A very interesting article (in English) by J. Gruskova has appeared on the web, discussing recent work with Byzantine palimpsests, at the Austrian National Library. Somewhat annoyingly the PDF doesn’t allow copying of the text, so I can’t give you more than snippets here.
The article notes various palimpsests where modern technology – multi-spectral imaging – is producing spectacular results, even compared with the use of UV lamps less than 10 years ago.
The most interesting is the discovery of two leaves from a manuscript of Eusebius’ Chronicon book 1, otherwise preserved only in a single Armenian manuscript. The ms. is Vienna Iur. gr. 18, fol. 32 and 39, which must have been an internal bifolium of a quire. Comparing it with Karst’s GCS edition, it contains the text from Karst p.9, line 1, to Karst p.10 line 27. It was digitised under UV in 2007 and 2008, which allowed only 60% of the text to be read; MSI will now be applied to it.
Other items discussed are 33 folios of Herodian’s De prosodia catholica, a 2nd century AD exposition in 20 books of the rules for accentuating Greek; an anthology of Byzantine legislation known as the Basilica; possible fragments of the lost 3rd c. Scythica (about the Goths etc) of Dexippus; and a new manuscript of Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ De cerimoniis.
It’s all extremely valuable stuff; but also very encouraging! We have the technology.
- J. Grusková, Further Steps in Revealing, Editing and Analysing Important Ancient Greek and Byzantine Texts Hidden in Palimpsests. Graecolatina et Orientalia 33-34 (2012) 69-82.↩