About This Resource

My name is Sindhu Krishnamurthy, and I am a senior at the Winsor School in Boston, Massachusetts. At my school, seniors are given four weeks off at the end of the year to focus on an Independent Learning Experience (ILE), a project we complete under the supervision of a mentor. I have learned Latin for several years and always been fascinated by old books; I was very excited, therefore, by the opportunity to work under Lisa Fagin Davis, Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America, who kindly agreed to mentor me in a manuscript studies project.

In preparation for my ILE, I completed readings from Introduction to Manuscript Studies by Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham on writing supports, text and decoration, and the assembling, binding, and storing of manuscripts. I continued developing my knowledge in manuscript studies by meeting with my mentor, working through online lessons focused on various book hands, and researching fragmentology.

Fragmentology is the study of remaining fragments from medieval and renaissance manuscripts. In the early 1900s, book dealers began selling manuscripts page by page to gain a larger profit (or, perhaps, to meet an increase in demand). This phenomenon resulted in manuscript leaves being scattered across various libraries, universities, and private collections. During the 1930s and 1940s, in fact, art history professor and infamous “biblioclast” Otto Frederick Ege acquired a multitude of manuscripts and sold their leaves individually, in groups, and in portfolios. “Few, indeed, can hope to own a complete manuscript book; hundreds, however, may own a leaf,” he reasoned in a 1938 article from journal Avocations. For my project, I chose to focus on one such ‘victim’ of Ege’s: the Aurora by Peter Riga, a versified Latin bible that appears to have been made in England ca. 1200.

The Aurora became Number 7 in the portfolio Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts. Physically, its leaves are currently scattered across North America. This resource, however, is a digital reconstruction of those leaves that have been located, so you can examine them almost as though they were a whole. Using Paul E. Beichner’s edition of the Aurora, Aurora: Petri Rigae Biblia Versificata: a Verse Commentary on the Bible, I used the foliation on the leaves to calculate and locate the corresponding line numbers in the book. Thus, I was able to provide an accurate description of each leaf and place them in order. Under the Exhibits section, images of the leaves can be found in correct order; records of each leaf, including its corresponding Beichner line numbers, the collection it belongs to, and its format are also provided.

This project has been a wonderful experience, and I have loved exploring the world of medieval manuscripts. Thank you to my mentor Lisa, without whom none of this would have been possible—check out her blog https://manuscriptroadtrip.wordpress.com if you haven’t already!

Further Information:

Otto Ege- http://ege.denison.edu

Fragmentology- https://manuscriptroadtrip.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/manuscript-road-trip-the-promise-of-digital-fragmentology/

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