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.


Holy Mountain

One of the many curious features of the Tabula Peutingeriana is a depiction of Monte Tifata, a holy mountain in Campania, Italy. Tifata is a strong point, a ridge 600 metres high with steep slopes. From the top you get a view both ways along the Via Appia, and also to Vesuvius to the south and the River Volturno below (Corryx, Wikipedia, 2016).

The Tabula depicts Tifata Mons with two notable temples and a sacred spring:
From left to right (west to east) these places are the Baths of Sulla, a Temple of Diana (Diana Tifatina) and a Temple of Jove (Iovis Tifatinus). The whole drawing seems to be fairly accurate, as it is now accepted that the temple to Diana was at the western foot of the mountain and its stone is probably incorporated within the walls of the splendid Benedictine basilica of Sant'Angelo in Formis. Note how the temple at right seems to be drawn in a perspective suggesting it is on a height.

Stefania Quilici Gigli hypothesizes that the Baths of Sulla were close by. Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (c. 138 BC – 78 BC) had won a victory at Caio Norbano near here on his 83 BC March on Rome. The Roman historian Velleius states that Sulla made a foundation of land and waters here to celebrate this, reading thus in the Shipley translation
It was while Sulla was ascending Mount Tifata that he had encountered Gaius Norbanus. After his victory over him he paid a vow of gratitude to Diana, to whom that region is sacred, and consecrated to the goddess the waters renowned for their salubrity and water to heal, as well as all the lands in the vicinity. The record of this pleasing act of piety is witnessed to this day by an inscription on the door of the temple, and a bronze tablet within the edifice. 
This does not explicitly say there were baths, but Stefania Quilici Gigli thinks nearby land-marker inscriptions of a later period refer to this land use and both custom and the Tabula would indicate the “waters” were utilized as baths. The purpose of bathing would have been healing rather than play.

The temple of Jove is thought to have been at the summit, near today’s illuminated cross, the Croce del Tifata:

A hiking trail to this is shown on an Italian trails site, Sentieri dei Colli Tifatini.

Knowing all this, the illustrations in the Tabula are most interesting. The two pictures of temples are of a type, but with different fronts. One (Diana) shows a rose window in the front, the other (Jove) shows a high doorway, and I realize after seeing a picture of Sant'Angelo that this probably represents an arch added at the front:

The third image shows an expansive building of two storeys with a tower and a similar arched entrance at left. The usual Tabula icon for a baths lacks such a tower, so perhaps the extra element is a distinctive feature of the Tifata site.

As I note above, I am sceptical of the view (forever associated with the Levis) that baths on the Tabula denote places of recreation. I suggest the primary connotation of such buildings for pre-Christian readers was as ritual sites, and thus the focus would be on the magic rather than the purely pleasurable quality of the waters.


Easter List

Here we have the 24 Easter releases from the Vatican Library's digital portal:
  1. Ross.398,
  2. Ross.425,
  3. Urb.lat.1292, commentary on Aristotle
  4. Urb.lat.1500,
  5. Urb.lat.1505, life of Andres Avelino of Basilicata
  6. Urb.lat.1621, printed newsletters, 1641-43
  7. Urb.lat.1762, missal
  8. Vat.lat.2345, legal, Egidius de Bellamera
  9. Vat.lat.2509 (Upgraded to HQ), Compilation 1 with Apparatus of Tancred [original version] (1-93); Compilation 2 with Apparatus of Tancred [original version] (94-139); Compilation 3 [French rec.] with Apparatus of Tancred [final version] (140-275v); Compilation 4 with Apparatus of Johannes Teutonicus (276-310) (from the list of Brendan McManus).
  10. Vat.lat.2515, Digest of Justinian, with commentary
  11. Vat.lat.3431,
  12. Vat.lat.3482,
  13. Vat.lat.4703,
  14. Vat.lat.4715,
  15. Vat.lat.4730, pontifical
  16. Vat.lat.4732,
  17. Vat.lat.4736,
  18. Vat.lat.4737,
  19. Vat.lat.4740,
  20. Vat.lat.4752.pt.1,
  21. Vat.lat.4784 (Upgraded to HQ), Petrarch
  22. Vat.lat.4787 (Upgraded to HQ), Florentine poetry
  23. Vat.lat.4921,
  24. Vat.lat.7594, pontifical mass
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 205. 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.


Martellus draws Ptolemy

A de luxe Renaissance atlas containing Ptolemy's Geography in Latin translation has just shown up online. The maps are as beautiful as any from the period. Here's Cyprus, Palestine and Syria:

These hand-drawn illuminations are believed to be the earliest surviving maps from the cartographer Heinrich Martellus Germanus and although the manuscript is not explicitly dated, are thought to have been drawn in 1480 in Florence. The Latin translation is by Iacopo d'Angelo da Scarperia.

