All posts by Peter Stokes

Digital Codex Mendoza online

Ernesto Miranda, a former student on the MA in Digital Humanities here at DDH, has just published a digital edition of the Codex Mendoza, a sixteenth-century manuscript that is now one of our most important sources for pre-Hispanic culture in Mexico. The project began life as an assignment for one of his MA modules, ‘Material Culture of the Book’, for which students had to plan how they would digitise a book or set of books. After graduating, Ernesto took his plan to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, University of California Press, and King’s College London, and convinced them all to help him actually do it.

The edition is now freely available both online and as an app on the iTunes store, and has already been featured in the New York Times (among others). It allows you not only to view the pages of this famous and fascinating manuscript, but also to see in situ transcriptions, translations and supplementary material. See, for instance, this page on daily life (drag your mouse over the image to see the translation), or this one with annotations on territorial expansion.

Part of the project press-release is quoted below which gives some more background to the project. But now go, explore and enjoy!

The digital resource was created in collaboration with Bodleiain Library, Oxford, (where it has been held since 1659), King’s College London and University of California Press. It was developed in 2014, under the curatorial direction of Frances Berdan and Baltazar Brito.

The Codex Mendoza was created under the orders of Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza in 1542 to evoke an economic, political, and social panorama of the recently conquered lands. It has 72 illustrated pages glossed in Nahuatl, and 63 correspondent pages with Spanish glosses.

The Digital Codex Mendoza is part of INAH’s effort to highlight the importance of Mexican Codices for national history. This effort began in September, 2014, with the opening of the unprecedented exhibition, Códices de México, Memorias y Saberes, where 44 codices were shown for the first time to the general public. Codices are extremely sensitive documents in terms of preservation, so very few people have access to them. This is why the exhibition and the digital edition of codices held outside Mexico, such as Digital Codex Mendoza, are so important.

This effort is the first of a series that will virtually repatriate essential Mexican documents. It serves as a milestone regarding academic digital editions in Mexico and Latin America. Through this work the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), or National Institute of Anthropology and History, demonstrates the broad-based utility of this type of edition and the need to seek new forms of representation for such complex systems of knowledge. At the same time, the effort furthers the permanent calling of the INAH to study, preserve, and spread awareness of the cultural patrimony of the Mexican people, and create new ways of engagement with cultural heritage.

DigiPal Project Launch and Party

Date: Tuesday 7th October 2014
Time: 5.45pm until the wine runs out
Venue: Council Room, King’s College London, Strand WC2R 2LS
Co-sponsor: Centre for Late Antique & Medieval studies, KCL
Register your place at http://digipallaunch.eventbrite.co.uk 

After four years, the DigiPal project is finally coming to an end. To celebrate this, we are having a launch party at the Strand Campus of King’s on Tuesday, 7 October. The programme is as follows:

  • Welcome: Stewart Brookes and Peter Stokes
  • Giancarlo Buomprisco: “Shedding Some Light(box) on Medieval Manuscripts”
  • Elaine Treharne (via Skype)
  • Donald Scragg: “Beyond DigiPal”
  • Q & A with the DigiPal team

If you’re in the area then do register and come along for the talks and a free drink (or two) in celebration. Registration is free, but is required to manage numbers and ensure that we have enough drink and nibbles to go around

If you’re not familiar with DigiPal already, we have been been developing new methods for the analysis of medieval handwriting. Regular readers of this blog will have already seen our poster for DH 2014,  but do visit the site if you haven’t yet seen it. There’s much more detail there about the project, including one post of the DigiPal project blog which summarises the website and its functionality. Quoting from that, you can:

 Do have a look at the site and let us know what you think. And – just as importantly – do come and have a drink on us on Tuesday!

DH2014: DigiPal Poster

DH2014 Poster

The DigiPal project team presented this poster at DH2014 (for a full-size version see the DigiPal website). I’m happy to say that it attracted a lot of positive interest, with discussions including its current and (shortly) planned use on Latin, Hebrew and Greek alphabets, as well as decoration, in manuscripts, inscriptions and coins; potential applications to Indic scripts (possible but challenging) and Cuneiform (certainly possible); and even a member of the Unicode consortium expressing interest in our model for handwriting. There was also a lot of interest from people working in Computer Vision, especially now that our RESTful API allows anyone to harvest images of letters, complete with their annotations, for use as training material for machine learning. I look forward to seeing these uses after the project ends in six weeks or so, and my personal thanks goes to the whole DigiPal team for all the outstanding work they have done to make it possible.