2016-07-21

Vatican Shadows

A couple of days ago, the Vatican library opened free online access to hi-res photos of what is generally believed to be one of the oldest books in the world, P75, the remains of a papyrus book of the Christian Gospels in Greek that is commonly dated to the third century. That turned out to be the story of the year on this blog, with over 900 reads, 85 retweets and 7,500 Twitter impressions.

[The next two grafs have been revised, after I realized that I had posted on the same topic in January this year, and clean forgot.] P75 got me interested in the library's other Bodmer papyrus, donated to it in 1969, the famous P72, shelved as Pap.Bodmer.VIII. The new digital site neither indexes nor mentions it on the front page of the digital manuscripts site.

The old BAV portal's link still gives you access to Pap.Bodmer.VIII, a booklet of epistles, containing all the text of 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude. [This link I am giving you is not a secret, but rather one forgotten by the designers of the new portal. My apologies for overstating the case, when I first put this post up and claimed I had "discovered" the link.]

The writing on the P72 papyrus is thought to date to the 3rd or 4th century, roughly of the same period as the Codex Vaticanus, probably the world's oldest intact parchment codex.

The Wikipedia entry notes that P72 was dismembered from the "Bodmer Miscellaneous Codex," a little book dug from the sands of Egypt in which other works were: Nativity of Mary, the apocryphal correspondence of Paul to the Corinthians, the Eleventh Ode of Solomon, Melito's Homily on the Passover, a fragment of a hymn, the Apology of Phileas, and Psalm 33 and 34.

We don't know if  P72, where you can see the folds in the folios, is the oldest papyrus codex in existence, but Brent Nongbri, the Australian scholar, has recently argued: "It would seem that P.Bodm. VIII had a previous life, in which it preceded another work that was later removed when P.Bodm. VIII became part of the ‘Miscellaneous’ or ‘Composite’ codex." So it could be years or decades older than other parts of the codex.

You can read his short paper on his Academia.edu page, as well as a blog post he wrote.

As for P75 (the gospels), its date of making has long been estimated to be the 3rd century, but Nongbri published a critique this year in the Journal of Biblical Literature where he argued that this date is slapdash (my word, not his) and that the correct date is more likely to be 4th century, more or less of the same period as the Codex Vaticanus. I'll have more as the story continues.

Aside from all this excitement, the BAV has this week released an additional 34 items. Here is the full list:
  1. Vat.ebr.32,  - Details
  2. Vat.ebr.33, - Details
  3. Vat.ebr.230, - Details
  4. Vat.ebr.250, - Details
  5. Vat.ebr.270.pt.1, - Details
  6. Vat.ebr.270.pt.2 - Details
  7. Vat.ebr.271 - Details
  8. Vat.ebr.283 - Details
  9. Vat.ebr.286 - Details
  10. Vat.ebr.289 - Details
  11. Vat.ebr.296 - Details
  12. Vat.lat.276 - a 12th-century Augustine in Caroline minuscule with some Beneventan script on fols 258v-260v (my thanks to AaronM on Twitter for this info: https://twitter.com/gundormr/status/756196478452924416), Details
  13. Vat.lat.288 - Ambrose of Milan, Details
  14. Vat.lat.295 - Ambrose, Details
  15. Vat.lat.296 - a 10th-century Ambrose, Details
  16. Vat.lat.373 - made for the Renaissance bishop Pietro del Monte (c. 1400–57), from fol 111 he added the prologue to his Repertorium utriusque iuris, a major legal text - Details
  17. Vat.lat.650 - a 10th-century compilation with Alcuin and others, many very faint pages have also been scanned with what seems to be ultraviolet light. Details
  18. Vat.lat.674 - 14th century theological and scientific: here are some shape diagrams in the margin in a geometrical piece (140v, rotated):
      second half empty, Details
  19. Vat.lat.740 - Aquinas, Details
  20. Vat.lat.773 - Details
  21. Vat.lat.775 - Details
  22. Vat.lat.778 - Details
  23. Vat.lat.779 - Details
  24. Vat.lat.786 - Details
  25. Vat.lat.789 - Details
  26. Vat.lat.813 - Details
  27. Vat.lat.819 - Details
  28. Vat.lat.834 - Giles of Rome, Quaestiones, Details
  29. Vat.lat.836 - Giles of Rome, c. 1243-1316, Commentarius in librum II Sententiarum, Details
  30. Vat.lat.837 - ditto, Details
  31. Vat.lat.852 - Details
  32. Vat.lat.866 - Details
  33. Vat.lat.875 , Details,
  34. Vat.lat.14747 , an 18th century fair copy cataloguing the authors in the papal collection of printed books, the seventh volume, arranged by names, S-Z. Here is the pen drawing for S:
This is Piggin's Unofficial List 61. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to Digita Vaticana.

