Panorama of historic inks: from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

In this lecture, Prof. Dr. Ira Rabin illustrates the panorama of historic inks and our attempt to follow up the transition of the inks from those based on soot to the iron-gall inks commonly used in the Middle Age.

Photo of Prof. Dr. Ira Rabin standing in front of a bookshelf, smiling with glasses on her head.

Prof. Dr. Ira Rabin. Photo: private.

Prof. Dr. Ira Rabin (Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung, Berlin and Universität Hamburg) and her research team visit the papyrus collection of the University of Oslo Library to study the composition of the inks used in the papyri belonging to the papyrus collection. In the frame of the visit she gives an overview lecture for researchers and the general public about the development of inks from Antiquity into the Middle Ages.

Their research aims primarily at recreating a socio-geographic history of inks, parchment, and papyrus and includes the comparative analysis of the writing materials of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ink and papyrus in Ancient and Hellenistic Egypt, and inks in documents from various contemporary medieval communities in Fustat (first nucleus of Cairo) as well as other medieval Jewish and Armenian communities. To this aim they developed a protocol for ink analysis. It consists of a primary screening to determine the type of the ink, and a subsequent in-depth analysis using several spectroscopic techniques. One of them, X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) aims primarily at establishing the fingerprints of inks containing metals, making it possible to distinguish among different inks.

The visit is co-hosted by the Papyrus Collection of the University of Oslo Library and the research projects Editions of Unpublished Texts from the Oslo collection, Dept. of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo and A New Methodology and Ethics for Manuscript Studies (EthiCodex), MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society.

Published Sep. 13, 2022 10:46 AM - Last modified Sep. 15, 2022 9:19 AM