Radiocarbon dating recently identified a manuscript in the University of Birmingham’s Cadbury Research Library as possibly the world's oldest fragment of the Qur’an, showing it to be at least 1,370 years old and attracting unprecedented international interest. Similarly, the earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels was rediscovered in a manuscript in Cologne Cathedral Library after being lost for 1,500 years and published for the first time last year with an English translation. How are such texts identified, authenticated and catalogued? What measures are taken to preserve them and make them available for scholarly research and public interest? What are the cutting edge technologies being used to analyse, protect and recover key historical documents?
Sarah Kilroy is Head of Conservation and Programming and Hugh Houghton is Director of Research at the Department of Theology and Religion and leads Birmingham's Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing.