2018-07-16

Diocletian and the Goats

Was the Emperor Diocletian of Rome a former Egyptian goat-herd? That is apparently what many Copts believed. This claim features in a Coptic manuscript just digitized at the Vatican Library, Vat.copt.65, which relates the life of Saint Theodore of Shwtp (or Saint Theodore the General), who was burned alive between 305 and 310 CE in Pontus in modern-day Turkey.

The contents of the 14th-century manuscript are discussed in detail by Dioscorus Boles on his blog. Among the interesting aspects are the story's allegation of Roman racism towards Egyptians and the practice of press-ganging Egyptians for Roman military service. Shwtp, in case you are asking, is town in Egypt.

Last week 26 manuscripts were released online. Here is my full list:
  1. Barb.lat.3996,
  2. Reg.lat.1350,
  3. Vat.ar.52 (Upgraded to HQ),
  4. Vat.copt.65 (Upgraded to HQ),
  5. Vat.copt.66 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Vat.copt.67 (Upgraded to HQ),
  7. Vat.gr.1702 (Upgraded to HQ),
  8. Vat.lat.2286, Bartolus de Saxoferrato 1314-1357 wrote this legal commentary: Lectura in primam partem Digesti Infortiati and Lectura super secunda parte Digesti novi. This is a 15th century copy.
  9. Vat.lat.2311,
  10. Vat.lat.3299,
  11. Vat.lat.3404,
  12. Vat.lat.3424, Ermolao Barbaro or Hermolaus Barbarus (1454-1493): letters to Jacopo Antiquario, seemingly attacking a book, Cornucopia, by his fellow humanist Nicolo Perotti. See eTK.
  13. Vat.lat.3433,
  14. Vat.lat.3440,
  15. Vat.lat.3442,
  16. Vat.lat.3457.pt.2,
  17. Vat.lat.3465, a panegyric of Thomas Aquinas. This Renaissance codex and others in the range were originally possessions of Antonio Carafa (1538-91), Vatican librarian.
  18. Vat.lat.3477,
  19. Vat.lat.3485,
  20. Vat.lat.3488,
  21. Vat.lat.3491,
  22. Vat.lat.3497,
  23. Vat.lat.3504,
  24. Vat.lat.3509.pt.1,
  25. Vat.lat.3536,
  26. Vat.lat.8866,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 169. 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.

2018-07-08

Precious Scraps

Western manuscripts from the fifth century are so rare that even two torn fragments from a book are objects of excitement. In the past few days, the Vatican Library has digitized and placed online its fragments of the Historiae of Sallust, Reg.lat.1283.pt.B, where the text is written in rustic capitals on both sides of the parchment:

They are thought to be from a codex scribed in Italy. It was torn up to be used as bookbinding material in about 700 CE at a great early medieval center of learning, Fleury Abbey in France. The new codex, itself a great treasure, was acquired centuries later by the wealthy and erudite collector Queen Christina of Sweden and ended up at the Vatican.

Elisabeth Pellegrin says parchment from the same Sallust text was found in Orleans ms 192 and Berlin lat. Q 364. This is the only text of the Historiae from before 1000 CE to survive, according to Richard Matthew Pollard and indeed the work is only known incompletely.

The two fragments, framed on sheets of conservation parchment, are among 42 items released in the past week. The full list:
  1. Ott.lat.1475,
  2. Reg.lat.1283.pt.B, (above). Part A is already online
  3. Urb.lat.1304,
  4. Urb.lat.1641,
  5. Vat.copt.64 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Vat.et.75,
  7. Vat.gr.216 (Upgraded to HQ),
  8. Vat.gr.245 (Upgraded to HQ),
  9. Vat.gr.711 (Upgraded to HQ),
  10. Vat.gr.807 (Upgraded to HQ),
  11. Vat.gr.1027,
  12. Vat.gr.1040 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.gr.2283,
  14. Vat.gr.2599,
  15. Vat.ind.38, Christian prayers in Tamil, written on palm leaves in southern India in the 16th or 17th century.
    Anthony Grafton writes:
    While inspecting the famous Palatine Library of Heidelberg, confiscated as spoil of war by Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, and presented to Pope Gregory XV in 1623, the papal librarian Allacci wrote Cardinal Ludovisi that amongst the notable objects was "a mass of palm leaves" ("uno mazzo di palme") whose language and content he did not know. It was a small collection of Christian prayers in Tamil entitled "Tamil mantiram" (Tamil prayers), which could be either the work of missionaries of the Counter-Reformation or an older composition from the ancient Christian communities in South India. The accompanying note, of unknown date, labels it as "carmina in lingua japanica" (songs in the Japanese language), which shows the difficulty of identifying works in "exotic" scripts before the additional growth of Oriental studies in the nineteenth century.
  16. Vat.lat.369,
  17. Vat.lat.3272,
  18. Vat.lat.3312,
  19. Vat.lat.3347,
  20. Vat.lat.3378 (Upgraded to HQ),
  21. Vat.lat.3384 (Upgraded to HQ),
  22. Vat.lat.3397,
  23. Vat.lat.3399,
  24. Vat.lat.3400,
  25. Vat.lat.3408,
  26. Vat.lat.3413,
  27. Vat.lat.3414,
  28. Vat.lat.3417 (Upgraded to HQ),
  29. Vat.lat.3425,
  30. Vat.lat.3427,
  31. Vat.lat.3434,
  32. Vat.lat.3445,
  33. Vat.lat.3447.pt.1,
  34. Vat.lat.3447.pt.2,
  35. Vat.lat.3448,
  36. Vat.lat.3450,
  37. Vat.lat.3452,
  38. Vat.lat.3469,
  39. Vat.lat.3486,
  40. Vat.lat.3511,
  41. Vat.lat.3555,
  42. Vat.lat.11218, letters of Pope Gregory XV (1612)
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 168. 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.

