In late October, Visiting Professor Georgios Boudalis led a field trip to the Morgan Library as part of his course “In Focus: The Making of the Early Codex and the Crafts of Late Antiquity,” which is working towards a Focus Project exhibition planned for February 2018. The purpose of the visit was to view some of the original early bound codices that have been discussed in class and study the evolution of the codex from the earlier wax tablet codices to their later medieval structures.

The class was shown a set of a five wax tablet codices from the sixth century, the famous Glazier codex (in its original sixth-century binding), several decorated covers from the ninth- to tenth-century Hamuli Coptic codices, as well as an Ethiopic codex and two Syriac codices. Comparing the codices written in different languages, and to an extent bound in the context of different bookbinding traditions, it was possible to see that in fact the various bookbinding traditions around the Mediterranean—especially its eastern part—shared common technical and decorative features until well after the medieval period. The class viewed some of the detached covers of Coptic codices, which Bard Graduate Center will be asking to borrow for the Focus Project exhibition, and discussed the patterns and techniques used to decorate them and how such techniques and patterns can be found in other artifacts of the same period, such as shoes. During the trip, students also had the opportunity to visit the library, see some of the manuscripts and printed books on display, and view current exhibitions.