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St. Mary's University (San Antonio, TX 78228-5433)
Todd Russell Hanneken (Project Director: February 2016 to November 2021)

Digital Humanities Implementation Grants
Digital Humanities

[White paper][Grant products][Media coverage]

$325,000 (approved)
$325,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2019

The Jubilees Palimpsest Project: Spectral RTI Technology for the Recovery of Erased Manuscripts from Antiquity

Digitization of the Jubilees Palimpsest, a manuscript containing multiple texts relevant to the history of Judaism and early Christianity, using advanced imaging techniques. The project would result in online publication of the manuscript and release of open-source software to support image processing in future work.

This full-scale project phase will refine for widespread adoption the Spectral RTI technology tested in the start-up phase. Spectral RTI recovers text from erased manuscripts (palimpsests) by integrating spectral imaging’s ability to recover illegible markings with the ability of Reflectance Transformation Imaging to capture texture as fine as the corrosion of parchment where acidic ink had once been. The project will create a showcase of the technology using illegible artifacts with high humanities significance from the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. It will be published in a standards-compliant open repository. The artifacts will include at minimum the one-of-a-kind erased texts of Latin Jubilees, the Testament of Moses, and the Arian Commentary on Luke, each of which casts light on lost forms of Judaism and Christianity from 2100–1500 years ago. The project will streamline the procedure and publish instructions and user-friendly software to help future teams apply the technology.