Festival of Visualization

A University of Bologna textbook precisely datable to 1430 contains key texts in mathematics and astronomy in Italian and Latin. The Vatican Library has just upgraded its digitization of this treasure, Vat.lat.4825, to full color and high resolution, and you will see below how welcome this is.

This codex is a festival of visualization, including; mnemonic hands
mathematical squares
and rotae:
There are also scatological illuminations of the sort long favoured by discerning male student customers:

See Jordanus for a full listing of the content.
It is one of the stars of a release over the past week of 67 new digitizations. My unofficial list:
  1. Ross.126.pt.2,
  2. Ross.129,
  3. Ross.141,
  4. Ross.143,
  5. Ross.144 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Ross.147 (Upgraded to HQ),
  7. Ross.154,
  8. Ross.161,
  9. Ross.162,
  10. Ross.174,
  11. Ross.175 (Upgraded to HQ),
  12. Ross.176,
  13. Vat.lat.2418 (Upgraded to HQ), no fewer than 155 works by leading Arab and western medical scientist in this compilation dating from the 14th century. See summary in Jordanus 
  14. Vat.lat.2525,
  15. Vat.lat.2526,
  16. Vat.lat.2529,
  17. Vat.lat.2536,
  18. Vat.lat.2545,
  19. Vat.lat.2554,
  20. Vat.lat.4654.pt.2,
  21. Vat.lat.4685,
  22. Vat.lat.4718,
  23. Vat.lat.4749 (Upgraded to HQ),
  24. Vat.lat.4765,
  25. Vat.lat.4808,
  26. Vat.lat.4809,
  27. Vat.lat.4823 (Upgraded to HQ),
  28. Vat.lat.4825 (Upgraded to HQ), mainly mathematical and astronomical texts in Italian and Latin (above). 
  29. Vat.lat.4827, yet another mathematical codex, this one dating from 1470. See Jordanus. Among the curiosities here are contemporary exchange rates between Sicilian, Neapolitan and Venetian currency.
  30. Vat.lat.4831 (Upgraded to HQ),
  31. Vat.lat.4833,
  32. Vat.lat.4876,
  33. Vat.lat.4877,
  34. Vat.lat.4882,
  35. Vat.lat.4883,
  36. Vat.lat.4889 (Upgraded to HQ),
  37. Vat.lat.4900,
  38. Vat.lat.4904,
  39. Vat.lat.4905,
  40. Vat.lat.4924, This codex contains more binding strips from an old book written in Beneventan hand a torn apart to hold this new volume together. 
  41. Vat.lat.4925 (Upgraded to HQ), with reinforcing strips from the same Beneventan codex as was used to bind 4924 and 4923, of which am sample image was shown in a previous blog post.  
  42. Vat.lat.4928, Breviarium Benedictinum, dated to about 1100, in a Beneventan hand. This is Beuron number 343 on account of its Vetus Latina texts of the Psalter Romanum and other biblical chants
  43. Vat.lat.4931,
  44. Vat.lat.4937,
  45. Vat.lat.4961 (Upgraded to HQ),
  46. Vat.lat.4967,
  47. Vat.lat.4969,
  48. Vat.lat.4971,
  49. Vat.lat.4974,
  50. Vat.lat.4975,
  51. Vat.lat.4976 (Upgraded to HQ),
  52. Vat.lat.4977,
  53. Vat.lat.4980,
  54. Vat.lat.4981, a 13th-century codex in Beneventan hand, termed a Collectio Canonum by Lowe.
  55. Vat.lat.4982 (Upgraded to HQ),
  56. Vat.lat.4990 (Upgraded to HQ),
  57. Vat.lat.5001 (Upgraded to HQ),
  58. Vat.lat.5006, mathematical and astronomical texts in a compilation of the 15th century, of which Jordanus lists 14 titles.
  59. Vat.lat.5018.pt.2,
  60. Vat.lat.5033,
  61. Vat.lat.5047,
  62. Vat.lat.5051 (Upgraded to HQ),
  63. Vat.lat.5055,
  64. Vat.lat.5058,
  65. Vat.lat.5059 (Upgraded to HQ),
  66. Vat.lat.5086,
  67. Vat.lat.15345,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 212. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Ascension Week

