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Wednesday, May 31 • 9:00am - 9:30am
(Book & Paper + Research & Technical Studies) - The Codex Eyckensis (8th century). Re-evaluation of the 20th century restoration & conservation treatments

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The Codex Eyckensis was most probably written at the scriptorium of Echternach (Luxembourg) in the 8th century, and was brought to Aldeneik (northeast Belgium) by Saint Willibrord. This restrained pre-Carolingian codex is a splendid example of the dynamic confluence in the 8th century of the insular formal idiom and the artistic characteristics developing on the European mainland. After the drastic conservation treatment of 1957 with heat sealing plastic foil, the Codex Eyckensis (8th century) was fully conserved in the nineteen-nineties by removing the Mipofolie lamination of the parchment and recreating the missing areas with parchment pulp. Since the conservation was finished in 1992, the manuscript was kept in the crypt of the Saint Catherine's church, a place with a highly instable climate. After 25 year the need for a re-assessment of the Codex Eyckensis urges itself, the more that the possibilities for in depth research have developed considerable. In the ongoing survey, the condition of the parchment and the stability of the leafcasting with parchment pulp is evaluated. Multispectral imaging and material-technical analyses aim to shed light on the condition and the creation of the writing and illuminations of the pre-Carolinian codex. In the new study project (2016-2018), 25 years after, the codex will be re-assessed using non-destructive analytical and imaging techniques. Linking conservation information of the past (1992) with new data, will evaluate protocols applied at the end of the 20th century and contribute to the future preservation of the Codex Eyckensis. During the campaign in the nineteen-nineties, no material technical analyses have been carried out. The combination of XRF, XRF-mapping and Raman spectroscopy are used to characterize the materials and inks used in the Codex Eyckensis. The removed Mipofolie foils have been archived since the treatment in 1992. These foils were highly adhering to the parchment, it was not always possible to remove the PVC foils without removing some small paintfragments. These are analyzed using complementary but destructive analysis techniques aiming at the identification of organic components (binder/colourant). Complementary with the analytical data, imaging will contribute to the condition evaluation and material characterization. Within the framework of RICH (KU Leuven) a multispectral, multi-directional, portable and dome-shaped acquisition system has been developed to imagine with photometric stereo. Visualisation of pigments can be realized based on reflection maps. These findings are evaluated using the data obtained in a laboratory set-up and using the data obtained through XRF, XRF-mapping and Raman. The new assessment and technical study of the Codex Eyckensis is reflecting the complex material and conservation history of the 8th century codex. As the treatment was well documented 25 years ago, the new data are adding multiple layers of information. This research provides new insights into the origin and the creation of the illuminations and contributes to the in depth knowledge of the oldest manuscript kept in the Low Countries. The study gives reflection to the dynamics of conservation history, the importance of ongoing data collecting, revealing new challenges in technical documentation with recent imaging techniques and non-destructive analytical tools.


Lieve Watteeuw

Head of the Book Heritage Lab, University of Leuven - KU Leuven
Lieve Watteeuw, who holds a PhD in Art History (2008) and a MA in the Conservation-Restoration of Graphic Materials (1988), focuses her academic research on medieval manuscript illumination, book production, imaging and art-technical research, and conservation/preservation strategies... Read More →


Marina Van Bos

Scientific Researcher, Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage
Marina Van Bos, PhD in Chemistry (UGent), is working in the laboratories of the KIK-IRPA since 1991. Her most important research activities are situated in two domains. Within the Leather, paper and parchment laboratory she is responsible for the identification of the different components... Read More →
avatar for Bruno Vandermeulen

Bruno Vandermeulen

Head of Imaging Lab, KU Leuven, University Library
Bruno Vandermeulen holds an MA in Fine Arts, Photography from the LUCA School of Arts, Brussels, Belgium. Since 2002 he is employed at the KU Leuven. He has wide experience in inventarisation and digitization projects in the field of cultural heritage on local, national and international... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 9:00am - 9:30am CDT
Regency A-B Ballroom Level, West Tower