*This event has been postponed and rescheduled for Friday, June 26, 2020

The Research Archives will be hosting a set of Historical Book Structure Workshops on Friday, June 26, 2020, in the Research Archives reading room. The details for the workshops are as follows:


The Research Archives will host a day-long historical book structure workshop with a lecture and handling session with Juila Miller followed by a replica creating session led by Catarina Figueirinhas. Space for these workshops is limited. RSVP is required. See below for RSVP links. If you plan on attending both sessions, you will need to RSVP for each separately. This event has been generously sponsored by UChicago Arts and the Oriental Institute.

Friday, June 26, 2020
8:00 AM–9:50AM: "Early Codex Binding Structures: Interpreting the Evidence through Modeling" by Julia Miller
9:50 AM–10:10 AM: Coffee Break
10:10 AM–12:00 PM: Handling and Observation of Early Codex Models and Q&A
12:00 PM–2:00 PM: Lunch Break (on your own)
2:00 PM–6:00 PM: Workshop on Nag Hammadi Codex VIII by Catarina Figueirinhas

"Early Codex Binding Structures: Interpreting the Evidence through Modeling" by Juila Miller
Friday, June 26, 2020 | Part 1: 8:00 AM–9:50AM, Part 2: 10:10 AM–12:00 PM


Our knowledge of the evolution of the codex and how early codices were constructed has come down to us in a “fragmented” fashion indeed, and on several levels: numerous early binding fragments turning up in our collections, scholarly descriptions of binding evidence that are sometimes incomplete or inaccurate, a lack of solid provenance for much of the evidence, scholarly revisions in dating manuscripts, and interventions that often obscure or destroy evidence. These factors create a problem for those interested in the history of the codex. One way to sort out the evolution of early codex bindings is to identify, describe, and model the structural information we do possess – working from this formula: certainty + uncertainty = a possible truth. This lecture will describe the evolution of early binding structures through a power point presentation on the physical evidence we have, combined with display and discussion of models of early structures, followed by an opportunity for the audience to handle the models and ask questions.

Julia Miller studies historical bindings with a focus on early codex structures, an interest developed as a book conservator working with the papyrus collection at the University of Michigan. She has published two books, her second, Meeting by accident – Selected Historical Bindings (The Legacy Press, 2018), includes a chapter on the Nag Hammadi Codices co-authored with Pamela Spitzmueller. She is series editor for Suave Mechanicals – Essays on the History of Bookbinding, contributing “Puzzle Me This: Early Binding Fragments in the Papyrology Collection of the University of Michigan Library” (Vol. 2, 2015). Julia visited Cairo as an independent scholar (2007), and as a team leader for a Getty Foundation project to survey the condition of manuscripts and bindings in the Coptic Museum Manuscript Archive (2009).

Nag Hammadi Codex VIII Workshop by Catarina Figueirinhas
Friday, June 26, 2020 | 2:00 PM–6:00 PM


In this workshop, participants will create a small historically accurate Nag Hammadi Codex VIII model, which can be used as a teaching tool or for display. The workshop will begin with a short overview of early codex formats, including the binding models of the Nag Hammadi codices. The Nag Hammadi Codices, also known as the “Gnostic Gospels,” were discovered in 1945 in the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. The Nag Hammadi Codices appear to have been written during the fourth century. These codices are among the oldest codices to have survived with their bindings still intact. There were thirteen codices found, but only eleven bindings have survived. The codices were leather bound with Coptic text written on papyrus sheets. The writings in these codices include fifty-two mostly Gnostic treatises, but they also include other works, such as the Corpus Hermeticum. One of the most famous writings is the Gospel of Thomas which is only complete in the Nag Hammadi Codices.

Catarina Figueirinhas is a Senior Conservation Specialist at the Preservation Lab, at the University of Cincinnati. Catarina earned her bachelor’s degree in Art Conservation from the Instituto Politécnico de Tomar and her master’s degree in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of Portugal. In addition, while working at the Preservation Lab, Catarina earned a master’s degree of Library and Information Science from Kent State University. Along with her passion for Conservation, she is deeply interested in the history of the book and early book forms, which has led her to take workshops at the American Academy of Bookbinding, the Morgan Conservatory and Rare Book School.