2018-07-02

Leto Lecture

You settle into your seat and await the arrival of the lecturer, Pomponius Leto, perhaps the most famous university professor in 15th century Rome. His classics lecture today is about Varro, replete with mentions of ruined things you often see on your walks in the city.

You have been tasked with writing up the lecture for the rest of the class. Your blotted jottings will be transferred to a clean notebook after each class in the series.

How surprised you would be to hear that the notes, after you have polished them up, will be flown to the United States (where?) in the 1990s for the great Rome Reborn exhibition and will be re-digitized in color and high quality by the Vatican Library in 2018 so that even people in New Zealand (where?) will be able to see every shiver of your quill.


Anthony Grafton comments: "The student who copied this manuscript had a lively talent for drawing, seen here in his sketches of the Baths of Diocletian. As a whole the lectures show the rich way in which Roman texts and antiquities illuminated each other in the interdisciplinary scholarship of the Roman humanists."

There's a detailed online description of the notebook in the St Louis microfilm library catalog. Grafton's catalog has the wrong folio reference to the image above, but page through the digitization and enjoy the other quick sketches made in 1484 or thereabouts.

Only four Vatican manuscripts were released online last week. They were:
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 167. 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.

2018-06-25

Peek-a-Boo

We all like peek-a-boo pictures and this one from the 13th century is quite elegant. It shows a lady shyly peeking at a suitor (out of sight past the bird) and considering the weighty question of whether they are compatible without breaking the rules of incest.
It appears at fol. CCXIIr of Vat.lat.2671, a codex of law which has just been digitized at the Vatican Library. The book is the Summa super titulis decretalium of Goffred de Trano, compiled between 1241 and 1243 and this is a copy from just a generation later, scribed 1270/80, perhaps in Puglia, Italy. The image is part of an arbor, a scheme of forbidden in-law unions.

Goffred, according to Hermann Schadt passim, is the first to propose that this diagram is a tree: "Et quia in qualibet arbore, fructifera et naturali, quattuor, attendunt, truncus, rami, fructus et frondes. Et in hac arbore scripta eadem considerari oportet." Far fetched, as these matrices don't really look anything like trees, but the artist obediently paints a bird and a big frondy leaf.

On another page is the other model for the matrix, the placard-carrying man. Here is the head:
.. and here are the feet:
At first sight I thought that little face in the middle, like a joey in a kangaroo pouch, was the holder of the placard. In fact, look at for a while and you might even see a hang-glider here :-)  

 In all, 53 books were digitized last week, and here is the full list:
  1. Barb.gr.388,
  2. Barb.gr.392,
  3. Borg.ind.62,
  4. Chig.E.VIII.251 (Upgraded to HQ),
  5. Ott.lat.2048 (Upgraded to HQ),
  6. Ott.lat.3375,
  7. Vat.copt.111,
  8. Vat.lat.2247,
  9. Vat.lat.2253,
  10. Vat.lat.2285,
  11. Vat.lat.2289,
  12. Vat.lat.2290 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.lat.2393,
  14. Vat.lat.2671 (above)
  15. Vat.lat.2804,
  16. Vat.lat.2818,
  17. Vat.lat.3175,
  18. Vat.lat.3185, the Ars Notoria, a book of magic, which was first mentioned by Michael Scot in 1236 and thus was written earlier. Lots of diagrams in this 14th or 15th century copy:
    See the eTK. The incipit, Ego Apollonius magister artium merito nuncupatus, apparently refers to the supposed (but most unlikely) author, Apollonius of Tyana
  19. Vat.lat.3239,
  20. Vat.lat.3243,
  21. Vat.lat.3250,
  22. Vat.lat.3268,
  23. Vat.lat.3335,
  24. Vat.lat.3338,
  25. Vat.lat.3339,
  26. Vat.lat.3343, Solinus, listed in: Milham, Mary E. 'A Handlist of the Manuscripts of C. Julius Solinus.' Scriptorium, 37 (1983), 128.
  27. Vat.lat.3346,
  28. Vat.lat.3348,
  29. Vat.lat.3349 (Upgraded to HQ),
  30. Vat.lat.3365,
  31. Vat.lat.3368 (Upgraded to HQ),
  32. Vat.lat.3371 (Upgraded to HQ),
  33. Vat.lat.3372 (Upgraded to HQ),
  34. Vat.lat.3376,
  35. Vat.lat.3377,
  36. Vat.lat.3379,
  37. Vat.lat.3381,
  38. Vat.lat.3382,
  39. Vat.lat.3385 (Upgraded to HQ),
  40. Vat.lat.3392,
  41. Vat.lat.3405,
  42. Vat.lat.3412,
  43. Vat.lat.3418,
  44. Vat.lat.3419 (Upgraded to HQ),
  45. Vat.lat.3426 (Upgraded to HQ), medical, eTK lists incipit: Ostendendum est diligenter quod humana corpora et animalium sunt;  mutabili et instabili (11th century)
  46. Vat.lat.3435,
  47. Vat.lat.3443,
  48. Vat.lat.3446,
  49. Vat.lat.3449,
  50. Vat.lat.3461,
  51. Vat.lat.3470,
  52. Vat.lat.11817,
  53. Vat.lat.13895,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 166. 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.

