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Heritage 2019, 2(1), 452-466; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage2010031

Studies on the Wooden Box Containing the “Marco Polo” Bible

Dipartimento di Architettura e Studi Urbani, Politecnico di Milano, Observatory for Conservation of Wood Works, P.zza L. da Vinci 26, 20133 Milano, Italy
Received: 26 October 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 9 January 2019 / Published: 30 January 2019
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to present the results of research undertaken on a wooden box that holds an important historical book: a hand Bible handwritten in the thirteenth century. Tradition connects this Bible to the name of Marco Polo (Venice, 1254–1324), who was supposedly the owner—the book possibly accompanied him on his travels (1262 and 1271) to China. The Bible is of fine workmanship and written on thin parchment, and its container—along with a yellow silk cloth—are preserved in the ancient and prestigious Laurentian Library in Florence. The manuscript was in very poor condition and was being restored during the period of study (2011). Surveys were carried out to determine the place and period of manufacture of the box, and to determine if it was contemporary to or later than the manuscript it contained or whether it was made in China or Europe. An additional aim of the work was to demonstrate that a fast and inexpensive in situ survey under imperfect time and space conditions was possible using in-depth observation and simple tools as well as a portable microscope, all performed without sampling. During the restoration process, a team of experts used instruments helpful in determining the chemical composition of the paper and related ink. Other specialists studied the paleography of the text. The results indicate that the Bible is definitely from the same period as Marco Polo. Nothing excludes the possibility that Marco Polo may have seen it or lived not too far from this manuscript, which traveled in a small wooden box, wrapped in a precious yellow silk cloth. View Full-Text
Keywords: wooden object; cultural heritage; history; direct sources; macroscopic analysis wooden object; cultural heritage; history; direct sources; macroscopic analysis
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Augelli, F. Studies on the Wooden Box Containing the “Marco Polo” Bible. Heritage 2019, 2, 452-466.

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