The Vatican Library goes online and digitizes tens of thousands of manuscripts

The Vatican Apostolic Library, known as “VAT,” has grown a bit over the past five and a half centuries. Today it contains around 75,000 codices and 85,000 incunabula amid a total of over one million volumes.

And in the case of increasingly many of these documents, you no longer have to make the journey to Vatican City to see them. Thanks to an ongoing digitization project launched a decade ago, increasingly many have become searchable and downloadable on DigiVatLib, a database of the Vatican Library’s digitized collections including not just the aforementioned codices and incunabula but “archival materials and inventories as well as graphic materials, coins and medals.”

Back in 2016 we featured a digital collection of 5,300 rare manuscripts digitized by the collection, including the Iliad and Aeneid as well as Japanese and Aztec illustrations.

The VAT’s scanning, uploading and organizing has continued apace since, and though it prioritizes manuscripts “from the Middle Age and Humanistic period,” its materials taken together have a wider historical and indeed cultural sweep, one that only gets wider with each page added.

You can get started exploring this wealth of documents by scrolling down a little on DigiVatLib’s front page, in the middle of which you’ll find the latest digitized materials as well as a host of selected manuscripts, a few of whose pages you see above.

English article by Open Culture

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