eISSN 2217-5563 ISSN (Print) 2217-5555

Ћирилица Latinica English

Vladan Trijić
Narodna biblioteka Srbije, Beograd

doi: 10.19090/cit.2021.38.28-35
No. 38 (May 2021), p. 28-35

Codicological or Material Manusript Description?


The term codicology as a name for the science that studies manuscript books, introduced in 1949, almost immediately began to take on different meanings. They can be reduced to the conception of codicology in a narrower sense, as an archaeological discipline, and its conception in a broader sense, as a historical discipline. Regardless of these differences, its starting point is in the material structure of the codex. Recent tendencies in the development of codicology lead to its adaptation to the nature of the material or to certain scientific goals: quantitative codicology is interested in book production and its economic and social context and does not recognize the distinctive value of an individual book but of a mass of ordinary manuscripts; comparative codicology compares manuscripts belonging to different cultures, searching for their common features and mutual influences; structural codicology distinguishes between the morphological and syntactic dimensions of manuscripts and is particularly suitable for processing noncompact codices.
During the 1970s, Dimitrije Bogdanović was the first to write about codicology in the Serbian environment, advocating its broad, cultural understanding, but he did not have a large number of followers. This can be explained by the specific development of the Serbian science of manuscripts. Namely, for more than six decades, the term archaeography has been used here for describing manuscripts, and the methodology of archaeography has been characterized by equal treatment of all elements of a manuscript book, including content, which is why one manuscript is being processed by three or four experts of different scientific profiles. This has been transferred to the scientific research field as well because researchers, for the most part, stay within the framework of a certain range of topics and methodologies from their disciplines, approaching the codex as a historical source, while its overall understanding is left to archaeographers who, however, do not work in scientific institutions but only in libraries. The paper presents in more detail the differences between the codicological and archaeographic approach and advocates the use of the term material description for the initial part of the full archaeographic description.


codex, codicology, archaeography, manuscript description, material description

Submitted: 15th April 2021
Correction to the manuscript: 24th April 2021
Accepted for publication: 27th April 2021

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Codicological or Material Manusript Description? by Vladan Trijić is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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