Multispectral Imaging of an Aramaic and Greek Palimpsest

Multispectral Imaging of an Aramaic and Greek Palimpsest

By Will Noel

Last year, Mike Toth of R.B. Toth Associates, in collaboration with the Digital Imaging Studio of Princeton University Library, captured multispectral images of Princeton University’s Garrett Ms. 24. This is a 10th-century Greek palimpsest, containing a number of Greek and Aramaic undertexts dating from the 6th century to the 9th. (Palimpsests were made by washing and recycling old parchment, a common practice given the costs of writing material.) It was described by Kotzabassi and Sevcenko in 2010. We imaged at least one leaf of each undertext identified (or not identified) by Kotzabassi and Sevcenko.

We have hosted the images in our online catalog.

The page might take a moment to fully load, but if you simply scroll down, the image viewer will appear, with the imaged folios listed on the left. Click on a folio and you will see cues for both narrow band images in wavelengths from ultraviolet through visible and into the infrared spectrum, and also post-processed images (to see the wavelength in the filename, click on the drop down menu at the top of the viewer box). There are about 30 images of each folio. To move from one to the other, either click on the thumbnail tab at the left under “Contents” to take your pick of the thumbnails, or click on the arrows that appear to the left and right of each image to go through them in order.

I’ve circulated these images to the scholarly community, and there is much excitement. It’s always fun to recover text obliterated a thousand years ago.  I’ll keep you posted on what we find, but if you read Christian Palestinian Aramaic, or classical Greek, you can have a crack yourself!