UNM course brings medieval past to the present

Colton Shone
June 30, 2016 10:30 PM

UNM gives students from all over the country a very rare opportunity every other summer. It's a pretty incredible class that's offered in our own backyard. The chance to study texts thousands of years old from medieval times.


Professor Timothy Graham teaches text from a manuscript that dates back to the 15th century. It's a prayer book from the Vatican Library in Rome.

"The words there are ‘venite exaltamus domino.’ That is to say, come let us rejoice in the Lord," he said.

Graham is the director of UNM's Institute of Medieval Studies. He offers this special course once every two years called paleography and codicology.

His current class is filled with students working toward their master’s degrees and Ph.Ds. Many are from across the country. They study ancient handwriting as well as the physical characteristics of books from the middle ages.

"To actually get to look at the primary source in the flesh is an awesome experience," said Ph.D. candidate Abigail Robertson.

Graham trains these students how to read them.

"Any text that was written in the middle ages was originally hand written in a manuscript that would unique because no two manuscript is the same," he said.

Only two schools in North America offer this kind of training, Graham said. Students get hands on learning with replica manuscripts that are rare to find.

"You gain a lot of respect for these people who for thousands of years compiled these works and it's really quite remarkable," said visiting graduate student Manon Williams.

Graham used to work heavily with manuscripts as a researcher at the University of Cambridge. He hopes his training will keep the study of medieval texts going for a long time to come.  


Colton Shone

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