2018-06-17

The Islands

A remarkable 10th-century manuscript from southern Italy, perhaps from Monte Cassino, reveals  some of the first tender shoots of medieval illustration. Vat.lat.3342, just digitized by the Vatican Library, is a copy of Solinus's Collectanea rerum memorabilium, a compilation of marvels such as lotus-eaters, Amazons and the Blemmye with eyes in their chests and other racy bits from Pliny's Natural History.

There are no monsters in this codex, but a user has added little sketches of the islands of the world and their characteristic forms, as taught in schools since antiquity. Here are Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and Crete:





Britain has the scholiast stumped: how on earth is it shaped? Too weird. So he leaves it out, providing the gloss only in his own Carolingian-style handwriting. In the case of Taprobane (modern Sri Lanka), no one knows what is there so he shows it as an empty blob:



The main script is Beneventan according to Lowe, or as an earlier librarian called it on the flyleaf, lettera longobarda. Patrick Gautier Dalché, who notes that this the oldest extant manuscript of Mommsen's Class I of Solinus witnesses, identifies the glosses as coming from the Historiae of Orosius.

In Latin antiquity it was more or less settled that the known world comprises three continents and six main islands. The shapes were taught to help the student remember islands by their classically known outlines: much indented Corsica, four-cornered Sardinia, triangular Sicily, elongated strip-like Crete and pear-shaped Sri Lanka.

In all, 40 manuscripts have been scanned and placed online in the past week. Here is the list:
  1. Borg.ind.3 (Upgraded to HQ),
  2. Borg.ind.39,
  3. Borg.ind.42,
  4. Borg.ind.43,
  5. Borg.ind.46,
  6. Chig.R.V.33 (Upgraded to HQ),
  7. Ott.lat.3374 (Upgraded to HQ),
  8. Ott.lat.3376,
  9. Ott.lat.3378,
  10. Urb.gr.56 (Upgraded to HQ),
  11. Vat.estr.or.80,
  12. Vat.estr.or.92 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.gr.1298.pt.2 (Upgraded to HQ),
  14. Vat.ind.29,
  15. Vat.lat.2288,
  16. Vat.lat.2410,
  17. Vat.lat.2652,
  18. Vat.lat.2834 (Upgraded to HQ),
  19. Vat.lat.2858,
  20. Vat.lat.2873,
  21. Vat.lat.3252 (Upgraded to HQ),
  22. Vat.lat.3322 (Upgraded to HQ),
  23. Vat.lat.3324 (Upgraded to HQ),
  24. Vat.lat.3331,
  25. Vat.lat.3333 (Upgraded to HQ),
  26. Vat.lat.3336,
  27. Vat.lat.3342, a 10th-century copy of Solinus's Collectanea rerum memorabilium (above)
  28. Vat.lat.3344,
  29. Vat.lat.3355 (Upgraded to HQ),
  30. Vat.lat.3356,
  31. Vat.lat.3383,
  32. Vat.lat.3390,
  33. Vat.lat.3394,
  34. Vat.lat.3398,
  35. Vat.lat.3407,
  36. Vat.lat.3410,
  37. Vat.lat.3410.pt.A,
  38. Vat.lat.3411 (Upgraded to HQ),
  39. Vat.lat.3560,
  40. Vat.lat.6150,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 165. 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.

2018-06-11

Lectio Brevior

It's a modest little drawing at the bottom right corner of a page, yet it's a key to the history of visualization. Last week I blogged about the little T-O map attached in late antiquity to the Jugurthine War by Sallust, but could only offer you a much padded example with lots of medieval additions.

