Discover online: early achievements over one thousand years of Finnish literary history
On Wednesday, 28 March 2012, the National Library of Finland published the Kirjava keskiaika (Literary Middle Ages) online resource and the Fragmenta membranea database at the University of Helsinki Think Corner.
Created by Dr Tuomas Heikkilä’s research team, the Literary Middle Ages online publication traces the earliest Finnish literary history of almost a thousand years ago up until the 16th century. The publication includes digitised handwritten and printed books, text fragments, documents, works of art and everyday objects inscribed with lettering. Users can access a variety of information, from the development of international contacts and the “birth” of Finland to the use of texts in everyday life, the secrets of mediaeval bookmaking and the challenges to the modern scholar.
“This online publication disproves the notion that Finland was a culturally isolated country in the mediaeval period. Finland has had a diverse literary culture for the past one thousand years. A total of almost 19,000 preserved manuscript pages in various forms, of which 9,319 are parchments, are living proof of this fact,” says Tuomas Heikkilä.
Following the Protestant Reformation, church parchments were turned into the covers for account books, thus ensuring their preservation. In the 19th century, the covers were removed and safely deposited. In 2008 the National Library of Finland launched a research project which placed the parchments in the appropriate order and prepared them to be available to all scholars. The extensive material was compiled into the Literary Middle Ages resource for the general public (http://keskiaika.kansalliskirjasto.fi/) and the English-language Fragmenta membranea research database (http://fragmenta.kansalliskirjasto.fi/) for international scholars. This cultural achievement will save the first 500 years of Finnish literature for future generations.
Leading Finnish manuscript scholars created the Literary Middle Ages resource with the aim of making the material comprehensible to a wide audience and with support from the Kone Foundation. The Fragmenta membranea database is the result of collaboration between top scholars and the National Library and received support from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.
Dr Tuomas Heikkilä, University of Helsinki, tuomas.m.heikkila (at) helsinki.fi, tel. +358 50 360 2100Uutislistaus