Ascension Week seems to have slowed the output of the Vatican Library's digitization programm. My unofficial list contains only 16 items for the past seven days:
  1. Ross.128, an Old Testament, with upper headings mostly guillotined off in rebinding: notable initials
  2. S.Maria.Magg.26 (reloaded, but still only in black and white), liturgical music
  3. Vat.lat.2532, Andrae's commentary of Decretals
  4. Vat.lat.2550, decretals text with space left for commentary still entirely empty
  5. Vat.lat.4761, Renaissance, book of hours?
  6. Vat.lat.4810,
  7. Vat.lat.4834 (Upgraded to HQ), contains text of Tommasuccio da Foligno
  8. Vat.lat.4906, catalog of letters of Pope Gregory VII
  9. Vat.lat.4910, Alfonso Ceccarelli 1532-83
  10. Vat.lat.4911, ditto
  11. Vat.lat.4943,
  12. Vat.lat.4944, legal
  13. Vat.lat.4968, historical writing by Giovanni Pietro Ferretti 1482- 1557
  14. Vat.lat.5000, seventeenth century manuscript of Chronicum Salernitanum, lists of Lombard kings, etc.
  15. Vat.lat.5018.pt.1, work of Cristobal de Cabrera 1513-1598 
  16. Vat.lat.5053, works of Salvianus Massiliensis c.400-c.470
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 211. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Bitumen Boat

Two boats with sails and oars are depicted in the Madaba Mosaic Map, a miraculously preserved sixth-century giant floor map of Palestine. One has a cargo of white stuff, the other of a vibrantly coloured substance being shipped over the Dead Sea. The tesserae depicting the boatmen have been smashed and replaced with a random red-and-yellow mix of mosaic pieces:

The boat at left carries salt, which is there for the digging on the Dead Sea coast. Recently I asked an archaeologist friend what he thought was aboard the boat at right and he promptly said: bitumen. This surprised me, but he explained that the Dead Sea used to be covered in floating globs of asphalt. It would have glistened, so perhaps that is why the mosaic shows it rainbow-fashion.

I have since learned that under the Romans, the asphalt or bitumen was so ample that it was harvested from the beaches or fished out of the water and exported. Hot work, but it was much in demand by the glue trade around the Mediterranean (and had earlier been used, it is said, for mummification in Egypt).

One of the most notable manuscripts to be digitized in the past week by the Vatican Library is the Cartulary of the Chapter of the Holy SepulchreVat.lat.4947, a set of records of land endowments and dealings by Christian priests in Crusader Jerusalem in the period 1162-1165. From a review by Olivier Guyotjeannin, I learn that the Cartulary contains a record dealing with salt and bitumen harvesting at the time of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

I wonder how long the bitumen trade continued overall. Evidently for a good two thousand years! An account by George Frederick Wright in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915) quotes Josephus saying lumps of asphalt as big as an ox were common in his day. But by the 19th century, big asphalt seepages from the lake bottom were rare, coinciding with earthquakes, though lake dwellers still knew to harvest and sell the releases. Today the last remains are only pebble-sized.

In all, the library released 39 digitizations in the past week. My list:
  1. Barb.lat.813,
  2. Barb.lat.4400,
  3. Ott.lat.577,
  4. Ross.49,
  5. Ross.125.pt.1 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Ross.126.pt.1,
  7. Ross.157,
  8. Ross.286,
  9. Urb.lat.1301,
  10. Vat.lat.2538,
  11. Vat.lat.2541,
  12. Vat.lat.4720,
  13. Vat.lat.4756 (Upgraded to HQ),
  14. Vat.lat.4818 (Upgraded to HQ),
  15. Vat.lat.4821 (Upgraded to HQ),
  16. Vat.lat.4822,
  17. Vat.lat.4824 (Upgraded to HQ),
  18. Vat.lat.4826, a mathematics manuscript datable to 1450, by Iacobus de Florentia. See Jordanus
  19. Vat.lat.4829, mathematics anthology in Italian, dated 1480, see Jordanus. The word algorithm was established in the West by this time:
    Also tons of squiggly sums:
  20. Vat.lat.4832,
  21. Vat.lat.4856,
  22. Vat.lat.4884,
  23. Vat.lat.4885,
  24. Vat.lat.4892 (Upgraded to HQ),
  25. Vat.lat.4893 (Upgraded to HQ), a decretum
  26. Vat.lat.4907,
  27. Vat.lat.4919 (Upgraded to HQ),
  28. Vat.lat.4923, here, the small strips used for strengthening the binding formed part of the same manuscript of Gregory as is found in Vat.lat.4918 (Lowe):
  29. Vat.lat.4926,
  30. Vat.lat.4927,
  31. Vat.lat.4930,
  32. Vat.lat.4935,
  33. Vat.lat.4941 (Upgraded to HQ),
  34. Vat.lat.4947 (Upgraded to HQ), the Cartulary of the Chapter of the Holy Sepulchre (above, also discussed in a blog post two years ago).
  35. Vat.lat.4956.pt.1,
  36. Vat.lat.4956.pt.2,
  37. Vat.lat.4957 (Upgraded to HQ),
  38. Vat.lat.4959 (Upgraded to HQ),
  39. Vat.pers.31,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 210. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.

