The imaging of the visual appearance of manuscripts for wide dissemination via the internet is now widely practiced and has dramatically changed the lives of manuscript scholars. Rather than having to travel to distant repositories of unique works, scholars may now study a variety of manuscripts while sitting in their offices. Valuable though this may be, further advances in imaging and computing technologies have also been applied to take an additional step: to recover writings from erased or otherwise damaged manuscripts that may have been thought lost or even whose existence was unsuspected. The proliferation of imaging systems and processing methods aimed at this goal has already begun and promises a deluge of new imagery to be interpreted.
This talk will touch upon a range of projects in this area, including studies of the Archimedes palimpsest, a Syriac palimpsest with a medical undertext, the David Livingstone 1871 field diaries, a manuscript damaged in the Dresden bombings, and the collection of palimpsests at St. Catherine’s Monastery. It will also introduce the “Lazarus project,” which seeks to involve undergraduates from a variety of disciplines and institutions in the collection and processing of the imagery.