About the Event
Join us for Lunch and Learn with Michael Phelps, founding director of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL), as he discusses the methods, discoveries, and impact of recovering texts in one of the world’s oldest libraries.
Saint Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai, Egypt, preserves a manuscript library that is both one of the world’s oldest libraries and one of the most important for the history of the New Testament. Among its treasures are more than 180 palimpsest manuscripts. Palimpsests are recycled manuscripts, created when a scribe erases an older manuscript to reuse its parchment for a new one. From 2011 to 2016, an international team collaborated with the monastery to use multispectral imaging to recover erased texts from its palimpsests. The project recovered 305 texts dating from the fifth to the twelfth century, including ancient biblical texts in eight languages.
Museum of the Bible’s Lunch and Learn programs are one-hour conversations held on the last Wednesday of each month with a curator or outside speaker discussing popular and relevant topics.
Michael Phelps is founding director of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, a non-profit organization that uses digital technologies to recover, preserve, and provide access to cultural heritage, especially ancient and medieval manuscripts. He is director of two major projects with Saint Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai. From 2011–2016, he directed the Sinai Palimpsests Project, which used spectral imaging to recover erased texts from palimpsests in the monastery library. He now directs the Sinai Library Digitization Project, a 10-year effort to digitize the monastery’s extensive manuscript library. Phelps has also led projects to use spectral imaging to recover erased or obscured writing on manuscripts at Museum of the Bible, the Vatican Library, the Austrian National Library, Cambridge University Library, the Berlin State Library, and the Ambrosiana Library.