In the Name of the Rose: Searching for Unknown, Lost, and Forgotten Greek Manuscripts and Texts

Supported by the Spark programme of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

This one-year project (Feb 2020 – Jan 2021) is a search operation for unknown, lost, and forgotten Greek manuscripts and texts in the holdings of the largest repository of Greek and Byzantine manuscripts worldwide, the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in the Vatican City State. The idea of such a search operation is certainly not new. Still, the format, intensity and sys­tematic strategy of this project is unique especially for the digital era which allegedly makes such investigations redundant. However, several important features of manuscripts can only be seen and gathered by analysing the original object.

The search operation focuses on hitherto uncatalogued manuscripts that are for the better part barely known and/or studied. It will start with a series of 220 manuscripts of the Vaticani graeci collection which contain predominantly theological texts and have been identified as particu­larly promising objects of investigation. Altogether, presumably more than 260 manuscripts will be examined in the course of the funding period.

The quantity and relevance of the output of this research project is not predictable. The best-case scenario, and a real sensation, would be the discovery of an unknown or the rediscovery of an allegedly lost text or manuscript.

Beginning from April 2020 approximately, I will weekly report on new observations and findings on a blog. A two days’ international workshop in Rome scheduled for January 2021 will present the project findings and discuss their thematic contexts and backgrounds together with spe­cialists.

Project Leader