1. ITV Report

Scroll down: University announces plan to digitise ancient manuscripts

Saint Mark from a Greek New Testament manuscript at Cambridge University Library Photo: University of Cambridge

Hundreds of medieval and early modern Greek manuscripts – including important works on religion, mathematics, and philosophy – are to be made available on the internet.

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Cambridge University Library, 12 Cambridge colleges, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Heidelberg University Library and the Vatican Library have teamed up to digitise more than 800 medieval manuscripts.

The project, which was announced today, will be funded by the cultural heritage charity The Polonsky Foundation which is investing £1.6m in the scheme.

“The works of Homer and Plato were copied and recopied throughout the medieval period and the early biblical and liturgical manuscripts are profoundly important for our understanding of a Christian culture based on the written word. “These multilingual, multicultural, multifarious works, that cross borders, disciplines and the centuries, testify to a deep scholarly engagement with Greek texts and Greek culture that both universities are committed to upholding.”

– Dr Suzanne Paul, Keeper of Rare Books and Early Manuscripts, Cambridge University Library
A Greek New Testament manuscript showing Christ Credit: Cambridge University Library

The Cambridge Digital Library was launched in 2010 with the digitisation of Newton’s Principia Mathematica. Since then a huge range of rarely seen works have been published on the site. Figures from Cambridge’s Digital Library show that the manuscripts have been accessed more than 17 million times.

It's hoped the project will provide greater opportunities for the rare works to be studied.

Speaking to the University website, Dr Jessica Gardener said she hoped that one day all the university manuscripts would be online.

“I would like us to get to the stage where the University’s entire medieval collections are digitised. This project is testament to what can be achieved when Cambridge’s libraries, colleges and museums work in tandem – while at the same time building ever-closer relationships with a distinguished European research library like our own.”

– Dr Jessica Gardner, Cambridge University Librarian