Manuscript Studies: Volume 7, Issue 1

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    The X-Ray Micro-CT of a Full Parchment Codex to Recover Hidden Text: Morgan Library M.910, an Early Coptic Acts of the Apostles Manuscript
    (2023-05-02) Dilley, Paul C.; Chapman, Christy; Parker, Clifford S.; Seales, W. Brent; Dilley, Paul C.; Chapman, Christy; Parker, Clifford S.; Seales, W. Brent
    This annotation describes the first effort to read inside a damaged codex using X-Ray micro-CT imaging, which has an additional complication beyond most unrolled scrolls, for which the process has been successful: there is writing on both sides. The project is a collaboration between a humanist, a team of computer scientists and engineers, as well as librarians and conservators, to undertake the x-ray micro-CT imaging of codex M.910, a fifth- or sixth-century parchment codex of Acts of the Apostles which is too damaged to open in its current state. The first round of image processing was conducted in December 2017 at the Morgan Library and Museum, and a second round in November 2019; work on restoring the text using machine learning is ongoing, and has already resulted in the identification of some words and phrases. We first describe codex M.910, including the basics of its codicology, and its potential significance for early Christian book culture, as well as the history of the biblical text. We then provide an overview of the manuscript imaging process, at a level of technical detail intended for a general audience, with the hope of providing a reference for future work in this expanding field of research. The key initial step was the preparation of the manuscript’s mount, which had to take into account the necessities of both conservation safety and micro-CT imaging. We also break down the imaging process itself, which was carried out by Skyscan micro-CT scanner, donated for use in this project by Micro Photonics. Finally, we give a brief discussion of the ongoing preliminary data analysis.