On the trail of tagin and otijjot meshunnot

What do crowns on Hebrew letters connect with research data management?

Detail of the medieval Torah scroll Erfurt 7

Our new project 'Materialized Holiness', funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) aims to provide answers. In this project we are investigating medieval Torah scrolls in an interdisciplinary research collaboration.

Together with experts from Jewish Studies and the Social Sciences from the Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin) and Materials Research from the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM), we want to build a digital repository of knowledge that does justice to the complexity of this research subject. Unlike copies of the Bible, for example, the copying of sacred scrolls has been governed by strict regulations since antiquity, so every deviation in the typeface raises exciting research questions. The focus is not only on crowns (tagin) and ornaments (otijjot meshunnot), but also on an in-depth material analysis of the parchment and ink of the Torah scrolls.

In this project, SCC-DEM will develop a digital data infrastructure including a research data repository for the participating scholars over the next four years. As a central component, a 'virtual Torah scroll' will uncover handwritten details of the script and its significance in cultural memory.


Image credits: Ms. or. fol. 1216, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz, resolver.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/SBB00005F0A00000000


Danah Tonne