This week, the Vatican Library has digitized a purer example, one of the oldest surviving. It dates from the 10th century, is quite simple, and must be much closer to what a late-antique grammarian doodled on a Sallust text to assist students: a circle marked east at top, with half its surface marked Asia and the rest divided between Europe and Africa:


It appears in Vat.lat.3326, a Sallust codex containing the Bellum Catilinae, the Bellum Iugurthinum, and the spurious Epistulae ad Caesarem senem (Letters to Caesar in his Later Years), and as you can see, this week's diagram is less wordy than that of last week in Vat.lat.3328 (dated to the late 10th or early 11th century):

Text scholars generally apply a rule, lectio brevior praeferenda, whereby the less wordy of two versions is assumed to be the older one. Scribes and editors tended to augment texts, not to cut them.

Here is the full list of new digitizations:
  1. Chig.E.VII.215 (Upgraded to HQ), book of recovered manuscript fragments
  2. Ott.lat.3372,
  3. Ott.lat.3379,
  4. Vat.ind.39,
  5. Vat.lat.2245,
  6. Vat.lat.2264,
  7. Vat.lat.2283,
  8. Vat.lat.2284,
  9. Vat.lat.2303,
  10. Vat.lat.2785,
  11. Vat.lat.2917 (Upgraded to HQ),
  12. Vat.lat.2934.pt.2 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.lat.3190 (Upgraded to HQ),
  14. Vat.lat.3223 (Upgraded to HQ),
  15. Vat.lat.3235,
  16. Vat.lat.3248,
  17. Vat.lat.3263 (Upgraded to HQ),
  18. Vat.lat.3270 (Upgraded to HQ),
  19. Vat.lat.3303,
  20. Vat.lat.3315,
  21. Vat.lat.3316,
  22. Vat.lat.3320, a ninth century manuscript, considered one of the Beneventan script examples by Lowe. Mainly glossaries, tabulated.
  23. Vat.lat.3325,
  24. Vat.lat.3326, (above). DigiVatLib scooped me:
  25. Vat.lat.3327 (Upgraded to HQ), yet another Sallust with Bellum Catilinae, Bellum Iugurthinum, this from the 12th or 13th century. Also seen as Beneventan by Lowe.
  26. Vat.lat.3329,
  27. Vat.lat.3330,
  28. Vat.lat.3332,
  29. Vat.lat.3334 (Upgraded to HQ),
  30. Vat.lat.3337,
  31. Vat.lat.3351 (Upgraded to HQ),
  32. Vat.lat.3352 (Upgraded to HQ),
  33. Vat.lat.3373,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 164. 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.

2018-06-03

Map of War

One of the more mysterious of ancient diagrams is a T-O "map" found in medieval manuscripts of the Jugurthine War by Sallust. Who drew it? I've been gathering information about this in the last few weeks, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the diagram pop up in this week's list of Vatican Library digitizations:
This version in Vat.lat.3328 which is dated to the end of the 10th or start of the 11th century is perhaps of German provenance. Curiously the codex has been rebound at some stage using strips of parchment from a newer manuscript in 13th-century Beneventan writing to strengthen the binding (noted by Lowe of both this codex and Vat.lat.3262.)

Asia, and thus the direction east, is at the top in this version of the diagram, which has been much "improved" by the scribes with extra toponyms. Other recensions of the graphic are rather bare.

Where does it come from? I would be highly sceptical of the claim that Sallust himself drafted the diagram while writing his history of a war in North Africa, since visualizations of this sort were not a part of the literary man's repertoire in the classical period. So the diagram may well be an addition by a late antique grammaticus.

Patrick Gautier Dalché has written a series of splendid syntheses about such diagrams where he argues that their models arose in education in the 4th to 6th century (see below). Whether any scholar has yet collated the Jugurtha's World diagram and constructed a stemma of its development I simply don't know yet.

Recently I added a couple of mappamundi to my Library of Latin Diagrams, and the Jugurtha T-O will join the collection later, once I have figured out what the prior recension is.