Nissenbaum, Arie (1978). 'Dead Sea Asphalts — Historical Aspects', Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, 62, 837–44. Online


Crusader Elite

A post two years ago highlighted records in the Vatican Library illuminating the doomed attempt to establish a Christian kingdom in Palestine after the Crusades, the finale of a conflict many Muslims angrily remember to this day.

One of those manuscripts is a book of genealogies containing the Lignages d'Outremer, a French-language compilation describing the leading settler families and their descents. This week that work, at folios 276-296 of Vat.lat.4789, has been re-released in high resolution and full color after only a microfilm in black and white had been available.
Arlima informs us this is the second recension of the Lignages. For a quick introduction to its scope, see Wikipedia.
In all, 39 manuscripts arrived online over the past week. My list:
  1. Reg.lat.960.pt.A,
  2. Reg.lat.2121,
  3. Ross.50 (Upgraded to HQ),
  4. Ross.107 (Upgraded to HQ), book of hours, see tweet below
  5. Ross.116,
  6. Ross.117,
  7. Ross.131,
  8. Ross.142,
  9. Ross.266,
  10. Sbath.243,
  11. Urb.lat.1622,
  12. Vat.estr.or.127,
  13. Vat.estr.or.41.pt.A,
  14. Vat.lat.2514,
  15. Vat.lat.2516, in which Dominique Gatté discovers a depiction of Fauvel, a fictitious horse which rises to prominence in the French royal court, and is here depicted in a royal crown:
    Merci @JBPiggin pour la nouvelle liste !https://t.co/CGMBOijGdD
  16. Vat.lat.2519,
  17. Vat.lat.2521,
  18. Vat.lat.2530,
  19. Vat.lat.2531,
  20. Vat.lat.3493,
  21. Vat.lat.4688,
  22. Vat.lat.4698,
  23. Vat.lat.4700,
  24. Vat.lat.4705,
  25. Vat.lat.4760.pt.2,
  26. Vat.lat.4789 (Upgraded to HQ), Lignages d'Outremer (above)
  27. Vat.lat.4811,
  28. Vat.lat.4828, a compilation of merchant arithmetic from 1453 in Italian and Latin. See Jordanus
  29. Vat.lat.4844,
  30. Vat.lat.4855,
  31. Vat.lat.4864, works by Albertus Magnus on alchemy and other scientific topics, see eTK
  32. Vat.lat.4873,
  33. Vat.lat.4888,
  34. Vat.lat.4898,
  35. Vat.lat.13489.pt.1,
  36. Vat.lat.13489.pt.2,
  37. Vat.lat.14402.pt.A,
  38. Vat.lat.15344,
  39. Vat.turc.373,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 209. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


Rosy-cheeked bishop

One of the Vatican's finest manuscripts of the Decretrum Gratiani, a great collection of laws, has just been digitized. The high resolution lets you zoom in close to figures like this rosy-cheeked bishop:
Here's a king from the copious initials, and I wondered if the gold-blue-red tiles were a throne, and got a reply from @GlossaeIuris:
This 14th century codex from Toulouse is made up of 404 folios and contains the commentary of Bartholomew of Brixen in the margins. Mirabile has details on its former owners.

My full list of new digitizations:
  1. Chig.A.VIII.231 (Upgraded to HQ),
  2. Ross.130,
  3. Urb.lat.581,
  4. Urb.lat.1029.pt.2,
  5. Vat.estr.or.124,
  6. Vat.lat.2493, Decretum Gratiani (above)
  7. Vat.lat.2523,
  8. Vat.lat.3557,
  9. Vat.lat.4638,
  10. Vat.lat.4719,
  11. Vat.lat.4721,
  12. Vat.lat.4748.pt.2,
  13. Vat.lat.4786 (Upgraded to HQ), Petrarch's Trionfi?
  14. Vat.lat.4797 (Upgraded to HQ),
  15. Vat.lat.4802,
  16. Vat.lat.4812,
  17. Vat.lat.4814,
  18. Vat.lat.4835 (Upgraded to HQ),
  19. Vat.lat.4836,
  20. Vat.lat.4840 (Upgraded to HQ),
  21. Vat.lat.4845,
  22. Vat.lat.4852 (Upgraded to HQ),
  23. Vat.lat.4853,
  24. Vat.lat.4854,
  25. Vat.lat.4858 (Upgraded to HQ),
  26. Vat.lat.4862,
  27. Vat.lat.4865,
  28. Vat.lat.4867, about magic, witchcraft and demons, among other subjects. See the entry on this codex in the eTK; from the catalog, indications of Seneca here too
  29. Vat.lat.4869,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 208. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.



