Digitizing Dunhuang: The Virtual Recreation of a Mediaeval Library Cave
by Imre Galambos, Overseas Project Manager, IDP, British Library
The opening of the Dunhuang cave library in the early 1900’s has been the largest discovery of medieval manuscripts ever. The world’s earliest and largest paper archive, the cave’s contents included many unique documents, including the world’s earliest dated printed book (868 AD). Since then, the collection has been scattered across continents and is now housed in various institutions around the world, the largest ones being in London, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Beijing.
The International Dunjuang Project (IDP) at the British Library is a groundbreaking collaboration between the major holding institutions to make tens of thousands of manuscripts, paintings, and artifacts from Dunhuang and other Silk Road sites freely available on the Internet with top quality color images. Through its website and online database (http://idp.bl.uk) the project aims at reuniting the collection in virtual space. Thus in effect IDP is re-building the original cave library but, instead of sealing it, we are opening it up and making it accessible for all.
April 6, 2005
B4 Dwinell Hall