Detailansichten des Codex Aureus von St. Emmeram | © BSB/IBR

Material science and art technology. Research at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Gold and silver, ivory and precious stones, gems and cameos, precious fabrics and enamels: Medieval gospel books and other liturgical books were provided with valuable bindings since the time of late antiquity. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek preserves an internationally unique collection of goldwork and ivory bindings among its collections, which have fascinated the viewer for over a thousand years.

Driven by the possibilities of instrumental analysis, there is great research interest in the craftsmanship, the materials, recipes and production methods. For this reason, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek receives an increasing number of inquiries about material-scientific and art-technological issues, which cannot be answered without corresponding analysis and expertise.

To be in a position to work on these research approaches using its own competencies, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has created a new sector of material science and art technology and equipped it with state-of-the-art technology. Against the background of its exceptionally rich and valuable collections, this strategic decision thus makes the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek the first German library to establish itself as a research partner also in the field of scientific analysis, in order to be able to actively shape projects with cooperation partners on a national and international level. The new sector can be embedded seamlessly in the existing institutional cooperation between the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the Technical University of Munich, within the scope of which research projects are carried out on "books and paper" in the degree course restoration, art technology and science of conservation.

The video clip shows the goldwork binding of the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram in an HD rotation recording made under the 3D digital microscope. Spectroscopic analysis now permits technically for the first time to make these works of art retrievable and researchable on the screen on the basis of 3D microscopic recordings and material-scientific data on metals and gemstones.

32 chalice-shaped settings alone frame the central representation of the Christ in majesty embossed in a gold plate. The large sapphires and emeralds set in borders of acanthus leaves resemble splendiferous, coloured roofs of an antique temple complex, since many settings have the shape of small porticoes. Pearls shine in round bezel settings in a ring of beaded wire between three-leaved glass inlays and surface granulation.


Picture credits header image:
Detail views of the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram | © BSB/ IBR