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Rinascimento Virtuale

The Project

“Rinascimento virtuale - Digitale Palimpsestforschung. Rediscovering written records of a hidden European cultural heritage” is the name of a project the aim of which is the census, description, study and digital reproduction of Greek palimpsests, viz. those manuscripts containing texts written in Greek which have been produced by using ‘recycled’ parchment and which are extremely difficult to read.

The implementation of this project has been made possible by a three-year European co-financing (November 2001-October 2004) and by the efforts of 51 partners, viz. universities, research institutes, foundations and libraries belonging to 26 European countries, which are already members of the European Union or have applied for admittance to the Union, coordinated by Hamburg University.

The project is intended to reach specialists as well as the general public through great efforts in communication, education and training. Special attention is given also to the problems concerning the accessibility of the software used.

The aim of Rinascimento Virtuale is the recovery of classic or Byzantine texts lost when the parchment they were written upon was reutilised. Since the very first centuries of the Middle Ages it was normal to wash and scrape clean parchment folios containing texts which were not considered interesting in order to recuperate precious raw material which could be used once more. This washing /scraping process could also be repeated.

The layer or layers of script underneath the text now visible in a palimpsest manuscript are naturally quite difficult, if not impossible, to read by the naked eye and under a natural light. In order to recover these layers without running the risks caused by the invasive techniques adopted since the 19th century, Rinascimento Virtuale promotes their acquisition as multispectral digital images and the processing of the data obtained. Thus, the different layers of superimposed script are separated ‘virtually’ and brought back to life.

The images acquired and the data obtained by the examination of each item are filed in a database powered by the software Manus 4.0 and kept by the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico (ICCU). This database is freely accessible on the Internet.

This project has been carried out with the support of the European Community. The content of the project does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Community, or does it involve any responsability on the part of the European Community.