An album of Ragamala paintings at the Bodleian Library (Bodleian MS. Laud Or. 149) is a beautifully painted manuscript, dating from the early 17th century. Not long after it was produced, the volume was donated to the Bodleian by Archbishop William Laud, at some point between 1635-41.
It has been proposed that that three recently discovered paper pouncing patterns may have been used in the production of paintings in the manuscript. The patterns, which have subsequently been loaned to the Bodleian, are skilfully made. Tiny pin-pricks form the outline of illustrations which are clearly comparable with three of the paintings from the Ragamala Album.
Pouncing is a less obvious method of copying than pricking. Charcoal dust would have been transferred though the holes, duplicating the form of a design from pattern to page. Whether or not the three pouncing patterns were indeed the source of the paintings from the Bodleian’s 17th century volume remains somewhat of a mystery. In order to examine how closely the two align, the ARCHiOx team generated a set of renders from 3D recordings of the pouncing patterns and overlaid these with the colour images from the manuscript.
Though some elements within the designs differ, there is a clear and extremely close correlation between the patterns and paintings. 3D imaging of the paintings themselves show no evidence of holes or depressions due to tracing, only the layers of pigment which have been applied to the paper. Though the 3D recordings have not provided a definitive answer as to whether the patterns may be the origin of the paintings, it is hoped that they may serve as a template for similar analysis.
ARCHiOx is by no means the first technology to create facsimiles of ancient texts or images. The process of copying using pinholes is evident on the largest original which has so far been captured for the ARCHiOx project. Dating to the 14th century, the Gough Map is one of the earliest maps to show Great Britain in a geographically recognisable form and served as a blueprint for maps of Britain for over 150 years.
Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library by Richard Gough (1735-1809), the map is covered in over two-thousand tiny indentations which transferred the position and form of geographical features from a precursor map. Through studying these pinholes, researchers may be able to determine which features would have been present on the precursor map and in doing so, estimate when it may have been made.
This historic map has been recorded numerous times since its creation. It therefore serves as wonderful case-study in the development of copying and imaging techniques. A copper printing plate was engraved in 1780, prints from which are held in the Bodleian’s collections. Using a novel reproduction method developed at the Ordnance Survey, a photozincography recording was made in 1871. In 1958, a run of collotype prints of the Gough Map were made at Oxford University Press. The map was recorded digitally for the first time in 2006. Hyperspectral and 3D laser recordings followed nine years later, in 2015. These initial 3D recordings were conducted by the Factum Foundation’s Head of 3D scanning, Carlos Bayod.
“The recording carried out in 2015 applied the Lucida 3D Scanner to capture for the first time the topographical characteristics of this unique map. One of the first collaborations between the Bodleian Libraries and Factum Foundation, this survey allowed us to see and measure the shape and surface of the map without the colour layer, making it much easier to allocate the distribution of the pinholes, among other marks present on the relief. The information captured by the Lucida systems offers the possibility of visualizing the map’s surface on-screen as a shaded render, an image format onto which it is possible to register other layers of information such as the colour photographs. Additionally, it creates a greyscale depth map that can be used for re-materializing the data as an accurate physical reconstruction, becoming the base for creating an exact facsimile”. Carlos Bayod Lucini, Head of 3D Scanning, Factum Foundation
The photometric stereo captures made for ARCHiOx are the highest resolution recordings of the Gough Map to date. Both the front and reverse of the map were recorded at over 700,000 pixels per square inch. In order to record the map at this resolution, 85 image tiles were captured, processed and stitched together to form a single image. Prominent pinholes and scoring marks are clearly visible from the recordings. These have been analysed, using geographical information system software by Damien Bove, Researcher for The Gough Map Project and Picture Editor of Imago Mundi: International Journal for the History of Cartography
“The pricking on the Gough Map is key to its creation, marking the location and form of place signs copied through from a precursor map. Where the tool has been pressed through the skin, it has left holes. Most of these can be seen on high resolution photos and on the earlier Lucida scan. Where the tool was pressed with less force, however, it has left only small depressions. The ARCHiOx scan has allowed us to identify and measure these for the first time, giving us a fuller understanding of the earlier map.” Damien Bove, Researcher for The Gough Map Project and Picture Editor of Imago Mundi: International Journal for the History of Cartography.
