Surviving evidence – physical, literary and iconographical – suggests that the multi-gathering codex was one of the latest Roman innovations that evolved out of earlier and simpler book formats with which it coexisted for centuries, namely the wooden tablet codices and the single-gathering codices. The transition from roll to codex took place between the 2nd and the 5th centuries AD for reasons and under circumstances which have been long debated with none of the theories proposed so far been unanimously accepted.
The talk aims to give an overview of a research project which was concluded for its greatest part at the Bard Graduate Center between 2015 and 2017 and culminated in an exhibition curated by Goergios Boudalis, on view at Bard’s gallery space in New York City from March to July 2018, and the publication of a book with the title The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity.
The focus of this project was to investigate not why the codex supplanted the roll but rather how it did so. The research evolved in two parallel directions: on the one hand, it investigated how the multi-gathering codex relates to earlier and simpler codex formats like the wooden tablet codex and the single-gathering codex, while on the other hand it looked at the possible sources of the different processes and techniques used, such as the sewing of the gatherings, the endbands, the fastening straps, etc.