When in Rome: books and beasts at the British School


The final stop on our Italian visit was Rome where we were generously hosted by Prof Christopher Smith, Director of the British School at Rome and the library and archive team led by Valerie Scott and Alessandra Giovenco.

Joining us at our seminar where we explained the science behind the collagen sampling method and its possible appliance to a specific parchment-based project were curators, conservators and researchers from the Biblioteca Vaticana, the Biblioteca nazionale centrale, the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, the American University of Rome, and the Director of the Danish Academy, Prof Marianne Pade, and Director of the Istituto Centrale per il restauro e la conservazione del patrimonio archivistico e librario (ICRCPAL), Dr. Maria Cristina Misiti. After our presentation we demonstrated the technique and had a useful discussion and question and answer session with the assembled experts whose questions were many and varied.
BSR Sample demo

We look forward to exploring the potential for accepting the Director’s invitation for a return trip in 2015 for a larger-scale study day and to developing links made with Rome-based institutions. There is no doubting the potential the city’s archives and libraries offer in terms of mapping the production and dissemination of parchment texts across the centuries.

Prior to departure we had time for a quick visit to the BSR’s own Special Collections which are especially rich in travel literature from the Renaissance through to the early twentieth century, including texts which the English grand-tourists probably used as they built the type of collections now hosted by libraries like the John Rylands back in Manchester.

Its been an incredibly productive trip and we’ve been fortunate to meet with generous and enthusiastic colleagues across the disciplines and we look forward to moving things forward. For now, in Aldus mode, its time to up anchor and head for home.

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