Before proceeding to the full list of 42 new items of the past week on the Vatican portal, I must recommend a series of more than 100 tweets with the tag #PolonskyProject posted on May 30 by participants at a one-day conference at the Vatican about the future of manuscript digitization. I wasn't present unfortunately, but am grateful that someone in the audience asked why the Library puts an ugly ownership watermark on its online images:
So now we know.
  1. Barb.gr.301 (Upgraded to HQ),
  2. Barb.gr.304,
  3. Barb.lat.41,
  4. Bonc.E.1,
  5. Borg.turc.5,
  6. Ott.lat.3377,
  7. Reg.lat.1686 (Upgraded to HQ),
  8. Vat.gr.1157,
  9. Vat.lat.2362,
  10. Vat.lat.2856 (Upgraded to HQ),
  11. Vat.lat.2868 (Upgraded to HQ),
  12. Vat.lat.2889,
  13. Vat.lat.2973 (Upgraded to HQ),
  14. Vat.lat.2993,
  15. Vat.lat.3023,
  16. Vat.lat.3078,
  17. Vat.lat.3091,
  18. Vat.lat.3098, a 14th- or 15th-century science compilation with works by Levi ben Gershom (Astronomia), Campano da Novara and Muḥammad ibn Ǧābir Battānī. Note the care with which this geometrical diagram is drawn:
  19. Vat.lat.3123 (Upgraded to HQ), a beautiful little handbook of arithmetic, computus, calendars and trick with an abacus, including diagrams, either 12th or 13th century. eTK lists incipit: "Ars ista vocatur abacus hoc nomen vero Arabicum"
  20. Vat.lat.3161,
  21. Vat.lat.3218,
  22. Vat.lat.3222 (Upgraded to HQ),
  23. Vat.lat.3233 (Upgraded to HQ),
  24. Vat.lat.3236,
  25. Vat.lat.3259,
  26. Vat.lat.3266 (Upgraded to HQ),
  27. Vat.lat.3267,
  28. Vat.lat.3269 (Upgraded to HQ),
  29. Vat.lat.3280,
  30. Vat.lat.3282,
  31. Vat.lat.3283,
  32. Vat.lat.3287,
  33. Vat.lat.3289,
  34. Vat.lat.3290,
  35. Vat.lat.3297,
  36. Vat.lat.3298 (Upgraded to HQ),
  37. Vat.lat.3300,
  38. Vat.lat.3301,
  39. Vat.lat.3311 (Upgraded to HQ), Working Notebook by Pomponio Leto. See the Rome Reborn note by Anthony Grafton: "These fragments of what seems to have been Leto's field notebook contain his notes on an inscription including an ancient Roman calendar on stone. This calendar depicted the signs of the zodiac through which the sun passed, gave the lengths of days and nights, listed the agricultural tasks and religious festivals appropriate to each month, and provided other important information, like the dates of the solstices and equinoxes."
  40. Vat.lat.3319,
  41. Vat.lat.3323 (Upgraded to HQ),
  42. Vat.lat.3328, Bellum Jugurthinum of Sallust (above).
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 163. 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.

Gautier-DalchĂ©, Patrick. 2002. ‘Les diagrammes topographiques dans les manuscrits des classiques latins (Lucain, Solin, Salluste)’. In La tradition vive. MĂ©langes d’histoire des textes en l’honneur de Louis Holtz, 291–306. https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00008331.

-------. 2014. ‘L’enseignement de la gĂ©ographie dans l’antiquitĂ© tardive’. Klio 96 (1), 144–182. https://doi.org/10.1515/klio-2014-0006.

2018-05-27

Cicero's Witness

I've blogged a couple of times before (here and here) about the world's most famous unreturned library book, the unique copy of Cicero's guide to oratory in the bishop's palace at Lodi. It has not been seen since 1425, but fortunately multiple copies were made before it vanished.

This week, the Vatican's digitization portal placed online Vat.lat.3237, a valuable secondary witness to the content of the so-called Codex Laudensis.

There's a detailed article by Paola Scarcia Piacentini, La tradizione laudense di Cicerone ed un inesplorato manoscritto della Biblioteca Vaticana (Vat. Lat. 3237), about it. De Oratore, as I have mentioned, is especially important as a source for Cicero's theories of memory and visualization, and thus a landmark in the history of cognitive science.

In the past week, the portal released 54 new digitizations:
  1. Borg.ebr.21,
  2. Urb.lat.286,
  3. Vat.gr.1155, DigiVatLib announced this Gospels on Twitter simultaneous with release:
  4. Vat.lat.2237,
  5. Vat.lat.2241,
  6. Vat.lat.2275,
  7. Vat.lat.2279,
  8. Vat.lat.2766,
  9. Vat.lat.2846,
  10. Vat.lat.3140 (Upgraded to HQ),
  11. Vat.lat.3142,
  12. Vat.lat.3144 (Upgraded to HQ),
  13. Vat.lat.3145,
  14. Vat.lat.3148,
  15. Vat.lat.3149,
  16. Vat.lat.3150 (Upgraded to HQ),
  17. Vat.lat.3153,
  18. Vat.lat.3159,
  19. Vat.lat.3171,
  20. Vat.lat.3176 (Upgraded to HQ),
  21. Vat.lat.3186 (Upgraded to HQ),
  22. Vat.lat.3188 (Upgraded to HQ),
  23. Vat.lat.3189,
  24. Vat.lat.3191,
  25. Vat.lat.3194 (Upgraded to HQ),
  26. Vat.lat.3215 (Upgraded to HQ),
  27. Vat.lat.3220,
  28. Vat.lat.3228 (Upgraded to HQ),
  29. Vat.lat.3231,
  30. Vat.lat.3232,
  31. Vat.lat.3234,
  32. Vat.lat.3237, Cicero, De Oratore, useful in recovering the Codex Laudensis (above)
  33. Vat.lat.3238 (Upgraded to HQ),
  34. Vat.lat.3241,
  35. Vat.lat.3242,
  36. Vat.lat.3244,
  37. Vat.lat.3253 (Upgraded to HQ), 11th-century Virgil, Georgics and Aeneid, one of Lowe's examples of Beneventan script.
  38. Vat.lat.3254,
  39. Vat.lat.3257,
  40. Vat.lat.3258,
  41. Vat.lat.3260,
  42. Vat.lat.3262 (Upgraded to HQ), 11th-century Ovid, Fasti. One of Lowe's examples of Beneventan script.
  43. Vat.lat.3264, yet another of the five Fabio Mazzatosta codices, this time the Fasti of Ovid
  44. Vat.lat.3271,
  45. Vat.lat.3274 (Upgraded to HQ),
  46. Vat.lat.3275,
  47. Vat.lat.3276,
  48. Vat.lat.3278 (Upgraded to HQ),
  49. Vat.lat.3288,
  50. Vat.lat.3296,
  51. Vat.lat.3308,
  52. Vat.lat.3310,
  53. Vat.lat.3341 (Upgraded to HQ),
  54. Vat.lat.13985, Officium Beatae Virginis secundum consuetudinem Sanctimonialium Monasterii Sanctae Mariae de Virginibus de Venetiis, 14th-15th century
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 162. 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.

