The University of Cambridge and the University of Heidelberg have announced a two-year, £1.6 million ($2.1 million) project to digitize more than eight hundred medieval and early modern Greek manuscripts.
Funded by the London-based Polonsky Foundation, the archival project, a collaborative effort between Cambridge University Library, twelve Cambridge colleges, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Heidelberg University Library, and the Vatican Library, aims to digitize every medieval Greek manuscript in Cambridge as well as those belonging to the Bibliotheca Palatina collection, which is split between the University of Heidelberg and the Vatican. Materials in the collections feature the works of Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, and Euripides and include classical texts as well as important treatises on religion, mathematics, history, drama, and philosophy. The most current catalogues of the collections date from the nineteenth century, and the fragile condition of the texts poses significant challenges to archivists. Once digitized, the collection will be hosted and made widely available on the websites of the Cambridge Digital Library and Heidelberg Digital Library.
"The Cambridge and Heidelberg collections bear witness to the enduring legacy of Greek culture — classical and Byzantine — and the lasting importance of Greek scholarship," said Suzanne Paul, keeper of rare books and early manuscripts at Cambridge University Library. "The works of Homer and Plato were copied and recopied throughout the medieval period, and the early biblical and liturgical manuscripts are profoundly important for our understanding of a Christian culture based on the written word. These multilingual, multicultural, multifarious works that cross borders, disciplines, and the centuries testify to a deep scholarly engagement with Greek texts and Greek culture that both universities are committed to upholding."