Parchments' Digital Images Archive

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Parchment is a document written on a specially processed animal skin. Only the most important and significant documents took the form of a parchment: royal privileges, donations, papal bulls, international agreements etc. These documents serve as sources for various sciences: history, art, sfragistics, paleography, history of religion, diplomacy and others. They also contain valuable data for the history of political and social life, history of social and legal family relations, historical geography, toponymy, genealogy and linguistics.

At present the Manuscripts Department of the Library of Lithuanian Academy of Sciences (LLAS) preserve 1412 parchments covering the period from the eleventh century to the beginning of the twentieth century. This is one of the largest collections of parchments in the Baltic States. Geographically, these parchments account for the objects in the territories of Lithuania, Poland, Byelorussia, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Austria and Italy. Among them are examples of the oldest written documents; some of them – privileges of Grand Dukes Vytautas and Jogaila of Lithuania – are the only ones in Lithuania.

For a long time these documents were accessible only to a narrow circle of scientists. However, the increased interest in the country’s history proved the need to make these collections available to a wider public. New technologies provide for a possibility to preserve original documents and make high quality copies of them.

The aim of the Parchments' Digital Images Archive is to make digital images of parchment documents preserved in the depository of the Manuscripts Department of LLAS available to everyone.

The present archive presents digital images of 121 parchments. The selected documents cover the earliest period: from 1187 to 1500. Only those in very good, good or satisfying condition are included; a number of them have been restored or underwent repairs. The digital image archive does not include fragments of documents of this period, neither the remains of the fifteenth century code.

Documents are accompanied by short archival descriptions in Lithuanian and English, arranged according to the Parchment Catalogue by Rimantas Jasas (1980). Personal names, place names, dates, document authenticity and bibliography have been revised.
For the more convenient search for the necessary documents, the list of all digitized parchments is provided, the indices of personal and place names have been prepared, and the documents are grouped according to their origin and chronology.

High quality digital copies can be studied at the Manuscripts Department of LLAS. Under special arrangement, readers and publishers may obtain copies of these images.

We express our sincere gratitude to the consultants Edmundas Rimša (Lithuanian Institute of History) and Marija Razmukaitė (Institute of Lithuanian Language) for their kind assistance.

We expect to develop and expand the Parchments' Digital Images Archive and our team is looking forward to your comments and suggestions.

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