2018-05-24

Via Appia Found on Satellite Image

The Appian Way is perhaps the world's most celebrated road. On the outskirts of Rome it is a major tourist attraction. I have just discovered you can see some of its far reaches on photographs from space.

The Way seems to be the source of a common misconception in the English-speaking world that all Roman roads were solidly paved and ran straight as a laser, up hill and down dale, never yielding to the lie of the land. Beyond Terracina, much of the Via Appia was neither paved nor straight, but wriggled along long-worn prehistoric ridgeway routes, where the ground was drier (and harder) and the traveler had the best chance of spotting approaching attackers, whether they were bandits or bears.

Begun under the direction of Appius Claudius, a consul, in 312 BCE, the Via Appia initially connected Rome to Capua near Naples. Later it was extended to Brindisi on the Adriatic Coast. It was any physical traces of this latter extension that I was hoping to find while on a visit last week to Italy.

We were staying in the newly elegant city of Matera which is dolling itself up to be one of two European Capitals of Culture of 2019. In Roman times, Matera was just a remote warren of hand-hewn caves, never mentioned in the ancient sources. Perhaps it was a refuge of the above-mentioned bandits, who could murder a merchant on the Via Appia at dusk and carry the booty 15 kilometers away to the caves to hide it, safely holed up by midnight like the Ahlbergs' brigands:

Near Matera one finds two modern highways named Via Appia. The one beginning from Ferandina, national highway SS7, and proceeding via Matera to Massafra is a fake, although it too terminates at Brindisi. The other, Puglia provincial road SP28, marked "Strada Provinciale Appia" on maps, is, in some stretches at least, the real thing.

Recent articles by Luciano Piepoli dispense with the armchair scholarship (mainly German) about this part of the Via. They assemble new hard archaeological evidence about its course and stage-stops. Unfortunately Piepoli does not provide GIS geolocations (this ought to be prescribed by the style guides of every journal dealing with historical geography). He writes:
The Appian Way, at the exit from the current town of Gravina in Puglia, begins its path in a south-easterly direction near Scomunicata and, after having touched the localities of Graviscella and Ponte Padule Cardena, reaches the rocky outcrop of the Murgia Catena, located about 7 km southeast of Altamura. The road runs along the southern slope of this last location to Iesce, where there are the remains of an important settlement that had been abandoned by the 2nd century B.C. On the territory of Altamura, in a flat section between the southern slope of the Murgia Catena and the hillock of Montepovero, the projecting traces of wheel ruts are visible in the rocky surface for a length of about 200m and a total width of more than 30m, forming multiple lanes. Although they are not contemporary with one another, it appears highly probable by virtue of their topographical location that some of them must derive from the consular Via Appia. (My English, helped by Apple and Google Translate).
Hoping to see these traces of the wheels of ancient or medieval carts, we stopped our car on the shoulder of the SP28 at what we thought was the spot. Since a narrow lane of wheat was growing there on the verge of the road itself, we searched the rocky field behind it, but to no avail. On the point of giving up, and after nearly stepping on a sturdy snake, I finally discovered the ruts further up the road.

In the 50-second video above you may hear a cicada and will see the colorful wild flowers of a southern Italian spring including tall fennel, all growing in the dirt that has collected in the ruts.

The most pronounced track is at the left, close to the dry-stone wall. There are no doubt specialists who could estimate from the wheelbase whether this track is ancient or medieval. A second, shorter bunch of tracks can be found about 50m further down the hill (in a 24-second video). I have uploaded videos of both to my YouTube Channel.