2016-07-18

Maybe This Is the Oldest Book

Over a year ago, we debated on this blog and on Twitter what was the oldest bound book in the work. See the first post: Is this the world's oldest bound book? and the second post: Older than the Oldest.

Some authoritative experts said the crown should not go to the Codex Vaticanus, a parchment bible which is still bound, but to the 102 battered and now separated pages of Pap.Hanna (the sole Hanna Papyrus), also known as P75, which is a little 3rd-century booklet containing most of the Gospels of Luke and John.


On July 18, all the extant pages of this booklet were placed online by the digitization program at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome.

It's a battered little papyrus book from Egypt, originally sewn together in a codex and now kept between sheets of glass. This is among the most famous of the so-called Bodmer Papyri discovered in Egypt in 1952 and is an important source of the gospels within 200 years of their composition. It also contains an early Christian "brand logo", the Tau-Rho symbol or staurogram.

In all, 50 new items were placed online in this summer batch. Here is my full unofficial list:
  1. Cappon.229
  2. Cappon.297 
  3. Pap.Hanna (the bibliography page for this item still uses the former shelfmark, Pap.Bodmer.XIV-XV).
  4. Vat.ebr.25
  5. Vat.ebr.26
  6. Vat.ebr.27
  7. Vat.ebr.28
  8. Vat.ebr.30
  9. Vat.ebr.31
  10. Vat.ebr.214
  11. Vat.ebr.215
  12. Vat.ebr.220
  13. Vat.ebr.221
  14. Vat.ebr.222
  15. Vat.ebr.223
  16. Vat.ebr.225
  17. Vat.ebr.229
  18. Vat.ebr.232
  19. Vat.ebr.234
  20. Vat.ebr.235
  21. Vat.ebr.236
  22. Vat.ebr.239
  23. Vat.ebr.241
  24. Vat.ebr.242
  25. Vat.ebr.244
  26. Vat.ebr.247
  27. Vat.ebr.249
  28. Vat.ebr.252
  29. Vat.ebr.257
  30. Vat.ebr.260
  31. Vat.ebr.261
  32. Vat.ebr.262
  33. Vat.ebr.265
  34. Vat.ebr.266
  35. Vat.ebr.267
  36. Vat.ebr.268
  37. Vat.ebr.273
  38. Vat.ebr.275
  39. Vat.ebr.277
  40. Vat.ebr.279
  41. Vat.ebr.284
  42. Vat.ebr.285
  43. Vat.ebr.290
  44. Vat.ebr.292
  45. Vat.ebr.293
  46. Vat.ebr.295
  47. Vat.ebr.298
  48. Vat.ebr.299
  49. Vat.ebr.303
  50. Vat.lat.9973

This is Piggin's Unofficial List (PUL) number 60. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to Digita Vaticana.

2016-07-17

World's Top Jobs Predictor

Germany's Labour Agency believes it has the most fine-grained statistics on labour in the world, illustrating place by place throughout the country many things you thought you knew, but couldn't quite prove to your kids, such as how poor educational performance correlates with unemployment.

