First Edition. octavo, pictorial wrappers. vi, 155 pp. Brepols, New. Item #26252
Palimpsests are texts from which the primary text has been effaced to make room for fresh writing. The practice was particularly important in the early Middle Ages, when numerous, often precious, books were subjected to this treatment. As a result, many ancient texts lay hidden in European libraries for centuries. Ever since the first palimpsests were discovered in the seventeenth century, scholars have been fascinated by the possibility of discovering hitherto unknown texts. For a long time, the lower script of palimpsests could only be brought back to the light of day through the use of chemical reagents that proved very detrimental to the manuscripts. The great advance away from these destructive techniques came at the beginning of the twentieth century with the application of ultra-violet photography. Today, striking advances in this field are again being made with the development of digital imaging. The contributions in this volume focus mainly on the cultural evidence offered by palimpsests from the early Middle Ages. Some contributors have examined particular manuscripts in great detail (the London palimpsest of Jerome's Chronicle or the Munich palimpsest codex from Benediktbeuern); others have looked at specific types of texts that have suffered deletion in this way (liturgical palimpsests, Carolingian letters). The volume also contains a handlist of all known palimpsested manuscripts in Beneventan script. New.