The manuscripts, available for free on its website at www.bl.uk/manuscripts
, are part of one of the most important collections outside Greece for the study of more than 2,000 years of Hellenic culture. The website provides researchers with access to high quality digital images of a major part of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts collection, supported by enhanced metadata which enables users to search using key words.
One of the documents on the site is The Theodore Psalter
, produced in Constantinople in 1066. It is supposed to be the most significant surviving manuscript illuminated in Constantinople. It is one of the greatest treasures of Byzantine manuscript production and of pivotal importance for the understanding of Byzantine art. Made for Abbot Michael of the Studios monastery there, it is named after its scribe and illuminator, the monk Theodore who produced 435 marginal illustrations that act as a commentary on the text of the Psalms.
The Illuminated Gospels
is another important manuscript, a 12th century gospel book which is rare because of its integration of images of Christ's life into the Gospels. This early 10th century manuscript Dialogues of Lucian
is the oldest surviving manuscript of the works of second-century author Lucian.
Scot McKendrick, Head of History and Classical Studies at the British Library, said in a statement on the museum's website, "This website offers everyone, wherever they may be in the world, the opportunity to engage for the first time with over 100,000 pages of newly digitised, unique manuscripts which provide direct insights into the rich written legacy of the Greeks of classical antiquity, Byzantine times, the Renaissance and beyond.”
The British Library holds over 1,000 Greek manuscripts, 3,000 Greek papyri and a comprehensive collection of early Greek printing. These collections make the Library one of the largest and most important centres outside Greece for the study of over 2000 years of Hellenic culture.
The Greek manuscripts that have been digitised provide witnesses of the rich culture of the Greek-speaking peoples from the time of the Iliad and Odyssey throughout the Hellenistic, early Christian, Byzantine and Ottoman eras and beyond. They are fundamental to understanding of the Classical and Byzantine world.