Vlad & Saskia had the opportunity to browse the relevant book collections on level 4.

1-2pm: Deb explained access to the Shared drive and showed documents in the Shared drive briefly; Sarah gave instructions for using the blog; Vlad and Saskia explored the blog and tested adding posts and comments.

2-5pm: Vlad and Saskia attended the general interns’ orientation organized by Janne; Michael improved the database; Deb and Sarah worked on training materials and presentations for the new Fellows and the project.

Tuesday, June 7:

9-10am: Sarah explained Zotero, and the team practiced adding items to the group library, etc.

10-12noon: Deb demonstrated using Richard and Pinakes, and the team discussed print catalogs briefly. Deb explained identification of microfilm bases and preservation issues. The whole team practiced reading A-D strips and using the splicer. Deb briefly went over information that would be covered in longer Fellows’ orientation that afternoon.

1-3:30pm: While Deb and Sarah participated in Fellows’ orientation to HOLLIS and online resources, Vlad and Saskia added to the Zotero group library, read online materials, practiced with the training microfilm and databases, and collected materials for the team office.

3:30-4:30pm: The team explored and practiced with most components of the FileMaker database (did not cover Bibliography, Online Resources components only).

ca 4:30-5pm: The team examined one of the training microfilm (BnF Coisl. 288) to practice reading the first few frames and identifying information relevant to the project. Fellow Ida Toth assisted.

Wednesday, June 8:

9-9:30am: introduction to the Tech Services departments and staff

10-10:30am: Vlad and Saskia attended ICFA Open House

other activities in the morning (before noon): Vlad and Saskia continued practicing with the databases, print catalogs, splicer, and scanners by investigating their training microfilm; Saskia found some of the print catalogs (Omont) through GoogleBooks and added links in Zotero; Sarah was out; Deb gave an orientation and assistance to a new Reader 9:45-11:15am.

1-5pm: Vlad and Saskia created complete records for the training microfilm. Vlad discovered

Thursday, June 9-Friday, June 10

Our team continued to work with microfilm which were selected for training purposes and created records in a training version of the database (the data will be migrated once the final database is in place). Saskia tracked down more information about the Metochion Panagiou Taphou’s manuscripts, some of which were transferred to the Ethnike Vivliotheke in Athens during the early twentieth century, while Vlad proved his good fortune and amazing talents by recognizing secret alphabets on one of his manuscripts (see his blog post:

Number of microfilm Vlad and Saskia processed during training June 7-14: an impressive 33!!!