The Purpose of MACaP

The Manual of Armenian Codicology and Palaeography, or MACaP for short, will serve two purposes. The first is to enable students to grasp the structure of a typical Armenian manuscript, the similarities and differences that exist between Armenian codices and those produced in the same period in the Greek and Latin world. Attention will be paid to such matters as writing support (parchment and paper), inks, numbering system of the folios and quire structure, ruling systems and issues of layout, decoration (rubrication), etc. In the end, students will be have acquired basic skills enabling them to analyse manuscripts by themselves and to produce a scientific description of a manuscript.

The second purpose is to show the development of Armenian manuscript hands and writing styles, beginning with its earliest forms (erkat‘agir, iron script), expanding to the most stable and common form (bolorgir, round script), and further exhibiting later, more difficult forms (nōtrgir, notary script) and modern cursive (šłagir, cursive). Attention will also be paid to the distinction and identification of hands as well as such matters as the Armenian abbreviation system.

The aim of the Manual of Armenian Codicology and Palaeography is the provision of an interactive didactic tool that will enable users to either demonstrate practical issues of codicology and palaeography in a classroom situation, or to work through these questions by themselves in self-study. This project uniquely provides scholars and students of Armenian palaeography with the possibility of examining Armenian letters in their actual size and in magnification. This feature, unavailable in printed formats, is fundamental for the study of individual copyists’ hands. While zooming in is beneficial for the actual reading of difficult hands, it is well known among palaeographers that the reproduction of an altered size of handwritten writing may seriously compromise the identification of scribal hands.

Current resources, such as the excellent Album of Armenian Palaeography, serve well as reference works, but do not introduce the reader to the practical use of and issues with Armenian manuscripts in general, and writing styles in particular. The approach here envisaged is inspired by that of Nigel Wilson’s Mediaeval Greek bookhands: a number of chosen passages will receive detailed commentary of particular features, progressing from the basics of the different scripts and manuscript layouts, over the differentiation of similar letters in one hand, to the evaluation of different manuscript hands and their dating.