The codex dates from the period when the West was rediscovering the 2nd-century scientist Ptolemy.
Curiously, Ptolemy's work had impressed his contemporaries with its detail, but failed to trigger any cartographical revolution at the time, perhaps because his ideas were too difficult for antique or late antique students to fully grasp. My forthcoming paper in Amsterdam in July will be touching on that topic.

In all, 41 manuscripts came online over the past week at the Vatican Library. Here is the full list:
  1. Barb.lat.62,
  2. Ross.115,
  3. Ross.299 (Upgraded to HQ),
  4. Ross.307 (Upgraded to HQ), Decretum
  5. Ross.308, Decretum
  6. Ross.317,
  7. Ross.339,
  8. Ross.366,
  9. Ross.373,
  10. Ross.375,
  11. Ross.381,
  12. Ross.382,
  13. Ross.383,
  14. Ross.387,
  15. Ross.397,
  16. Ross.423 (Upgraded to HQ),
  17. Urb.lat.1291,
  18. Urb.lat.1522,
  19. Urb.lat.1577,
  20. Urb.lat.1685.pt.1,
  21. Urb.lat.1685.pt.2,
  22. Vat.lat.2475,
  23. Vat.lat.2489,
  24. Vat.lat.4114,
  25. Vat.lat.4665,
  26. Vat.lat.4694,
  27. Vat.lat.4699,
  28. Vat.lat.4716,
  29. Vat.lat.4717,
  30. Vat.lat.4724,
  31. Vat.lat.4728,
  32. Vat.lat.4731,
  33. Vat.lat.4739 (Upgraded to HQ),
  34. Vat.lat.4744,
  35. Vat.lat.4746 (Upgraded to HQ),
  36. Vat.lat.4757,
  37. Vat.lat.4763,
  38. Vat.lat.4768,
  39. Vat.lat.4771,
  40. Vat.lat.4773,
  41. Vat.lat.7289, beautiful Renaissance codex, Latin translation of Ptolemy's Geography, see above
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 204. 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.



In the past week, 60 Vatican manuscripts arrived online, many of them with fine illuminated initials. Here is my unofficial list:
  1. Ross.127,
  2. Ross.297,
  3. Ross.298 (Upgraded to HQ), music manuscript, Dominican liturgy
  4. Ross.315,
  5. Ross.318,
  6. Ross.319,
  7. Ross.320,
  8. Ross.329 (Upgraded to HQ),
  9. Ross.347 (Upgraded to HQ),
  10. Ross.354,
  11. Ross.391,
  12. Ross.392,
  13. Ross.394,
  14. Ross.395,
  15. Ross.396,
  16. Urb.lat.498.pt.2 (Upgraded to HQ),
  17. Urb.lat.610,
  18. Urb.lat.895,
  19. Urb.lat.968,
  20. Urb.lat.1099.pt.2,
  21. Urb.lat.1224,
  22. Urb.lat.1232,
  23. Urb.lat.1257,
  24. Urb.lat.1259,
  25. Urb.lat.1332,
  26. Urb.lat.1334,
  27. Urb.lat.1373,
  28. Urb.lat.1382,
  29. Urb.lat.1511,
  30. Urb.lat.1653,
  31. Urb.lat.1660,
  32. Urb.lat.1662,
  33. Urb.lat.1758,
  34. Vat.estr.or.35,
  35. Vat.gr.2421.pt.A (Upgraded to HQ), charter
  36. Vat.gr.2440.pt.A (Upgraded to HQ),
  37. Vat.gr.2442.pt.A (Upgraded to HQ),
  38. Vat.gr.2458.pt.A (Upgraded to HQ),
  39. Vat.lat.2464,  Jacobus de Forlivio, commentary on Hippocrates, see Jordanus
  40. Vat.lat.4238,
  41. Vat.lat.4649,
  42. Vat.lat.4683,
  43. Vat.lat.4686,
  44. Vat.lat.4691,
  45. Vat.lat.4701,
  46. Vat.lat.4734,
  47. Vat.lat.4741,
  48. Vat.lat.4742,
  49. Vat.lat.4743,
  50. Vat.lat.4752.pt.2, Franciscan breviary, 15th century, with this fine miniature of the Presentation
  51. Vat.lat.4753,
  52. Vat.lat.4762,
  53. Vat.lat.4769,
  54. Vat.lat.4778,
  55. Vat.lat.9820.pt.A, notes by H. M. Bannister on the condition of an exultet roll, 10th century or a little later. The roll itself, pt.B presumably, does not yet seem to be online
  56. Vat.lat.12936,
  57. Vat.lat.12946.pt.A, @gundormr (above) flags this as containing diagrams of the Farnese planisphere clock, 18th century
  58. Vat.lat.12946.pt.B,
  59. Vat.lat.13118, bundle of charters, some Greek?
  60. Vat.lat.13488.pt.1, scraps and charters
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 203. 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.



