On 3rd of March, the fifteenth visit by the survey team (which lasted for two months instead of the usual one) finished the condition survey of the 3,307 bound manuscripts in the old library of the monastery. This completes the most detailed survey of its sort for a whole collection of this size, and it has involved the participation of 35 people from nine different countries.
Each book was recorded on a specially designed 10-page form, with an additional 6 pages if additional materials needed to be recorded, and rubbings of all the decorative tools used. Photographic records were also collected, with an average of 8 photographs of each book.
The first visit was in November 2001, setting a pattern of up to five visits each year by teams of four conservators for one month at a time, which was changed in August 2004 to six conservators on each visit with the reduction of the number of visits each year to three, to minimise the disruption that our visits inevitably made to the life of the monastery.
The work on digitising the survey forms and slides and inputting information into the specially-designed database (funded by both the AHRC and the Headley Trust) is now well under way and should be completed within the next two years, together with a Greek-English terminology of bookbinding terms. When finished, the database will provide a highly sophisticated tool for the management of the future conservation of the books, as well as constituting the largest and most complete record of Byzantine/Greek books and bindings ever assembled.
Further information about the visits, the survey methodology and the digitisation can be found under Project on the left side of this page.