Mysterious inscriptions found on an ancient manuscript: they were made without ink

Hidden notes made without ink found on the pages of an early medieval book. Now it is stored

at Oxford University Library in England.

Researchers think it's workhigh-ranking, highly educated woman. At the time the notes were made - 1200 years ago - when only the elite could read and write. Many of the scribbles contain the Old English female name Edburgh, which researchers believe belongs to the person who made the notes.

Secret entries and drawings found on the pagesa rare manuscript known as MS Selden Supra 30, which was made in southern England between 700 and 750 AD. Image Credit: ARCHIOX/Bodleian Libraries

The meaning of the almost invisible sketches on the pagesremains unclear. One page depicts a man with outstretched arms, one of which he holds out to another. He, in turn, raises his hand, as if stopping the partner's movements. What this means, scientists do not know. One theory is that Edburgh wrote her name to highlight passages in MS Selden Supra 30 that are significant to her. This is a Latin copy of the Acts of the Apostles, made in southern England between 700 and 750 AD.

This drawing depicts a person with outstretched arms reaching out to another person. Image Credit: ARCHIOX/Bodleian Libraries

So far, scientists have found that the nameEdburg (Eadburg) is written entirely on five different pages of the manuscript. Other abbreviated forms of the name, including E, EAD, and EADB, appeared 10 more times in the margins of these and other pages.

Edburgh is a female Old English name written without ink. Image Credit: ARCHIOX/Bodleian Libraries

The manuscript was studied using processing technologyimages developed by the Bodleian’s Analyzing and Recording Cultural Heritage in Oxford (ARCHiOx) project in collaboration with the Factum Foundation, a Spanish non-profit group that digitally preserves old art. The project was sponsored by the British Helen Hamlyn Trust.

A digital reconstruction of the first page of the manuscript shows an inkless inscription at the top left.
Image Credit: ARCHIOX/Bodleian Libraries

Scientists have discovered hidden words and pictures onrare manuscript, using the method of photometric stereo recording. By changing the lighting conditions, the system creates a 3D model of the surface of the object. This makes it possible to reveal small marks the size of one-fifth of the width of a human hair.

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