Three legal books with fine Renaissance illumination are among stars of this week's release of digitized codices at the Vatican Library. Here is the full list of 40 items:
  1. Borg.copt.109.cass.XXIII.fasc.99, codex with parallel texts in Greek and Arabic of propetical books
  2. Ross.241, Augustine
  3. Ross.335,
  4. Ross.336,
  5. Urb.lat.775,
  6. Urb.lat.929,
  7. Urb.lat.1029.pt.1,
  8. Urb.lat.1098.pt.2,
  9. Urb.lat.1099.pt.1,
  10. Urb.lat.1129,
  11. Urb.lat.1131,
  12. Urb.lat.1133,
  13. Urb.lat.1161,
  14. Urb.lat.1188,
  15. Urb.lat.1509.pt.1,
  16. Urb.lat.1509.pt.2,
  17. Urb.lat.1667,
  18. Urb.lat.1668,
  19. Urb.lat.1669,
  20. Urb.lat.1670,
  21. Urb.lat.1672,
  22. Urb.lat.1673,
  23. Urb.lat.1674,
  24. Urb.lat.1760,
  25. Vat.lat.2443,
  26. Vat.lat.2491, Decretals
    medievalilluminators retweeted: Many thanks! I have been waiting for this Decretum for a long time! https://twitter.com/jf_illuminator/status/1113342206914510851
  27. Vat.lat.2499, Decretals, note illuminations
  28. Vat.lat.2502, Decretals
  29. Vat.lat.4647,
  30. Vat.lat.4668,
  31. Vat.lat.4697,
  32. Vat.lat.4706,
  33. Vat.lat.4707,
  34. Vat.lat.4712 (Upgraded to HQ),
  35. Vat.lat.4714,
  36. Vat.lat.4727, ceremonial, after 1415
  37. Vat.lat.4729,
  38. Vat.lat.4733,
  39. Vat.lat.4735,
  40. Vat.lat.4747, missal, illuminated initials
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 202. 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.


His Master's Voice?

For centuries, the Treatise on Painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) has been regarded as the greatest book on technique in the history of western art. It was compiled posthumously by Leonardo’s faithful pupil Francesco Melzi from the master's notes and drawings.

Melzi's 1540 compilation was not published until 1651, and then only in an abbreviated version with illustrations by Nicholas Poussin. The full Melzi compilation was published for the first time by Guglielmo Manzi in Rome in 1817. In the 200 years since, Leonardo scholars have compared the text with what remains of Leonardo's own notes and contended that it does not reflect Leonardo's views accurately.

The manuscript at the center of this controversy about authenticity is in the Vatican Library. Urb.lat.1270 has just been digitized in color after only being online in black and white.

Read it to see how Melzi put the book together. One of the mysteries is how this text even survived. There is no documentation of the Melzi manuscript's whereabouts until 1626. Francesca Fiorani has compiled a whole website about the treatise and its turbulent and troubled history.

Last week 29 manuscripts were brought online by the library in Rome. My list:
  1. Urb.lat.778,
  2. Urb.lat.801,
  3. Urb.lat.985,
  4. Urb.lat.1098.pt.1,
  5. Urb.lat.1209,
  6. Urb.lat.1212,
  7. Urb.lat.1215.pt.2,
  8. Urb.lat.1270 (Upgraded to HQ), Melzi's original 1540 compilation of Leonardo's da Vinci's treatise on painting (above)
  9. Urb.lat.1450,
  10. Urb.lat.1523,
  11. Urb.lat.1556,
  12. Urb.lat.1594.pt.2,
  13. Urb.lat.1650 (Upgraded to HQ): records of the conclave which elected Pope Innocent X
  14. Urb.lat.1659,
  15. Urb.lat.1665,
  16. Urb.lat.1666,
  17. Vat.lat.2497,
  18. Vat.lat.3975,
  19. Vat.lat.4646,
  20. Vat.lat.4654.pt.1,
  21. Vat.lat.4677,
  22. Vat.lat.4679,
  23. Vat.lat.4681 (Upgraded to HQ), a Renaissance manuscript of Caesar's Gallic War, with this curious initial where the rump of Caesar's horse is adorned with a very Germanic double-headed eagle: 
  24. Vat.lat.4682,
  25. Vat.lat.4684,
  26. Vat.lat.4693,
  27. Vat.lat.4695,
  28. Vat.lat.4696,
  29. Vat.turc.30,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 201. 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.


