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Vatican Library digitises 1,600 year-old manuscript containing works of Virgil

The Vatican Apostolic Library, Digita Vaticana, NTT DATA Corporation and Canon Inc. today announced their agreement to present special faithful reproductions of a rare 1,600-year-old manuscript to the first 200 people/organizations who donate 500 euros or more to support an ongoing project that is using NTT DATA technology to digitally archive thousands of manuscripts at the Vatican Library.

Vatican Library digitises 1,600 year-old manuscript containing works of Virgil
Vergilius Vaticanus, Folio XXIIr, Creusa trying to detain Aeneas from the battle, 4th cent. 
[Credit: Vatican Library]
The reproductions will give the beholders the impression of looking at the original masterpiece. Donations should be made to Digita Vaticana, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the Library’s digitization project. Beginning today, reproductions, certified by the Library, can be booked by making a donation, and Digita Vaticana will distribute this special gift to donors and supporters of the project in September.

The facsimile will accurately reproduce the appearance of the manuscript. The digitization process is being handled by NTT DATA. Faithful reproduction of the original manuscript is made possible through the combination of Canon’s proprietary material appearance image-processing technology and Canon Group company Océ’s elevated printing technology.

The collaboration demonstrates how advanced technologies can be used to preserve and share ancient treasures as evidence of humankind’s universal cultural heritage. Canon’s innovative image-processing and printing technologies will produce exceptionally faithful reproductions of Folio 22 recto of the Vatican Virgil, one of the most important pages in the Vatican Library’s collections. A limited edition of 200 copies of the reproduction will be distributed to donors and supporters of the project.

The Vatican Virgil, a manuscript created in ancient Rome around 400 A.D., contains fragments of Virgil’s Aeneid and Georgics. Originally, it very likely included all of the canonical works of the Latin poet. One of the oldest manuscripts in existence today, it still contains the text of the Aeneid, with 76 surviving leaves and 50 illustrations. The Folio 22 recto includes an illustration from the Aeneid that depicts Creusa trying to detain her husband Aeneas from battle.

NTT DATA joined the Vatican Apostolic Library’s digital archiving project in April 2014. The project aims to create digital copies of some 3,000 ancient manuscripts for archiving and sharing with both scholars and the general public around the world.

“We are honored to use our state-of-the-art technology to help the Vatican Apostolic Library preserve these irreplaceable cultural treasures as a legacy for future generations,” said Toshio Iwamoto, President and CEO of NTT DATA. “NTT DATA will continue to leverage its digital expertise in support of the arts and academia for the benefit of future generations.”

“Our library is an important storehouse of the global culture of humankind,” said Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library. “We are delighted the process of digital archiving will make these wonderful ancient manuscripts more widely available to the world and thereby strengthen the deep spirit of humankind’s shared universal heritage.”

“Every donation will be used to support our mission of preserving the priceless historical manuscripts of the Vatican Apostolic Library,” said Maite Bulgari, President of Digita Vaticana. “The reproduction that will be sent to 200 donors will enable people to understand how digitization and new technologies can reproduce the actual appearance and the essence of a page from an ancient manuscript created some 1,600 years ago.”

“We are honored that Canon’s cutting-edge technology is being used to create the reproductions of this culturally important document,” said Fujio Mitarai, Chairman and CEO of Canon Inc. “The process used to create these visually and texturally accurate reproductions of the 1,600-year-old Vatican manuscript employs our material appearance image-processing technology to facilitate the digitization of such material appearance information as color data, subtle surface contours, and gloss. This information is then optimally controlled to replicate the material appearance properties of the original document. Through our technology, Canon will continue contributing to the development of culture and the arts.”

The Vatican Apostolic Library and NTT DATA expect to complete their manuscript-digitization project by March 2018. Individuals and organizations interested in supporting the project are invited to visit Digita Vaticana at

Source: Business Wire [July 11, 2016]

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