The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Collaboration between the Projects Textus invisibilis and Books within Books for the Recovery of Fragments from Hebrew Manuscripts in the Libraries and Archives of Central Italy

Textus invisibilis is a fragmentology project based at the University of Urbino in Central Italy. This project focuses mainly on non-Hebrew fragments used as bookbinding material for early modern volumes and registers in archives and libraries in the Marche region. Nevertheless, Hebrew fragments have played a significant role in the genesis and further development of this project on different levels. First, precisely the recovery of a group of Hebrew fragments in the State Archive in Urbino in the year 2010 gave way to the idea of searching systematically for bookbinding fragments from other language areas through public and private holdings in the Marche region in Central Italy, in order to restore and reconstruct them digitally, and catalog them through an open-access database. Second, the collaboration with Books within Books since 2015 has inspired some main tenets in the research design of Textus invisibilis, as research on Hebrew fragments in the European Geniza investigates also the contextual factors for the dismemberment of Hebrew parchment codices and their re-use in Early Modern handicraft. Reconstructing the world of human interactions that affected the change of use of those manuscripts along the centuries from ‘documents’ to ‘recycling material’ has become a topical research focus in the research approach to fragments in Textus invisibilis, rather than aiming at ‘mere’ philological-textual reconstruction. On its side, the team of Textus invisibilis in these years has systematically searched for Hebrew fragments to be cataloged in the Books within Books database. In this paper, some aspects and outcomes of the collaboration between both projects will be highlighted, especially as concerns strategies for finding fragments, cataloguing principles, big data management, and working out common case studies.