The identification, definition and typology of manuscript lacunae

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


In the article the question of how to identify and define lacunae is discussed, both in general and exemplified in manuscripts containing collections of monastic sayings of the Desert Fathers. These sayings, organized in different ways, were probably written down in Greek during the early fifth century and were soon translated into many languages. In a relational MySQL database, the sayings as they appear in the manuscripts are given a unique identifier. The structure and the contents of each manuscript can be compared through this reference system, which builds on the unique structure of each manuscript. However, when a manuscript contains lacunae, the results when comparing the structures are not trustworthy. The article discusses how to deal with such problems. A definition of the notion lacuna in general is suggested, and also a typology for lacunae that could be used both by cataloguers of manuscripts and by scholars. Moreover, a model for how to calculate the parts of a text that are missing in smaller lacunae is presented.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Specific Languages


  • lacuna, MySQL, relational database, Apophthegmata Patrum, Sayings of the Desert Fathers
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital and Analytical Approaches to the Written Heritage
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 7th international conference El'Manuscript "Heritage and Information Technologies", 2018
Place of PublicationSofia
PublisherGutenberg Publishing House
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 30
Publication categoryResearch

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Samuel Rubenson, Johan Åhlfeldt, Britt Dahlman, Elisabet Göransson & Karine Åkerman Sarkissian


Project: ResearchNational collaboration, International collaboration

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