by ALANA BENNETT
The past few weeks seem to have provided a constant stream of new online and digital projects in the humanities: everything from databases, to reconstructions of historical sites, to the announcement by the Smithsonian museum that historical artefacts are being made available for 3D printing. This post will survey some recent projects in the area of medieval and early modern studies.
DigiPal: Digital Resource and Database of Palaeography, Manuscripts and Diplomatic
Based at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College, London, this new database focuses on English manuscripts from 1000-1100 and combines images of digitised manuscripts with detailed information about the scribal hands and the texts. Users can search the database for specific manuscripts or scribal hands and discover more about each text using annotations. According to the project website, DigiPal will later include “dynamic maps, timelines and image-processing.” The project certainly offers those interested in palaeography an exciting and informative way to explore manuscripts online.
Visit the DigiPal database here.
Off the Map Competition 2013
Game design students in the UK were challenged to recreate historical landscapes as animated 3D environments. The landscapes were sourced from maps, plans and engravings from the collections of the British Library. The overall winner was a particularly mesmerising tour through the Pudding Lane area in London (pre-Great Fire). Small touches like falling leaves, smoke over the city, seventeenth-century laundry and brief peeks into houses gave the area a new (animated) life.
The top entries can be viewed here.
Open Virtual Worlds: St Andrew’s Cathedral
Another project which utilises 3D video game technology is this reconstruction of the now-ruined St Andrews Cathedral in Scotland. The website allows the user to create an avatar and explore the cathedral and its contents as they were in 1318, the year the building was consecrated. You can even meet historical personas like Bishop William de Lamberton and Robert the Bruce.
You can take a virtual tour of St Andrew’s Cathedral here.
More projects by Open Virtual Worlds at St Andrews can be viewed here.
Opening the Geese Book
An international collaborative project that hosts the digitised facsimile of the ‘Geese Book’ (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, M. 905). Upon visiting the site, the viewer is spoiled with not only the facsimile of the two volumes, but performances of the chants preserved within it by the Scholar Hungarica, videos about the people who planned and made the book, a panoramic view of the church of St. Lorenz in Nuremberg, a video of the Geese Book in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, lists of sources relating to the book and the codicological description of the MS. The site is visually attractive as well as informative and the side-by-side view of the manuscript with the chants, their words and translations is particularly fascinating. Keep an eye out for the delightful marginal illustrations.
See the Geese Book here.
Happy browsing, dear reader! And, of course, many thanks to the members of the Ceræ committee who brought these projects to my attention.