Posts Tagged ‘Sacred and Imperial Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount of Sinai’

The pages, Schrope reports, “seemed oddly familiar. … Dr. Kessel realized that just three weeks earlier, in a library at Harvard University, he had seen a single orphaned page that was too similar to these pages to be coincidence.

“The manuscript he held contained a hidden translation of an ancient, influential medical text by Galen of Pergamon, a Greco-Roman physician and philosopher who died in 200 A.D. It was missing pages and Dr. Kessel was suddenly convinced one of them was in Boston.

“Dr. Kessel’s realization in February 2013 marked the beginning of a global hunt for the other lost leaves, a search that culminated in May with the digitization of the final rediscovered page in Paris. …

“In 2009, the Galen Palimpsest was lent to the Walters Art Museum for spectral imaging of its leaves by an independent group of specialists, which would reveal the erased Galen undertext. …

“The resulting images went online under a ‘creative commons’ license, meaning that anyone can use the material free for any noncommercial purpose. Once the images were online, William Noel, who was the curator of manuscripts and rare books at the museum, began organizing members of the tiny community of scholars who study Syriac scientific texts to study the new material.

“One of them was Dr. Kessel … By analyzing the page size, handwriting and other features, as well as the visible text, Dr. Kessel was able to determine that the Harvard leaf did indeed fill one of the gaps in the Galen Palimpsest. But six more were apparently missing. Dr. Kessel set out to find them.

“He began with a list of 10 libraries known to have ancient Syriac material, combing through online catalogs when available to look for clues such as the right dimensions or vague references to undertext. Sometimes, he traveled to the libraries himself. …

“It was not long before Dr. Kessel had good news. He found one missing page in a catalog from the Sacred and Imperial Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount of Sinai. It is known more commonly as St. Catherine’s in the Sinai Desert in Egypt, which has the world’s oldest continuously operating library.

“Another leaf turned up at the National Library of France in Paris. And at the Vatican’s vast library in Rome, he was able to identify the other three missing leaves, bringing the total to six.”

Read more here about the hunt, and learn what scholars hope to glean from the restored text.

Photo: Anonymous owner of the manuscript

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