The fortunes of  some manuscripts take them to the very brink of destruction, as we see with a Neapolitan part-bible, Vat.lat.8183, digitized in the past week by the Vatican Library.

The miniaturist is believed to have been Matteo Planisio. This codex containing Prophets and Psalms once contained gorgeous colourful 14th-century miniatures, but many were snipped out by a "collector". Check it out, because the vandal did not get them all.

This week 26 manuscripts were scanned and put online for all the world to enjoy. My list:
  1. Ross.118 (Upgraded to HQ), an exquisite book of hours in mint condition 
  2. Ross.301,
  3. Vat.gr.2650, from Byzantine southern Italy, a copy of a seventh-century legal deed
  4. Vat.lat.2399,
  5. Vat.lat.2400,
  6. Vat.lat.2482 (Upgraded to HQ), Avicenna, Eugubinus de Montecatino, Albertus Magnus and Petrus de Abano in a 300-folio, mainly medical anthology from the 15th century: see eTK. There's a librarian's handy table of contents at the front.
  7. Vat.lat.2503,
  8. Vat.lat.2505,
  9. Vat.lat.2513,
  10. Vat.lat.3500 (Upgraded to HQ),
  11. Vat.lat.4710,
  12. Vat.lat.4711 (Upgraded to HQ), with an Aristotle commentary
  13. Vat.lat.4760.pt.1,
  14. Vat.lat.4764,
  15. Vat.lat.4791 (Upgraded to HQ),
  16. Vat.lat.4792,
  17. Vat.lat.4813,
  18. Vat.lat.4816,
  19. Vat.lat.4837,
  20. Vat.lat.4841,
  21. Vat.lat.4842,
  22. Vat.lat.4846 (Upgraded to HQ),
  23. Vat.lat.4848,
  24. Vat.lat.4860,
  25. Vat.lat.4871 (Upgraded to HQ), philosophical, with a text by Franciscus de Marchia on univocal concepts
  26. Vat.lat.8183, Italian part bible which begins with Isaiah (above)
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 207. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.


At Full Tilt

Among the well-loved old books digitized in the past week by the Vatican Library is a missale plenum of the late 10th or early 11th century from somewhere in central Italy.

Vat.lat.4770 provided a bishop, or abbot or senior priest with liturgical rites for most occasions including for dedication of a church. Although it has a loose appearance, it is well planned in layout, with space set aside for initials and the text spaced where required for the necessary musical notation:
It has one particular curiosity: a sudden change in script from the ordinary Carolingian minuscule of the period to Beneventan in a passage over the turn at fols. 216r-216v. Presumably the scribe knew both, and was deft enough to swap script and revert while working at full tilt.

Dominique Gatté has written a detailed post about the manuscript.

Here is the full unofficial list of 42 new releases:
  1. Ross.88,
  2. Ross.312,
  3. Ross.404,
  4. Ross.406,
  5. Ross.408,
  6. Ross.409,
  7. Ross.412,
  8. Ross.414,
  9. Ross.415,
  10. Ross.416,
  11. Ross.417,
  12. Ross.419,
  13. Ross.420,
  14. Urb.lat.749,
  15. Urb.lat.838,
  16. Urb.lat.1114.pt.3,
  17. Urb.lat.1352,
  18. Urb.lat.1453,
  19. Urb.lat.1499,
  20. Urb.lat.1620,
  21. Urb.lat.1657,
  22. Vat.lat.2506,
  23. Vat.lat.2512,
  24. Vat.lat.3464,
  25. Vat.lat.3506,
  26. Vat.lat.3508,
  27. Vat.lat.4672,
  28. Vat.lat.4702 (Upgraded to HQ), 16th-century commentary on Aristotle?
  29. Vat.lat.4745,
  30. Vat.lat.4748.pt.1,
  31. Vat.lat.4750 (Upgraded to HQ), church music, high medieval
  32. Vat.lat.4770, missale plenum (see above)
  33. Vat.lat.4774,
  34. Vat.lat.4783,
  35. Vat.lat.4785,
  36. Vat.lat.4793,
  37. Vat.lat.4799,
  38. Vat.lat.4801 (Upgraded to HQ), Spanish
  39. Vat.lat.4804,
  40. Vat.lat.4805,
  41. Vat.lat.4815,
  42. Vat.lat.7597, pontificale
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 206. Thanks to @gundormr for harvesting. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.