The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana has begun the first phase of a massive digitization project and over the next four years will digitize over 3000 manuscripts. The Vatican library hopes to eventually digitize all 82 000 manuscripts in it collection, which covers over 41 million pages.
Last month the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana selected the Japanese firm NTT DATA to digitally reproduced images. The 18 million euro project will last until 2018.
Among significant manuscripts of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana to be digitally archived in the first phase of the project:
- Vatican Virgil: produced in Rome around 400 AD, one of the few surviving examples of ancient illustration of a classic text (Vat lat. 3225).
- Bilingual Iliad, with Greek text and Latin translation, double facing page. The manuscript, written in the fifteenth century by the Greek copyist Giovanni Rhosos and copyist from Padua Bartolomeo Sanvito was illuminated by Gaspare di Padova (Vat gr. 1626)
- Pre-Columbian Aztec manuscript, written probably near Puebla (Mexico) at the end of the fifteenth century. The code had a ritual purpose, perhaps divination with mythological subjects, fairy tales, a calendar and family trees of the venerated gods (Borg. mess . 1: Codex Borgianus).
- The Urbinate Bible, an undisputed masterpiece of Renaissance book art, made on behalf of Federico da Montefeltro, from the Florentine workshop of the bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci between 1476 and 1478 (Urb lat. 1-2).
- Illustrations of The Divine Comedy by Sandro Botticelli for Lorenzo the Magnificent, in XV century (Reg. lat. 1896 pt . A).
- Beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript of the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, dated between 1451 and 1475 (Ross. 498).
“We are delighted to take part in this historic initiative led by the Vatican Apostolic Library to preserve valuable treasures of humankind,” said Toshio Iwamoto, President and CEO of NTT DATA. “Through this project, NTT DATA looks forward to contributing to art, academia and business by deploying its IT expertise on a global level.”
“We gladly accepted the collaboration of NTT DATA to support the further improvement of the project of digital archiving of our manuscripts using their innovative technologies,” explained Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. “In so doing, we will further nurture our mission of preserving these treasures of humankind and making them more widely available and known in a deep spirit of universality-including the universality of knowledge and the universality of collaboration and agreement with institutions and companies throughout the world.”