DIGITISATION AND PRESERVATION OF THE MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
AT THE MONASTERY OF ST SAVIOUR IN OLD JERUSALEM
The project “Digitisation and Preservation of the Manuscript Collection at the Monastery of St Saviour in Old Jerusalem” has been completed (1 March 2016 - 31 August 2017). The project was conducted by Polish Institute of World Art Studies (grant holders: prof. Ewa Balicka-Witakowska - main; dr. Jacek Tomaszewski) and supported by Endangered Archives Programme, The British Library (grant reference no: EAP 823)
The objective of the project EAP823 was to digitise the full collection of manuscripts at the Franciscan monastery of St Saviour in the Old City of Jerusalem. The collection was estimated to contain over 500 codices, rolls and scrolls (circa 140000 pages), dating from the 12th to the 20th century and written in eight languages: Arabic, Armenian, Classical Ethiopic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Syriac and Turkish. It was decided that a special attention will be paid to the large group of liturgical manuscripts with musical notation, several of them richly decorated, illustrated and illuminated. The most important aim of the project was to make this extraordinary collection available to the international scholarship over the internet and through the wide distribution of DVD copies.
The project included three digitisation sessions lasting together 11 weeks (with Saturdays and Sundays as work-days). In connection to this part of the project the following was completed:
- The whole collection is looked through, reorganised and relocated.
- Several new manuscripts have been discovered and included to the collection.
- The manuscripts in particularly bad physical condition and excluded from digitisation are safe-guarded in special boxes.
- Prior to digitisation the conservator made small repairs of several manuscripts.
- Since the collection turned out to be much more extensive than anticipated in the project´s application, the selection of the manuscripts for digitisation within the reported project was done in agreement with the director of the library according following accepted criteria.
- At the final stage of the project the whole photo-material had been reviewed, checked and organized. Divided into 743 folders it contains 135769 TIFF-files and 1766 NEF/JPG files (close-ups and microscope photos) - total: 4,243612 TB.
- The data concerning each file is introduced to the excel-spreadsheets. Several new manuscripts became identified and supplied with appropriated catalogue data. It was also established that the manuscripts in the collection are noted not in eight but 17 languages: Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Classical Ethiopic, Coptic (Bohairic & Sahidic), English, French, Old German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Samaritan, Spanish, Syriac and Turkish.
Since the digitised material will be soon available online, the accessibility to some part of the collection will be limited, particularly to the manuscripts which are selected for conservation, the fragile illuminated books and the huge and heavy volumes difficult to move and handle.
In agreement to the project’s objectives 6 copies of the material are produced on HD. Besides the British Library and the Biblioteca Generale the following institutions are provided with the copies: Centro di Ricerca Europeo Libro Editoria Biblioteca, Milano, Università Cattolica; Istituto Biblico dell’Ateneo Antoniano, Rom; Centre of Christian Oriental Studies, Cairo, Muski Monastery (all three distributed via Biblioteca Generale); Library of the Higher Franciscan Seminary in Kraków (Poland) (distribution via project’s host: the Polish Institute of World Art Studies).