conference registration

Manuscripts and Epigraphy

Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Hamburg
14 - 16 November 2013


In order to establish manuscriptology as a discipline of manuscript studies it is necessary to clarify the concept of manuscript. The Conference in particular aims to focus on this clarification and will therefore discuss the relationship between manuscripts and epigraphy, which is particularly insightful for this purpose. Manuscripts, including the texts, illustrations, notes, or other signs contained in them, are to be distinguished from other means of recording and transmitting information, particularly from other media of literacy. Regarding manuscripts and epigraphy, it will not be possible to begin with clear-cut definitions; rather, blurred boundaries and overlaps have to be expected, not least because the concept of epigraphy is neither homogenous nor uncontroversial.

When examining the types and amounts of text found in epigraphy and manuscripts, one will immediately discover great differences between these two writing supports. Therefore, detailed comparative analyses of the conventions are desirable, which stipulate particular types, sizes and arrangements of signs for different types of inscriptions and texts contained in manuscripts, and which are reflected in an intentionally planned layout. Additionally, a more or less spontaneous use of letters and signs has to be taken into account, as, for instance, is the case with annotations or graffiti. Furthermore, it is to be examined how reliable a distinction according to the producers of these types of writings is, as suggested at times, who sometimes are considered to belong to an artisanal circle or, at other times, to a scriptorium or chancellery.

Thus the basic material conditions of epigraphy and manuscript are addressed as well. Whether or not the distinction between ‘soft’ materials for manuscripts and ‘hard’ materials for epigraphy, as has been suggested, is feasible should be examined in the light of clay and bamboo manuscripts or epigraphic evidence found on textile or leather. Furthermore, it is to be asked whether the category of durability derived from the attribution to a certain material may be exclusively ascribed to inscriptions. Also, the differentiation between stationary and transportable use, which can be deduced from the difference between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ materials, does not seem to apply without limitation.

Finally, the transfer from inscription to manuscript (and vice versa?) will be addressed which can be found, for example, when specific epigraphic conventions are being included in manuscripts, for instance text pages appearing in epigraphic mode. Illustrations and image sequences can also be accompanied, supplemented, or explained by inscriptions and, last but not least, the visual representation of real inscriptions should be mentioned in this context.

The Conference will be organized in four panels by four members of CSMC:

Material I (stone) – Michael Friedrich
Material II (others) – Jörg B. Quenzer
Script – Christian Brockmann
Image – Bruno Reudenbach

Programme and Abstracts

Click to download the conference programme (updated 21.10.2013) and the abstracts (updated 01.11.2013)


The conference will be held at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Warburgstraße 26, Hamburg, Germany. How to find us


Participation in the conference is free of charge and vistors are welcome.
You may find the Hamburg Tourismus site useful for finding a suitable accommodation.
For more information please contact us.