Upgrade at the Vatican

As the Vatican's online library, Digita Vaticana, undergoes a major server migration and interface upgrade this week, you'll have to be patient about viewing the 34 new treasures that arrived online May 16. The interface is a major step forward, with easier paging through the books, quicker zooming buttons, and adoption of the IIIF standards used by other major archival digitization portals.

There's also a new logo, DigiVatLib. It's not clear yet if this replaces the Digita Vaticana branding. There's a promise of enhanced search functions for the next release and there will be a section to highlight the latest 20 manuscripts uploaded, but that does not seem to have been implemented yet.

Some manuscripts remain accessible, but for others you encounter a "sorry" screen that says: "The migration process of digitized manuscripts in the new platform is still ongoing and it will be completed in the next two weeks." I feel like a motorist at roadworks, knowing full well that I will appreciate the improvements later, but impatient to get through now.

Today is also a special occasion for this blog: this is the 50th edition of Piggin's Unofficial Lists of the digitizations in Rome. It was a great surprise to me when Dr Otto Vervaart marked this by writing a very comprehensive review on his own blog, Rechtsgeschiedenis, describing what this blog attempts to achieve. I say to him: Thank you very much: that encourages me to keep going forward.

The highlight of this week's new arrivals is Vat.lat.623, a fascinating 13th- or 14th-century revision of the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville (-636). The great Spanish scholar Carmen Codoñer observes that because of its encyclopaedic character, the Etymologies were continually open to supplement in later centuries, and this is one of the best examples of how it evolved.

We see in this codex  all sorts of clever medieval diagrams to better elucidate what ancient Isidore had been talking about.

On fol. 80r is an astonishing schematic of an arbor consanguinatis - a legal diagram explaining degrees of blood relationship - which revises it to just a few abstract sketch lines. There's a matching one in Vienna, ÖNB 683, but unfortunately not yet digitized.

Hermann Schadt believed this unique diagram (he called it a "lambda schema") must have been influenced by music theory, since a similar diagram is found in contemporary books about harmony and the Anima Mundi of Plato. The medieval academy was very interdisciplinary.

The preceding page has another reinterpretation of the arbor that you will not find in my manual of classical arbores, because it was a newfangled invention: it shows the family circle.

A Carmen Codoñer article that is online in French is devoted to another part of this codex where the editors added new medical material after Isidore's Book X, from fol. 39rb (de causa et exordio…) to 42ra (… et sanus efficitur). She establishes that this contains parts of Asaf’s Book of Medicines, a Hebrew encyclopedia of Greek and Jewish medicine, which is an interesting indication of how the medieval academy welcomed Jewish learning.

This week's 34 uploads take the posted total to 4,396, which is a larger number than the 2,614 posted on the new, upgraded front page (formerly the fund-raising site). It's not yet clear if these two sites are now being integrated: they have remained apart until now. With the interrupted access, it will take me more time to add images and descriptions to the list below, so come back in a week for more details.
  1. Vat.ebr.11,
  2. Vat.ebr.14,
  3. Vat.ebr.107,
  4. Vat.ebr.124,
  5. Vat.ebr.128,
  6. Vat.ebr.129,
  7. Vat.ebr.131,
  8. Vat.ebr.132,
  9. Vat.ebr.136,
  10. Vat.ebr.137,
  11. Vat.ebr.146,
  12. Vat.ebr.150,
  13. Vat.ebr.304,
  14. Vat.lat.36, Manfred Bible, sometimes thought to be 13th century, no later than 14th, see the article on these by Helene Toubert. Here is King Manfred of Sicily (fol. 522v) receiving his book:
  15. Vat.lat.171,
  16. Vat.lat.380,
  17. Vat.lat.453,
  18. Vat.lat.516,
  19. Vat.lat.546,
  20. Vat.lat.552,
  21. Vat.lat.558,
  22. Vat.lat.566, Boethius. I was hoping to find an arbor porphyriana in here, but see none, though there is an interesting branching drawing on fol 72v
  23. Vat.lat.571,
  24. Vat.lat.572,
  25. Vat.lat.588,
  26. Vat.lat.596,
  27. Vat.lat.606,
  28. Vat.lat.617,
  29. Vat.lat.623, magnificent 13th or 14th century Etymologies of Isidore (see above)
  30. Vat.lat.630.pt.2, Isidorus Mercator Decretalium collectio, a 10th-century legal manuscript with some final rubrics like this at folio 321r:
  31. Vat.lat.631.pt.2,
  32. Vat.lat.639,
  33. Vat.lat.664,
  34. Vat.lat.712,
There are also nine novelties, mainly legal manuscripts, at Bibliotheca Palatina, the German portal which separately digitizes the Pal.lat. series in Rome. These were once used by the law scholars at the ducal-cum-university library in Heidelberg:
  1. Pal. lat. 719 Sammelhandschrift (15. Jh.)
  2. Pal. lat. 747 Digestum novum (14. Jh.)
  3. Pal. lat. 738 Digestum vetus (14. Jh.)
  4. Pal. lat. 748 Digestum novum (13.-14. Jh.)
  5. Pal. lat. 740 Digestum vetus (13.-14. Jh.)
  6. Pal. lat. 737 Digestum vetus (13. Jh.)
  7. Pal. lat. 755 Digestum novum (13. Jh.)
  8. Pal. lat. 756 Digestum novum (14. Jh.)
  9. Pal. lat. 1830 Psalmos (Wittenberg, um 1547-1548)
If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to Digita Vaticana.

1 comment :

  1. Congratulations on reaching the fiftieth post in the series on DigiVatLib!

    Yours sincerely,

    Otto Vervaart