Take a Literary Pilgrimage
Paleography involves the study of ancient writing and the decipherment of ancient scripts. Medieval manuscripts are filled with abbreviations that make deciphering the texts difficult. The task of deciphering involves transcription which refers to writing out the text into fully-expanded, comprehensible Latin. Transcribing involves a meticulous examination of each word, each letter, and each feature of the text. We invite you to join us in exploring the work of the medieval scribe. An hour or two into the task, and we feel tension in the shoulders, aching hands, and mental weariness. It is through such careful examination that we begin to understand the value and beauty of the medieval page and the weariness the scribes endured in order to preserve the text.
An Important Note about the Nature and Scope of our Work
The impetus for the Purdue Paleography Project was to provide transcriptions and translations of leaves that had long been sitting unappreciated in the archives. We wanted to breathe new life into them and encourage others to take a look. We also wanted to offer an opportunity for others to explore the field of paleography. We hope that the project will spark curiosity about other aspects of manuscript studies: the production and continued care of the parchment, the task of rendering translations, and questions raised about the dates, history, provenance, and purpose of the manuscripts. This project lies at the intersection of classical studies, medieval studies, philology, archival studies, and digital humanities, while allowing for collaboration with colleagues in fields such as: religious studies, art history, music history, and computer science. Most importantly, this project allows us an up close look at the process of scribal reduplication and transmission. Just as the scribe’s efforts enabled a wider audience to enjoy the texts, so too we offer these unique leaves to modern readers.
A Note about the Transcriptions and Translations
Since our intention is to make this site easy for beginning and intermediate Latin students to use, we decided to use conventional Latin spellings in our transcriptions in places where we felt confusion might arise. For example, we converted all spellings using “e” to the diphthong “ae” where “ae” would be expected in classical Latin. With regard to the translations, in places where scribal errors render the translation incomprehensible or the scribe deviates from the Vulgate, we often felt it necessary to include those scribal variations in the context of a note rather than creating confusion within the translation itself.