manuscript lab

Typology, Classification

Case Study: Hebrew Manuscripts

In contrast with the enormous number of Latin and Greek manuscripts, Hebrew codices of known date and provenience present a rather compact and manageable body that has been codicologically well studied (Beit Arie 2014). The Jewish Diaspora in Europe and the Middle East led to the production of distinct geo-cultural traditions that could be roughly classified as Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Italian, Byzantine, Oriental, and Yemeni according to the areas of residence. Given this geo-cultural differentiation, it is worthwhile to check whether the Jewish scribes were using local writing materials to produce their manuscripts. Indeed, the first typological studies of inks in some 30 Hebrew manuscripts show that iron gall inks were found in Ashkenazi, Italian, Oriental, and Yemenite ones in accordance with the inks used by the non-Jewish local communities. (Rabin et al., 2014 MC6)

Ink type as determined by reflectography

Iron gall ink changes its opacity in near-infrared light as compared with that of the visible part of the spectrum. The color of carbon inks remains constant.