- The Codicology and Conservation of the Syriac Galen Palimpsest
- Manuscript Studies: A Journal of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 2018
- p. pp. 33-68
- View Citation
Disbinding the Syriac Galen Palimpsest to allow for more successful imaging also permitted conservators to examine the codicology and binding of the palimpsest, the quality of its parchment, and the chemistry of its inks. Both the upper and lower texts were found to have iron gall black inks. The red ink in the Galen text was identified as red lead mixed with cinnabar or vermilion, while the red ink in the liturgical text was identified as cinnabar or vermilion alone. The leaves of the manuscript were coated with chalk according to Syriac tradition. The binding, which was probably applied at St. Catherine's Monastery, retained evidence of both Syriac and Greek binding elements, including heavy endbands, reinforced headcaps, chain-stitch sewing, wide fabric spine linings, book markers, and interlaced fastening straps. During conservation treatment, conservators released leaves that were adhered in the gutter, mended edge tears and losses in the parchment, reduced adhesive residues, and consolidated flaking inks resulting from water damage. At the request of the palimpsest's owner, the book was rebound after imaging. The repaired quires were sewn over a paper concertina to protect the parchment from adhesives and to make the binding readily reversible. The volume was provided with new fabric spine linings, plain endbands, and a new leather spine that maximized visibility of the earlier binding features.