The greatest surprise came later: these ruts are visible on common garden satellite imagery. When I studied the same location on Google Maps later, I was amazed to see the big set of ruts quite clearly at the location 40.76424, 16.61516 (tip: copy just this to any sat-nav or mapping app to find it):

As far as I know, this remarkable, aerially visible archaeological site is not listed on any of the ancient geographical portals such as the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire, Pelagios or Vici. I can see how to add it to Vici (and will add it later), but I must admit that I have no idea yet how to contribute it to the former two. They do not offer any "guide for dummies" instructions.

These stone remains are no longer 30 meters wide, since the new road passes through the middle, and they do not seem to have gained any legal protection, although the feature is surely known locally. The IGM map of 1919 (reproduced as British AMS M791 of 1939) labels a nearby stretch of the road "od via antica Via Appia" (I don't know what "od" means).

Piepoli relies on a survey of the area by the great aerial archaeologist of the 1920s to the 1950s, Giuseppe Lugli, so I presume these remains are mentioned in Lugli's books or articles. As far as I can tell, they are the only surface evidence left of the ancient Via Appia between Gravina and Tarento.

The fact that wheels ran across bedrock here is an indication that the highway was unpaved. A few kilometers away, the route has been archaeologically excavated. Piepoli writes:
Near Masseria Capitolicchio Vecchia, recent excavations conducted by the Archaeological Superintendency of Puglia have highlighted a short stretch (about 200 x 4.90 m) of a road - of the glareata type - interpreted, on the basis of the construction technique, orientation and topographic context, as a segment of the Appian Way [Mattioli, 2002]. An interesting fact which emerged during the excavations is that the roadway is partially obliterated by a layer of relative collapse likely due to a structure located near the road axis. The ceramic finds and coins found can be dated between the end of the 2nd century BC and the 3rd century AD, which could be considered as a terminus post quem for the abandonment of the Via Appia in this section.
The simple glareata road had a base of stones, built up to a sand or gravel surface, and would be kicked or ground apart by heavy traffic if it were not maintained. This is probably what happened at 40.76424, 16.61516, exposing the bedrock to the grinding of cart and carriage wheels. Above, I mentioned a narrow crop of wheat growing in the queen's acre (the roadside). It too is clearly visible in the space imagery, and occupies what seems to have once been a ford through a seasonal stream, the Vulle. No doubt the silt, organic particles and the churning of the wheels created a fertile slough in this rocky landscape which, as the 1919 map shows, travelers had to edge around.

Most of the Via Appia in this area follows the watershed. Here's a more open location, looking towards the Murgia Catena from the north-west, where you may be able to see that the land slopes very lightly away to both sides.

To the left of this spot, the drop to the base of the valley is quite substantial, as the next image shows:

In an article this year, the scholar Tønnes Bekker-Nielsen compares the posterity of this southern Via Appia built in the 3rd century BCE to the highly engineered Via Traiana built with cuttings and bridges in the 2nd century CE. The bridges ultimately fell down, whereas the prehistoric footpaths and droving tracks along the watersheds proved indestructible. The self-maintaining character of ridgeway routes even after all their gravel has eroded away is the reason that the Via Appia remained in continuous medieval and modern use and was then resurfaced in the 20th century:
For the Roman traveler, the Via Traiana was a significant improvement. It was shorter, had far fewer inclines and declines and was less vulnerable to snowfall. But despite the many advantages of the Via Traiana, it is the Via Appia which has survived to this day. An estimated 90% of the total length of the Appia is still in use as graveled or asphalt road. Large portions of the Via Traiana, on the other hand, are overgrown and impassable. (My assisted translation from the Danish.) 
Bekker-Nielsen, Tønnes. ‘Romerske Veje i Syditalien: Via Appia Og via Traiana’. Vejhistorie, 2018. Academia.edu

Piepoli, Luciano. ‘Blera e Sub Lupatia (It. Ant. 121,4-5): Proposte per l'identificazione di due stazioni itinerarie lungo il tratto apulo della via Appia’. In Statio amoena: Sostare e vivere lungo le strade romane, edited by Patrizia Basso and Enrico Zanini. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2016.  Academia.edu

———. ‘Il percorso della via Appia antica nell'Apulia et Calabria: Stato dell'arte e nuove acquisizioni sul tratto Gravina-Taranto’, in Vetera Christianorum, 51, 2014, 239-261’. Academia.edu.

2018-05-22

First Accounting Handbook

Luca Pacioli, the mathematician who instructed Leonardo da Vinci and for a time lived in the same house, hand-wrote a remarkable textbook, the Tractatus mathematicus ad discipulos perusinos, for his students at the University of Perugia, where Pacioli taught from 1477 to 1480.

