Discover the manufacturing of an illuminated manuscript

  • Last Updated: Saturday, 21 August 2021 13:28
  • Published: Tuesday, 27 July 2021 15:00
  • Written by ArkéoTopia
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Jean-Olivier Gransard-Desmond invites you to discover in his company

Archaeology of Words
From raw material to an illuminated manuscript

Check the upcoming events in the section “Agenda” ou
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  Dans un atelier de parcheminier, un moine reçoit une feuille de parchemin
In the workshop of a parchment maker, a monk receives
a sheet of parchment (Konglike Bibliotek de Kopenhagen,
Ms. 4 Bd. 1, f. 183 r dated 1255 AD)

Pitch in 30 seconds

Tracing the medieval parchment-making processes is a complex task. Certainly there is no shortage of works withholding the recipes and secrets of the preparations of skin and tannins.

However, if the explanations may seem sufficient, in practice the craftsmen and researchers seeking to obtain the medieval equivalent of a parchment would quickly be confronted with significant lack of precision. Besides the tools, the quantities and durations are not always provided.

Thanks to the archaeological study of European manuscripts and codices dating from the 8th to the 15th centuries, and to experimentation in collaboration with craftsmen, researchers have been able to shed light on the manufacturing processes of medieval codices.

For which audience?

Intended for an adult audience, the content of this conference can be adapted for school students, middle schools and high schools as well as university students.


Conference duration: 1 hour, including 45 minutes of intervention with a slide show and 15 minutes of exchange with the public.

The lecturer

Photo of Jean-Olivier Gransard-DesmondIcono-archaeologist, Dr. Jean-Olivier Gransard-Desmond is a specialist of human-animal relationships who has also worked on medieval manuscripts. His fieldwork brought him to intervene as much in France as in Tunisia and Syria, covering periods ranging from prehistoric to modern times. Co-founder of ArkeoTopia, an alternative approach to archaeology, he is also very active in the fields of science workshop, education and the defense of archaeological research.
To know more about him, look at his academic presentation on the Archéologie et Archéométrie website laboratory (CNRS - UMR 5138).

I am interested in this subject and wish to know more about it
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To get more acquainted with the subject while you wait to attend, Jean-Olivier Gransard-Desmond invites you to check out the following references:

  • Arsenal, Archéologie du livre médiéval, Exposition du Cinquantenaire de l’IRHT 1937-1987, 24 nov. 1987-3 janv. 1988, Paris, Paris, 1987.
  • Bonnenberger Ph. et Gransard-Desmond J.-O., La fabrication du parchemin, Histoire médiévale 22, Eyguières, octobre 2001, p. 6-11.
  • Fournier S., Nicolini J.-P. et Nicolini A.-M., Brève histoire du parchemin et de l’enluminure. Guide aide mémoire, Monsempron-Libos, 1995.
  • Weinstein K., L’art des manuscrits médiévaux, trad. Jouve É., Paris, 1998.
  • Virtual exhibition on illuminated manuscripts on the website of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (in French).
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