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Saint Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai and Its Hidden Manuscript Treasures

Dumbarton Oaks Music Room
October 1, 2015
05:30 PM to 07:30 PM
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Byzantine Studies Public Lecture | Claudia Rapp, University of Vienna

The Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine, located on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula and fortified with walls under Emperor Justinian in the sixth century, is the oldest Christian monastery in continuous operation. Despite its remoteness, it has attracted monks and pilgrims from all regions of Christendom. Its art collection and library are home to unique treasures that have been preserved through the ages. Some of the manuscript evidence there has only recently been unlocked with the help of digital technology and the efforts of the Sinai Palimpsests Project, which uses spectral imaging to make legible and identify erased ancient texts.

This lecture will present the current results of the project and explain how they contribute to our understanding of the monastery as a cultural magnet in the Middle Ages.

Claudia Rapp is an internationally recognized leader of Byzantine Studies who specializes in Late Antiquity. She received her PhD at the University of Oxford and taught at Cornell University and the University of California, Los Angeles, before taking her current position as professor in the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Vienna, and director of the Division of Byzantine Research at the Institute for Medieval Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences. In June 2015 Rapp was awarded the Wittgenstein Prize, the highest academic award in Austria.