This celebrated source-book of merchant arithmetic, preserved as Vat.lat.3129 at the Vatican Library, is seen as the start of the formal study of accounting. A color scan has just been presented online, replacing a murky black and white image on the library portal. It is among the most celebrated items to emerge from the digitization program in the past week. Below is the full list of 107 items:
  1. Barb.gr.283,
  2. Barb.lat.3867,
  3. Chig.L.IV.106.pt.A,
  4. Ott.lat.349,
  5. Ott.lat.3371,
  6. Vat.gr.1159,
  7. Vat.gr.1229,
  8. Vat.lat.2261,
  9. Vat.lat.2268,
  10. Vat.lat.2269,
  11. Vat.lat.2314, Summa Hostiensis with notable arbor juris diagrams:
  12. Vat.lat.2321,
  13. Vat.lat.2331,
  14. Vat.lat.2352,
  15. Vat.lat.2377,
  16. Vat.lat.2402,
  17. Vat.lat.2405,
  18. Vat.lat.2409,
  19. Vat.lat.2425,
  20. Vat.lat.2451,
  21. Vat.lat.2463 (Upgraded to HQ),
  22. Vat.lat.2480,
  23. Vat.lat.2674,
  24. Vat.lat.2682,
  25. Vat.lat.2684,
  26. Vat.lat.2702,
  27. Vat.lat.2745,
  28. Vat.lat.2830,
  29. Vat.lat.2840,
  30. Vat.lat.2848,
  31. Vat.lat.2849,
  32. Vat.lat.2857,
  33. Vat.lat.2895,
  34. Vat.lat.2902,
  35. Vat.lat.2945,
  36. Vat.lat.2990,
  37. Vat.lat.2995,
  38. Vat.lat.3028,
  39. Vat.lat.3048 (Upgraded to HQ),
  40. Vat.lat.3051,
  41. Vat.lat.3053,
  42. Vat.lat.3058 (Upgraded to HQ),
  43. Vat.lat.3059,
  44. Vat.lat.3062,
  45. Vat.lat.3067,
  46. Vat.lat.3068,
  47. Vat.lat.3069,
  48. Vat.lat.3070, See eTK
  49. Vat.lat.3076 (Upgraded to HQ),
  50. Vat.lat.3079,
  51. Vat.lat.3080,
  52. Vat.lat.3082 (Upgraded to HQ),
  53. Vat.lat.3084,
  54. Vat.lat.3086,
  55. Vat.lat.3088, See eTK
  56. Vat.lat.3089,
  57. Vat.lat.3095,
  58. Vat.lat.3099, See eTK
  59. Vat.lat.3101 (Upgraded to HQ), See eTK
  60. Vat.lat.3103, See eTK
  61. Vat.lat.3104,
  62. Vat.lat.3105,
  63. Vat.lat.3107, an almanac for Pope Paul II by Nicholas Germanus. See eTK. This was exhibited in the Rome Reborn show, and Anthony Grafton's catalog calls it an "uncommonly beautiful example of an almanac, computed for the years 1466 to 1484". Here is the partial solar eclipse on April 26, 1473 predicted and illustrated:
  64. Vat.lat.3109,
  65. Vat.lat.3111,
  66. Vat.lat.3112 (Upgraded to HQ),
  67. Vat.lat.3113,
  68. Vat.lat.3114,
  69. Vat.lat.3116,
  70. Vat.lat.3117,
  71. Vat.lat.3118 (Upgraded to HQ),
  72. Vat.lat.3119,
  73. Vat.lat.3121, See eTK
  74. Vat.lat.3122 (Upgraded to HQ),
  75. Vat.lat.3124 (Upgraded to HQ),
  76. Vat.lat.3126,
  77. Vat.lat.3127,
  78. Vat.lat.3129 (Upgraded to HQ), Luca Pacioli (above)
  79. Vat.lat.3130 (Upgraded to HQ),
  80. Vat.lat.3133,
  81. Vat.lat.3134 (Upgraded to HQ),
  82. Vat.lat.3135,
  83. Vat.lat.3137,
  84. Vat.lat.3141 (Upgraded to HQ),
  85. Vat.lat.3146,
  86. Vat.lat.3152,
  87. Vat.lat.3154,
  88. Vat.lat.3155,
  89. Vat.lat.3158,
  90. Vat.lat.3160,
  91. Vat.lat.3162,
  92. Vat.lat.3163,
  93. Vat.lat.3164,
  94. Vat.lat.3166, See eTK
  95. Vat.lat.3167,
  96. Vat.lat.3168 (Upgraded to HQ),
  97. Vat.lat.3172,
  98. Vat.lat.3177,
  99. Vat.lat.3178,
  100. Vat.lat.3179,
  101. Vat.lat.3182,
  102. Vat.lat.3209,
  103. Vat.lat.3211 (Upgraded to HQ),
  104. Vat.lat.3213 (Upgraded to HQ),
  105. Vat.lat.3240,
  106. Vat.lat.3769,
  107. Vat.lat.3839 (Upgraded to HQ),
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 161. 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.