Medieval Rolls in a Digital Environment

Dot Porter, Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, and Lisa Fagin Davis, Medieval Academy of America


September 16, 2022 - 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm @ Virtual
View of a Digital Mappa screen showing side-by-side annotated images of Adam and Eve with the serpent wrapped around the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

Medieval rolls are notoriously difficult to display and publish. Digital publishing tends to focus on codices and to function at the level of the turning page. The physical format of rolls - membranes of parchment stitched together to form a long and narrow strip, which could be dozens of feet long - defies these expectations; other options are needed to effectively edit and publish medieval rolls in a way that respects their physical format and doesn’t force them into a framework designed for books.

Digital Mappa (DM) is one of these options. Originally designed for the editing of medieval maps of the world, DM centers the image and enables the annotation and linking of both images and text. DM is particularly useful for the editing of rolls, as the two examples in this lecture will illustrate. 

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