It has now thrown this data storehouse open to the public using dynamic data visualization tools, and the displays are impressive and amazing. Here for for example is a graph where lack of a high-school leaving certificate (X axis) is correlated with regional unemployment (Y axis) whereby circle size represents city or county population and circle colour represents alphabetical order of state name (from blue (B) to red (T), which is about the dumbest thing I can find in this intelligent package).
The image above is from a page compiled on the fly. You can alter all four of those axes to other data streams to correlate whatever you please. There's even a slider to go back in time. This is an amazing and impressive demonstration of data visualization for everyman.

According to a report by Klaus Tscharnke of dpa (in German only), the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Federal Labour Agency) which operates the nation's labour exchanges purchased a Google Analytics package to visualize its database in this way. That explains why the URLs are in English, which is handy since there is no English version of the data controls themselves.

What does the above graph illustrate? Look at the two biggish blue discs at top right: one represents central Berlin and the other the adjacent Neukölln region of the capital. They have enormous school dropout rates and huge heavily frequented labour offices where people apply for the dole. If you have been a tourist in Berlin, you have perhaps noticed the poverty amid the glamour.

The discs do bunch themselves along a diagonal line. At far left on the graph are Bavarian cities like Regensburg, where only 2.7 per cent of the working population failed to complete high school, and only 2.4 per cent are unemployed. That does strongly suggest a correlation that's not just true in Germany, but worldwide. Show it to your kids.

2016-07-08

What's It About?

I get asked: what's your book's title, and what's it about?

The working title is: Expositor. The project investigates the world's oldest information visualization, a 3-metre tree diagram drawn up in the Roman Empire. This chart in Latin which sets out biblical genealogies from Adam to Jesus, intertwined with threads of Jewish political history, has been hidden in plain sight for centuries and has never been examined at book length before.

The original chart is now lost, but medieval copies allow us to reconstruct how this diagram might have looked. Its historic title is unknown, so it is nowadays code-named the "Great Stemma" (GS). You can see a provisional reconstruction of it online on my website, which serves as a long-term data-dump for my research (and is not especially easy to read).

The book will a good read. Using a narrative in the style of a documentary film, Expositor meets with investigators, proceeds from clue to clue, skirts dead ends, and climaxes at a solution which reveals  the origin of the GS. As the story unfolds, it emerges that the chart is five centuries older than previously thought, probably drawn with disciplined skill and careful design in about 420 AD.

Expositor will propose that the GS was inspired not by maps or geometry, but by board games and the abacus, and relates how it was the progenitor of a 16th-century craze for genealogy as well as a remarkable Chinese chart, along with all our modern trees, timelines and mind-maps. The book culminates in a discussion of what it means to visualize information.

The Roman-era chart effectively invented a new technology, leading up to the graphic user interface used in every touch-screen today. I argue that diagrams and visual displays exploit the computing power of human vision to short-cut reasoning tasks. Cognitive science is only now able to grasp what a major shift in human culture this was. My research places that shift in the ancient world.

Michel and Marianne

A scala in Latin is a ladder. The German artist who drew the infographic below in 1965 must have had an education in the classics, because a ladder was the figure he chose as a matter of reflex to compare factory pay-scales around the globe.The dpa-infografik company recently re-issued it to mark its 70th anniversary in business.

-- dpa-infografik GmbH

As an information visualization this is fairly simple, setting up the vertical scale and scattering the data loosely to draw the reader in. The scattering is an early version of a technique known as the jitterplot, which is handily explained in this infographic from @joemako

These numbers are an education in what has changed in the world. Back then, US factory workers had the "good jobs" that have now been destroyed by Washington's economic policies. Curiously, German workers earned only half as much. I was surprised to see New Zealand workers were so high up. New Zealand did not feel particularly prosperous in those times. It was hard to buy quality goods. Availability of everything from cars to shoes was limited by a legal regime called import licensing.
Still, the numbers here supposedly factor all that in, comparing hourly rates of pay, converted to Deutschmarks and adjusting for differences in purchasing power. A US worker got 8.70 DM and an Indian worker 0.51 DM per hour.

