The Corpus Coranicum is a long-standing research project at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, under the direction of Prof. Angelika Neuwirth, established in 2007 and currently funded through 2025. Its ultimate goal is the production of a comprehensive commentary on the Qur’an, based on both the textual tradition, especially early manuscripts, and literary passages, including biblical traditions, which shed light on the context of its production. A beta version of the online commentary is now available. One can browse by sura and verse (displayed with a special font, “Coranica”), exploring a facsimile of the associated page(s) in the 1924 Cairo print edition; scanned black-and-white photographs of the associated page(s) in early manuscripts from the archive of G. Bergsträßer, assembled in the 1920s, lost, and sensationally rediscovered in 2008; variant readings; “Texte aus der Umwelt des Korans,” most frequently from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament (the latter given in Greek, not Syriac); and an associated commentary. Of course, this magisterial project is also a massive undertaking, and the final two sections are only available for certain verses. The “Texte aus der Umwelt,” in particular, is a wide-open field, and is currently the subject of intensive research, as evidenced especially by the recent creation of IQSA. As Qur’anic studies rapidly develops, there is no question that Corpus Coranicum will be an essential resource.
The British Library, which labels itself “The World’s Knowledge” with some justification, has a large collection of ancient manuscripts in diverse languages and media, probably the most impressive in the world. Less well known, perhaps, is its outstanding blog, which includes both reflections on collection items as well as entries on newly digitized texts, including the Egerton Gospel and Codex Alexandrinus. The latter has a great entry on the conservation process, as does the entry on “Some Syriac Manichaean Treasures in the British Library.” Ephrem’s otherwise lost Prose Refutations of Mani, Marcion, and Bardaisan, preserved as a palimpsest on Add. 14623 was recovered by Charles Mitchell, with the help of a certain “re-agent” at the turn of the century. The nature of this unidentified chemical is discussed, along with the eminent possibilities for reading the earlier text with the help of advanced digital photography. This wonderful post explores other significant holdings on Manichaeism, such as the Chinese Compendium on the Teachings of Mani, the Buddha of Light.
This database of magical gems, named after Campbell-Bonner’s famous collection of 1954, is in fact far more extensive, containing over 1,000 items. These are drawn from over 30 collections, including the British Museum, and the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts, which is curating the website with the University of Fribourg, under the direction of an international editorial board. According to the site, the database, which is currently expanding, contains “a fourth of the known corpus of magical gems.” Its search functions allow the user to browse the gems by collection, material, place of discovery (only a few of which are known), iconographical schemes and elements, vocabulary (gem inscriptions in Greek and Latin), names, voces magicae, Logoi, and Characteres. The entries themselves contain this information, when available, along with digital images of the gems; these can even be sent as electronic postcards! There is a small glossary and bibliography, which has the helpful feature of noting the gems referred to in each entry. Clearly this is a major resource, which will become even more important as the site grows.
The Iranian texts discovered at the beginning of the 20th-century during the German excavations of the Turfan oasis constitute a major source for modern scholarship on Manichaeism; like the Nag Hammadi Library, they provide an important corrective to the exclusively polemical accounts that had survived the manuscript transmission. The numerous textual fragments have been patiently published over the past century by a number of scholars, and this critical project is still ongoing.
The Turfanforschung group at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften has published to the web the Digitales Turfan-Archiv, which includes a variety of literature from the Turfan oasis, including “Texte in Manichäischer Schrift,” in the Parthian and Middle Persian languages, as well as some in Old Turkic. This section contains high-resolution images of basically the entire run of texts in Manichaean script, more than 9,200 fragments, catalogued according to the more recent “M” categorization cited in contemporary scholarship (from Mary Boyce’s A Catalogue of the Iranian Manuscripts in Manichaean Script in the German Turfan Collection [Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 1960]); the glass plates show the former “T” categorization:
The Middle Persian and Parthian eTexts for many of these documents is available from TITUS at the University of Frankfurt:
The Virtual Magic Bowl Archive is a collaborative environment for the publication of magic bowls in the Moussaieff, Dehays, and Barakat collections. It is housed at the University of Southampton, under the direction of Dr. Dan Levene, with a number of other prominent collaborators in Europe, Israel, and North America. While the archive, which includes photographs and transcriptions, currently has restricted access, The VMBA site contains several useful resources and descriptions of ongoing projects. These include the Aramaic Magical Texts from Late Antiquity (AMTLA), a BIRAX project conducted by Dr. Dan Levene and Prof. Gideon Bohak, part of which is the valuable prosopography of the Babylonian Magic Bowls, compiled by Dr. Ortal-Paz Saar of Tel Aviv University Continue reading
This fascinating and innovative project seeks to give users the experience of how statues (and their inscribed bases) constituted a collective memory among those who participated in the ritual space of the Late-Antique Roman Forum. The PI of “Visualizing Statues” is Diana Favro of UCLA, with Chris Johanson as CI and Gregor Kalas as Fellow; it was developed in UCLA’s Experiental Technologies Center, with the support of the NEH. The site is a model for a smooth interface between 3-d visualization of ancient monuments in their spatial context; 2-d plans of urban spaces; material culture, including statues bases with inscriptions; a timeline, between 284 and 526 CE; and even literary sources, namely Claudian’s portrait of the emperor Honorius’s Consular Procession in 404 CE, a compelling description of Late-Antique imperial ceremony used as a textual basis for framing the experience of the online audience. Continue reading
Vetus Latina Iohannes, also known as the Verbum Project, is an online, electronic critical edition of the Old Latin Gospel of John from the manuscripts (Patristic citations are not included at this point); it is one of the earliest online DH projects within early Christian studies, founded in 2002. The Verbum Project is housed at the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing, under the direction of David Parker. Each of the manuscript witnesses is described, including previous editions and reproductions consulted, as well as notes on the features recorded in the Verbum Project’s transcription. The edition, which is powered by Peter Robinson’s COLLATE software, can be viewed as a synopsis of all manuscript witnesses for a particular verse, or as continuous text from a given manuscript (and optionally, according to page format, which includes features such indentation, justified texts, the obeloi and other marks).
Transcription for Paleographical and Editorial Notation, or “T-Pen,” developed at the Center for Digital Theology of Saint Louis University, is a tool for the transcription and annotation of manuscripts, through their digital images, to which they are linked on a line-by-line basis; it is currently in its beta version, and will continue to add features. By signing up, one can make transcriptions from the numerous manuscripts and notebooks made available by libraries, some of which contain texts from Late Antiquity (i.e., the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, is associated with T-Pen); transcriptions can be exported as a .pdf or XML, but not, apparently, to editorial software (such as Classical Text Editor). Continue reading
As museums digitize their collections, institutional stewards of excavation records are also slowly moving them online, as part of a much broader effort within archaeology to effectively manage and publish data. For Late Antique archaeology, a major initial step has been taken with the publication of photographs from the excavations at Antioch-ad-Orontes (and its suburb, Daphne), under the general direction of Charles Rufus Morey, Chair of Princeton’s Department of Art and Archaeology, between 1932 and 1939. Continue reading
The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, like many institutions with important manuscripts, is digitizing their collection; a Preservation and Access grant from the NEH is supporting the creation of images for their Byzantine, Armenian, and Ethiopian holdings. The Walters Art Museum’s approach, however, is multi-faceted: one can flip through “digital surrogates” of select manuscripts, especially in the Islamic collection, including this copy of the Shahname; or download digital images of others, such as this Syriac Galen, on a different site. Most innovative, perhaps, is their creation of a Flickr stream with images from their archiving project, which may indeed be an effective way to have these manuscripts reach a broader audience. Continue reading