Repository logo
 

A biological reading of a palimpsest.

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Repository DOI


Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Viñas-Caron, Laura C 
Rodríguez Palomo, Ismael 
Fazlic, Natasha 
Vnouček, Jiří 
Driscoll, Matthew 

Abstract

In the Middle Ages, texts were recorded and preserved on parchment, an animal-derived material. When this resource was scarce, older manuscripts were sometimes recycled to write new manuscripts. In the process, the ancient text was erased, creating what is known as a palimpsest. Here, we explore the potential of peptide mass fingerprinting (PMF), widely applied to identify species, to help reconnect the dispersed leaves of a manuscript and reveal differences in parchment manufacturing. In combination with visual methods, we analyzed a whole palimpsest, the codex AM 795 4to from the Arnamagnæan Collection (Copenhagen, Denmark). We find that both sheep and goat skins were used in this manuscript, and that parchment differed in quality. Notably, the PMF analysis distinguished five groups of folios which match the visual groupings. We conclude that this detailed interrogation of a single mass spectrum can be a promising tool to understand how palimpsest manuscripts were constructed.

Description

Keywords

Archeology, Biological sciences, Paleobiology

Journal Title

iScience

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

2589-0042
2589-0042

Volume Title

26

Publisher

Elsevier BV
Sponsorship
European Research Council (787282)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (956410)