The figures are types: Uncle Sam, a RCMP mountie, an English trawlerman, the typical German Deutscher Michel, an Austrian in gamsbart hat, a shapely French Marianne, an Argentinian gaucho, a Japanese salaryman, a Yugoslav miner and an Indian porter. In those days it was thought clever, not racist, to depict people by stereotype.

2016-07-07

Imperial Handbook

Among the most precious documents to survive from late antiquity is the Notitia Dignitatum, a handbook to the Roman Empire's civil government and military structures as of about 400 CE.

It survived in a book known as the Codex Spirensis which vanished before 1672, but was copied out half a dozen times by interested readers. One of those copies, the Vatican's arrived online on July 7 and this is a major event for anyone interested in this extraordinary sourcebook. Dr Ingo Maier, who has spent many years studying the handbook, has a website devoted to many of its details.

Fairley's English partial translation of the text (1899) is online at Fordham. Online, you can compare the Vatican copy, Barb.lat.157 with three other online copies: the two in clm10291 in Munich and that in BNF lat. 9961 in Paris (jump to fol. 72r to begin reading the latter). As far as I know, the Trent codex is not online and from the Oxford codex, only the pictures are on the internet.

Below is the Vatican codex's copy of the Provincia Dalmatiae page, compared to the W copy (Munich) below it. It is plain that the Vatican copy is more fanciful and that the artist has willfully converted the town into an early modern one.
However the other manuscripts are hardly more accurate, as you will see from the Luke Ueda-Sarson Praeses Dalmatiae (i.e. Governor of Dalmatia) composite page. Many of the images, including the specific shields of the military units, require considerable expert interpretation to understand.
Even this figure of a coach and horses needs interpreting:


My especial personal interest in the Notitia is that the Codex Spirensis also preserved a major Roman legal diagram which acquired the medieval name arbor juris or arbor consanguinatis and which is among the important classical precursors to the invention of information visualization in late antiquity:

Here is the full list of 38 uploads by Digita Vaticana on July 7 bringing the posted total to 4,794
  1. Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.F.28 - Details
  2. Barb.lat.157 - Notitia Dignitatum (above) - Details
  3. Borg.copt.109.cass.XVIII.fasc.64 - Details
  4. Capp.Giulia.XVI.16 - Details
  5. Chig.H.VI.188 - Details
  6. Ott.lat.1190 - Details
  7. Vat.gr.186 - Details
  8. Vat.lat.401 - Details
  9. Vat.lat.424 - Details
  10. Vat.lat.466 - Details
  11. Vat.lat.534 - Details
  12. Vat.lat.724 - Details
  13. Vat.lat.751 - Details
  14. Vat.lat.762 - Details
  15. Vat.lat.764 - Details
  16. Vat.lat.769 - Details
  17. Vat.lat.774 - Details
  18. Vat.lat.777 - Details
  19. Vat.lat.798 - Details
  20. Vat.lat.799 - Details
  21. Vat.lat.800 - Details
  22. Vat.lat.801 - Details
  23. Vat.lat.802 - Details
  24. Vat.lat.805 - Details
  25. Vat.lat.806 - Details
  26. Vat.lat.810 - Details
  27. Vat.lat.811 - Details
  28. Vat.lat.816 - Details
  29. Vat.lat.817 - Details
  30. Vat.lat.824 - Details
  31. Vat.lat.825 - Details
  32. Vat.lat.830, Details,
  33. Vat.lat.839, Details,
  34. Vat.lat.842, Details,
  35. Vat.lat.843, Details,
  36. Vat.lat.11543, Details,
  37. Vat.lat.12939, Details,
This is Piggin's Unofficial List 59. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to Digita Vaticana.

