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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Greek Palaeography & Manuscript Culture (PGHC11602)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryMost of the ancient and medieval Greek literature survives in manuscripts copied by scribes in the Byzantine world centred on Constantinople but reaching as far west as Sicily and southern Italy and as far east as Cyprus and the Levante. Learning to use manuscript materials allows both classicists and Byzantinists to study previously unknown or neglected texts, authors, traditions and topics and/or gain an understanding of the transmission of texts as well as the social factors and contexts informing Byzantine book production, learning and reading.
Course description Over the eleven weeks of the course, we shall traverse the world of Greek handwriting from c.300 to c.1500, taking the surviving fourth-century codices of the Bible as our starting point and concluding with early prints in Greek manufactured at the workshop of Aldo Manuzio in Venice. The following topics will typically be covered in the course:

Codicology and writing materials
Majuscule hands
Formal and archaising minuscule hands
Informal and scholarly minuscule hands
Regional hands (Levantine, Southern Italian, Cypriot, Epirot)
The transmission of ancient and medieval texts
Contexts of manuscript production: monasteries, schools, learning and literary life in Byzantium
Finding and citing manuscripts
Visits to the Centre for Research Collections and the National Library of Scotland
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Greek Palaeography (GREE10032) AND Greek Palaeography & Manuscript Culture (GREE10039) AND Greek Palaeography (PGHC11423)
Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 16, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 158 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
Poster showcasing the transmission, or an aspect thereof, of an ancient or Byzantine Greek author (50%)
2,500 word essay (50%)

Additionally, the student will be offered feedback in the form of three take-home transcription and dating exercises (without marks).
Feedback The student will receive feedback on the three transcription exercises and written feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss the coursework and feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. decipher and describe Greek bookhands from c.300 to c.1500, identify types and fashions of script and suggest approximate datings
  2. describe the construction and codicological features of a manuscript book, and handle original manuscript material
  3. use printed catalogues, online databases, and library research to locate and describe manuscripts
  4. research and discuss the classical tradition in Byzantium and the transmission of ancient Greek and Byzantine literature through the medieval and early modern periods to the early stages of printing
  5. critically evaluate the palaeographical and transmission-related aspects of textual criticism
Reading List
N. G. Wilson, 'Greek Palaeography', in E. Jeffreys & al., The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies (Oxford, 2008), 101-14

S. Papaioannou, 'Greek Palaeography and Byzantine Book Culture (4th-16th c. CE): A Bibliographical Essay', available on

N. Gaul, 'The Manuscript Tradition', in E. Bakker (ed.), Companion to the Ancient Greek Language (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 69-82.

N. Wilson, Medieval Greek Bookhands: Examples Selected from Greek Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries, 2 vols (Cambridge, MA, 1972/3; repr. 1995)

R. Barbour, Greek Literary Hands AD 400-1600 (Oxford, 1981)

P. Easterling and C. Handley (eds), Greek Scripts: An Illustrated Introduction (London, 2001)

A. Turyn, Dated Greek Manuscripts in the Libraries of Great Britain (Washington, D.C., 1981)

La paleographie grecque et byzantine, Colloques internationaux du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris 21-25 octobre 1974, No 559 (Paris, 1977)

D. Harlfinger and G. Prato (eds), Paleografia e codicologia greca. Atti del II Colloquio internazionale, Berlino-Wolfenbuttel, 17-21 ottobre 1983 (Alessandria, 1991)

G. Cavallo, G. de Gregorio and M. Maniaci (eds), Scritture, libri e testi nelle aree provinciali di Bisanzio. Atti del seminario di Erice, 18-25 settembre 1988 (Spoleto, 1991)

G. Prato (ed.), I manoscritti greci tra riflessione e dibattito. Atti del V Colloquio Internazionale di Paleografia Greca, Cremona, 4-10 ottobre 1998, 3 vols (Florence, 2000)

B. Atsalos and N. Tsironis (eds), Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Greek Palaeography, Drama, 21-27 September 2003, 3 vols (Athens, 2008)

A. Bravo Garcia and I. Perez Martin (eds), The Legacy of Bernard de Montfaucon: Three Hundred Years of Studies on Greek Handwriting. Proceedings of the Seventh International Colloquium of Greek Palaeography (Madrid-Salamanca, 15-20 September 2008) (Turnhout, 2010)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Niels Gaul
Tel: (0131 6)50 3776
Course secretary
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