Medi 452 1.1 - Page 27

I began my research by reading what work had already been done on Harley 647, and I looked at the sources in which Harley 647 was briefly mentioned. These sources, which sometimes included only a picture and the title, nevertheless helped me to see what kind of things for which it was being cited as an exemplar.

The first source I read was a very long letter written in the 1830s by Ottley, who believed that the manuscript was actually from the 2nd or 3rd century AD, sometime before the reign of Constantine. This source turned out to be largely misinformed, and misled me rather than being of help. I then found that Harley 647 was mentioned in several articles on Carolingian manuscript production, and have been familiarizing myself with the Carolingian culture in which it was likely produced.

In addition to being initially led astray by an outdated examination of Harley 647, I have had trouble finding any direct research on the manuscript itself (seemingly, the only thorough and modern research was done in German). My strategy therefore has been to focus on researching the making of manuscripts by the Carolingians. I have learned that the Carolingians were keen on preserving Classical knowledge (and even style) and Harley 647 seemed to be a very good example of this.In light of what I have learned so far, I also plan to do research regarding the use of Classical texts and knowledge in medieval culture and manuscripts. In addition, I intend to do more research regarding medieval astrology and astronomy, more specifically the use of standardized iconography in the relevant manuscripts.

My research has caused me to think of Harley 647 as very unusual and perhaps unique. When I had originally chosen to study Harley 647, I had no idea that it would be quite so difficult to find comparable examples of the “images out of text” that make up so much of the illustrations. I am intrigued by the inspirations for the use of text in this attractive and captivating manner, and what the blurring of boundaries between text and image might have meant for both the maker or makers, and the viewers, of this fascinating manuscript.

Research Progress Update