Let's Keep Going

This is number 200 in a series of blog posts known as "Piggin's Unofficial Lists". The idea from the beginning was to pass on the news when I saw that some of the Vatican Library's most famous manuscripts had arrived online. There is no official list of weekly releases, so software help was needed for a mere user to detect changes in the published index of available manuscripts.

@gundormr has kindly provide the software to pick the changes and I compare these with a hand-list of 2,500 notable manuscripts which I drew up. With time, there are naturally fewer unfound items on that list (currently down to 1,600), since most of the very old and the very famous manuscripts are by now already up on the web for the whole world to read. The librarians fast-forwarded their greatest treasures into the digitization process.

My cancer is continuing its ravages (and so is the cut-poison-burn protocol used to fight it) and my health will soon undoubtedly decline to the point where Piggin's Unofficial Lists cannot go on.

But not just yet please! We are still waiting for some notable Vatican releases including William of Moerbeke's holograph Latin translation of Archimedes, Ott.lat.1850, and the Vatican Beatus, Vat.lat.7621. And I have talks to deliver at the International Conference on the History of Cartography in Amsterdam in July and Die Tabula Peutingeriana: Aktuelle Forschungsansätze und neue Ergebnisse in Vienna in September.

Four years ago, the first PUL issue, Is This the World's Oldest Bound Book? noted there were 1,626 manuscripts online by then. Today there are 17,413, more than ten times as many, but still only about one fifth of the amazing manuscript holdings at the Vatican.

Sometimes, when I look through the releases now, it is a challenge to find any codex in the weekly crop that is worth describing in words of excitement. It is pleasing that @DigitaVaticana has been issuing more frequent #LatestDigitizedManuscripts tweets recently, but PUL will keep appearing for a while yet.

Here is this week's list of 54 items:
  1. Barb.gr.300,
  2. Barb.gr.446,
  3. Barb.gr.471,
  4. Barb.gr.565.pt.1, lectionary (Evangelistarion) Gregory-Aland ℓ 134 of the 13th century, see Wikipedia 
  5. Barb.gr.565.pt.2,
  6. Barb.gr.579,
  7. Barb.gr.593,
  8. Barb.lat.33,
  9. Borg.copt.109.fasc.24,
  10. Ross.87,
  11. Ross.237,
  12. Urb.lat.563,
  13. Urb.lat.606,
  14. Urb.lat.619,
  15. Urb.lat.905,
  16. Urb.lat.967,
  17. Urb.lat.1288,
  18. Urb.lat.1464.pt.1,
  19. Urb.lat.1481.pt.1,
  20. Urb.lat.1481.pt.2,
  21. Urb.lat.1515,
  22. Urb.lat.1527,
  23. Urb.lat.1535,
  24. Urb.lat.1537,
  25. Urb.lat.1594.pt.1,
  26. Urb.lat.1651,
  27. Urb.lat.1654,
  28. Urb.lat.1658,
  29. Vat.estr.or.57,
  30. Vat.lat.2485,
  31. Vat.lat.2490,
  32. Vat.lat.3364, a book of draft papal letters scribed (and full of scratchings and amendments) by papal secretary Pietro Bembo: Epistulae nomine Leonis X scriptae (letters written for Leo X), When this was shown in the Rome Reborn exhibition, Anthony Grafton noted: "Bembo's autograph letters ... provide a good sample of "chancery italic," a script developed by Roman humanists in the late fifteenth century from the humanist cursive minuscule invented by the Florentine humanist Niccolo Niccoli in the 1420s." Today's lovely typeface Bembo is named after Pietro, but not because of his handwriting. Rather, the typographers' inspiration was a book of Pietro Bembo's verse in a font cut in 1495 by Francesco Griffo for Venetian printer Aldus Manutius.
  33. Vat.lat.4046,
  34. Vat.lat.4186,
  35. Vat.lat.4192 (Upgraded to HQ),
  36. Vat.lat.4194,
  37. Vat.lat.4472 (Upgraded to HQ),
  38. Vat.lat.4591, see also in Jordanus
  39. Vat.lat.4592, Ptolemaic astronomical tables for emperor Frederick III, see Jordanus 
  40. Vat.lat.4635,
  41. Vat.lat.4648 (Upgraded to HQ),
  42. Vat.lat.4656,
  43. Vat.lat.4657,
  44. Vat.lat.4664,
  45. Vat.lat.4670,
  46. Vat.lat.4675,
  47. Vat.lat.4676,
  48. Vat.lat.4687,
  49. Vat.lat.4690,
  50. Vat.lat.4692,
  51. Vat.lat.4704,
  52. Vat.lat.5604,
  53. Vat.lat.13488.pt.2,
  54. Vat.lat.14740,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 200. 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.