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Latin in Old Norse-Icelandic Manuscripts

Final Report Summary - ISLANDIA LATINA (Latin in Old Norse-Icelandic Manuscripts)

The ISLANDIA LATINA project, based at The Department of Nordic Research at Copenhagen University, has collected and presented in database form the remains of Latin literacy in Iceland, including Latin authors and works known and used, in one way or another, in Medieval Iceland (and, to a lesser degree, in Norway). Of major importance is the registration of Latin manuscript fragments the provenance of which can be traced to Iceland, together with identifying the source texts of Old Norse-Icelandic translations. This work was carried out in collaboration with Prof. Driscoll and the editors of the Dictionary of Old Norse Prose. The initial focus was on identifying authors and works; subsequently further categories were added to the database. The work was both concentrated on researching the sources and building the database by entering data into the new system. The database was opened to the public by the end of 2014 (see http://islandialatina.hum.ku.dk/about.aspx) and it has been demonstrated to highly enthusiastic audiences both in Iceland and at two universities in Norway, The University of Oslo and the University of Bergen. The work of introducing this new and highly useful research instrument to the scholarly community will continue online and at meetings and conferences.

At The Department of Nordic Research the MC fellow received important training in extracting information from digitized and undigitized sources and in methods of codifying information and making it available online. The design of the ISLANDIA LATINA database went through initial technical difficulties when entering data directly into the XML-documents proved impractical and it was decided that a simplified interface needed to be constructed. For this work The Department of Nordic Research funded a technician-in-chief, Araz Yaminiana, who executed and encoded the design developed by the MC fellow in collaboration with Dr. Astrid Marner from Bonn University, who was seconded to the project for a period of six months through an additional funding scheme provided by The Department of Nordic Research. During data entry, a number of improvements and bug-fixes were carried out in constant interaction between individual members of the team. Thus far the project has identified works by 288 named Latin authors in addition to 123 anonymous works. A number of these have not previously been known to have existed in Iceland or the west Nordic area as a whole in the medieval period. New source material, entered directly from the photographic manuscript collection of The Arnamagnæan Collection, has considerably expanded the reach of registration and significantly improved the coverage and quality of the ISLANDIA LATINA database.