2016-07-06

Romantic Love

One might argue that western ideas of romantic love have their roots in certain ideas of the Renaissance, when the Roman poet Ovid was re-interpreted through a Christian lens and seen as a harbinger of courtly and noble love. In fact, Ovid was probably just a Boris Johnson of ancient Rome, a public school cad with a gift for words, and not a person particularly worth following.

The Vatican Library has just digitized an Epistulae of Ovid drawn ca. 1430-1440, possibly in northern Italy, which depicts in its margins ten pairs of lovers framing the start of each letter (see article by Rabel).

Leaf through Ross.893 to see them. Here for example is Leander of Abydos clutching the M of "Mittit Abydenus ..." like a shield as he writes in Heroides Letter 18 of his desire to swim long distance to see his girlfriend:
You can also admire him wearing a most extraordinary Italian Renaissance high hat as letter 19 arrives by return of post from lovely Hero:
Here is the full list of 32 digitizations uploaded on July 5, 2016:
  1. Borg.copt.109.cass.IX.fasc.29 - Details
  2. Borg.copt.109.cass.XIX.fasc.71 - Details
  3. Borg.copt.109.cass.XIX.fasc.74 - Details
  4. Borg.copt.109.cass.XVII.fasc.62 - Details
  5. Borg.copt.109.cass.XVII.fasc.63 - biblical fragments including a page of Luke's Gospel - Details
  6. Borg.copt.109.cass.XVIII.fasc.65.1 - Details
  7. Borg.copt.109.cass.XVIII.fasc.66 - Details
  8. Borg.copt.109.cass.XVIII.fasc.67 - Details
  9. Borg.copt.109.cass.XVIII.fasc.68 - Details
  10. Chig.H.VII.229 - Horace - Details
  11. Ott.lat.3382 -historical? Armenia and Persia - Details
  12. Ross.893 - Ovid, Epistulae (above) - Details
  13. Urb.lat.679 - Rambaldi's commentary on Dante's Divine Comedy Details
  14. Vat.lat.101 - glossed bible, later books Details
  15. Vat.lat.293 - Ambrose, Details
  16. Vat.lat.309 - John of Damascus, attrib. Details
  17. Vat.lat.310 - John of Damascus, Chrysostom, Anselm - Details
  18. Vat.lat.331 - Jerome on prophets, Details
  19. Vat.lat.351 - Collection of Epistulae, Details
  20. Vat.lat.652 - Johannes Scotus Eriugena and his famed exposition on the heavenly hierarchy, from which derives our modern use of "hierarchy" as a key abstraction - Details
  21. Vat.lat.669 - Bernard of Clairvaux, Details
  22. Vat.lat.687 - Augustine plus bits and bobs including this nifty circular calendar for 1401 onwards,
  23. Vat.lat.690 - Peter Lombard, Sententiae Details
  24. Vat.lat.699 - Psalms commentary attributed to Innocent III - Details
  25. Vat.lat.708 - Albertus Magnus, bishop Regensburg, Summae theologiae, Details
  26. Vat.lat.753 - Details
  27. Vat.lat.794 - 14th century copy of Thomas Aquinas commentary on gospels. It seems from notes in it that Bermond de Montferrier, a Montpellier law professor was involved in transferring the codex to a convent in that city. With fine initial (below) showing the angelic doctor - Details
  28. Vat.lat.812 - Franciscan sermons Details
  29. Vat.lat.828 - works of Aegidius Romanus Details
  30. Vat.lat.856 - Henry of Ghent, 15th century, first exemplar? Details
  31. Vat.lat.12504 - letters of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, humanist, diplomat and pope, Details
  32. Vat.lat.14741 - Giorgio Grippari's 1694 handwritten list of the printed books in the Biblioteca Vaticana. This is only initial letters A-B. Details
This is Piggin's Unofficial List 58. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to Digita Vaticana.