But the ARCHiOx recording has not only allowed for on-screen analysis. The data has also been used to create a remarkably accurate three-dimensional facsimile of the map. Currently installed in the Bodleian’s Map Room, the facsimile provides an opportunity for close examination, ensuring that the original map need not be as frequently transported or removed from its protective casing.
“Facsimiles allow us to have a more natural connection with valuable cultural objects. Thanks to the possibility of reproducing the surface relief and colour in high resolution, a facsimile can serve a triple function contributing to the preservation, study, and dissemination of the original, for the benefit of both experts and amateurs alike”. Carlos Bayod Lucini, Head of 3D Scanning, Factum Foundation
A 9th century insular manuscript, Gregory the Great, Homiliae XL in evangelia. MS. Laud Misc. 429.
The above manuscript, Gregory the Great, Homiliae XL in evangelia, is written in Latin and dates to the first half of the 9th century. The 15th century shelfmark on folio 2, reveals that this volume was in the possession of the cathedral church of St. Kilian in Würzburg. Examples of annotations made not in ink, but through scratching the surface of the parchment using a drypoint stylus have now been discovered and recorded on twenty-five pages from this volume, using the Selene. The catalogue description for the recto of folio 74 shown in the image above, describes a drawing in the lower margin. A hunting scene, barely visible from the conventional photographic recording, but clear enough to make a partial digital annotation. Far more successful at revealing the inscription, the 3D render shows not only the illustration, but also four camouflaged letters, R, O, D, A. This demonstrates how 3D recording can compliment traditional imaging in revealing and documenting new discoveries.
The drypoint annotations recorded on folio 60r, in the image below, are inconsistent with the majority of others from this manuscript. These have been added between passages of text rather than confined to the margins. In this example, relatively deep incisions have been made, marking the position of punctuation. Far less obvious and perhaps only recognisable from the 3D render is a small, marginal illustration showing two hands, tied together with a bow.
In order to determine whether or how this annotation might relate to the text, the image above was shared with Jo Story, Professor of Early Medieval History, Leicester University. Her interpretation reveals a clear link between annotation and text. The text from this homily describes the stoning of Stephen. The translation of folio 60r begins ‘when Stephen was dying for his faith, Saul kept the clothes of the stoners. Therefore, he himself stoned them all with his own hands, who returned all the works to the stoners.’ The connection between inscription and text is most evident from the passage at the end of the fourth line ‘Duo ergo sunt que’ –‘because many are called but few are chosen’ – Chapter 22:14 from the Gospel of Matthew. This passage immediately follows the verse ‘Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Dozens of similar recordings of unlinked manuscript annotations have now been captured using ARCHiOx technology. The discovery of the name ‘Eadburg’ from another of the Bodleian’s early medieval manuscripts by PhD candidate Jessica Hodgkinson (University of Leicester) is described in a previous Conveyor post. Recordings from these two manuscripts have demonstrated that photometric stereo recording is extremely effective and is likely to hold the key to documenting incised markings from similar volumes. Revealing these markings which have remained undetected for centuries is an incredibly exciting application of this new technology.
“The new photometric stereo recording methods that are being pioneered by John and the ARCHiOX team are transformative. The method allows us to see the surface of the pages in much greater detail than ever before and will give us insights into the preparation of the membrane and the methods used to make the quires, as well as acts of reading and engagement with the book after it was completed. New, and almost invisible, marks are now easily seen – revealing huge amounts of new information about medieval book culture – and the people who made and read them. This changes what we can do, the questions we can ask, and the answers that are revealed.” Jo Story, Professor of Early Medieval History, Leicester University.