Tag Archives: Ligatus Research Centre

Conference | FROM CODEX TO CODE | Ligatus Research Centre

Ten years of research by graduates of the

Ligatus Research Centre

We invite you to celebrate with us the 10th Anniversary of the Ligatus Research Centre at the CCW Graduate School with a conference at which our first seven PhD and M.Phil graduates will present papers about their current research interests.

The conference will take place on Friday, 24th February, from 10am to 6pm, in Banqueting Hall of the Chelsea College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts London, John Islip Street, SW1P 4JU and it will be followed by a reception.

Tickets for the conference will be available from January 2017


Georgios Boudalis
(Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki)
The birth of the codex and the crafts of Late Antiquity

Alberto Campagnolo
(Library of Congress, Washington)
The digital representation of books as objects: from cultural objects to digital cultural objects

Anna Gialdini
(University of the Arts London)
Luxury, Hybridism, and the Strange Greekness of Some Florentine Bindings

Theresa Zammit Lupi
(The Notarial Archives, Valletta, Malta)
On the parchment trail: following music manuscripts from Malta

Heather Ravenberg
(Saint Catherine Foundation)
Documentation schemas for recording conservation activity

Martha Romero
(Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
From research to practice

Nikolas Sarris
(National Library of Greece, Athens, Thesaurus-Islamicus project, Cairo)
The Ligatus Condition Assessment Form: a tool for training, studio workflows and surveys: Experiences from Iraq, Ethiopia and Egypt


For more information about Ligatus please visit www.ligatus.org.uk

On the Matter of Books and Records

CCW PhD student Anna Gialdini recently organised a workshop entitled On the Matter of Books and Records: Forms, Substance, Forgeries, and Meanings Beyond the Lines, which took place on 23 November at the Victoria & Albert Museum. ‘I am happy to say that it was a success. The result of intense work on the part of three co-organisers (myself alongside Alessandro Silvestri, AR.C.H.I.ves Project, Birkbeck University of London, and Maria Alessandra Chessa, Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum), it brought together international speakers from diverse theoretical frameworks and professional backgrounds. Over one hundred people registered for the event, many of them students and early career researchers, and gathered in the beautiful Victoria & Albert Museum Lecture Hall to hear about recent research, discuss methodologies, and take part in a trans-disciplinary debate about the materiality of written sources and supports across time.

Danae Bafa (UCL) opened the workshop with a presentation of how papyrus was produced and consumed in ancient times, opening our eyes on the real extent of its use other then as a writing support. Jessica Berenbeim (University of Oxford) followed with an engaging discussion of how the materiality of parchment was perceived by its users in the Middle Ages: they never forgot, she argues, that parchment came from animal skins, and this aspect was in fact effectively used to communicate meaning. To conclude the session on supports, Maria Alessandra Chessa (Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum) introduced us to early modern perceptions of paper and its role in human society; its distinctive traits gave it a place in some cabinets or curiosities.

After a break, it was time for a new session entirely dedicated to bindings, both in libraries and in archives. For my paper, I collaborated with Alessandro Silvestri (AR.C.H.I.ves Project, Birkbeck University of London), and spent a few days in Sicily earlier this year to analyse archival bindings in the State Archive of Palermo. While not closely related to my PhD topic, this project is particularly important to me, as it shows the transdisciplinarity of the history of bookbinding as a field: in this case, Alessandro and I were able to show how medieval and early modern authorities and archivists interacted with the production of documents (and ultimately, history itself) continuously over time. Carlo Federici’s (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) paper traced a story of the discipline over the last 30 years by drawing a fascinating picture of his own research and career, showing how what was once known as “archaeology of the book” has transformed from purely technical training for conservators into a discipline in its own right.

Our final session focused on forgeries. Emily Taylor (British Museum) presented an object from the British Museum she has been able to study both in its physical characteristics and its wider meanings: an intriguing “book” produced to be sold as Coptic on the 19th-century European market, by using both modern and genuine ancient objects. Alfred Hiatt (Queen Mary University of London) talked to us about the material forms that forgeries of documents took as their creators used them for their own purposes, and how the phenomenon influenced 15th century critical methods.

Ian Sansom’s (University of Warwick) final remarks offered a fascinating and inspiring overview of how he (and other writers) engaged with the materiality of paper in carrying out their work.

Each session was followed by a lively discussion with the audience, led by our chairs Nicholas Pickwoad (Ligatus, UAL), Filippo De Vivo (AR.C.H.I.ves Project, Birkbeck University of London) and Ian Sansom (University of Warwick).’ Social media documentation of the day was gathered on Storify.

Anna Gialdini is a UAL Studentship funded student with Ligatus Research Centre. She is researching Greek-style bookbindings in Renaissance Venice.

Top image: Ian Sansom presenting his final remarks (‘The Paper Museum’), photo by Anna Gialdini

The Language of Bindings Thesaurus

Ligatus Research Centre is proud to announce the launch of the Language of Binding online thesaurus of bookbinding terms, which was celebrated with a one-day event in the Chelsea College of Arts (University of the Arts London) in collaboration with CERL on 23 June 2015.

Ligatus is a research centre of the University of the Arts London with projects in libraries and archives and with a particular interest in historic bookbinding. The Language of Binding thesaurus is the result of our long experience with historic bookbindings, but has been greatly assisted by contributions from an international group of bookbinding experts and book conservators. This work was made possible by a Networking Grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK.

The thesaurus is constructed around concepts (such as different bookbinding components, features, materials or techniques) that can be expressed by a number of language terms (labels). The thesaurus allows one concept to have more than one label, which allows the same concept to be searched for by the different terms that may have been used historically to describe it.  It will also allow the concepts to be expressed in different languages.

The Language of Binding thesaurus can be used as a reference online resource that can be searched by keyword or alphabetically. The concepts contained in the thesaurus are, however, also arranged hierarchically, based on a class/sub-class relationship, which allows concepts to be retrieved by navigating down the hierarchies even if their label (the term) is not known.

It is hoped that the thesaurus will enable all those who work with books in early bindings to arrive at more consistent descriptions of those bindings. By being based primarily on single concepts, it has tried to avoid the more familiar but sometimes frustratingly imprecise language that has often been used in the past. This means that some of these familiar terms will not be found as labels, though they may be referred to in the scope notes that define and describe the concepts (and can therefore be found by a simple keyword search).

At the moment, the thesaurus contains labels primarily in English, but work on its translation has already started, and plans for the addition of illustrations are also underway. The thesaurus can, in addition, be used as a look-up service for software applications that need to populate schema fields from thesauri.

An accompanying volume, Coming to Terms: guidelines for the description of historical bindings, which is based on the terms in the thesaurus, is to be published in the autumn of 2015.

The success of the thesaurus will to a large extent depend on contributions made to it by its users, either to add more concepts, refine existing scope notes or correct mistakes. Such contributions to the thesaurus will be welcomed, and can be made online following a registration process.