The modern legal system rests on several pillars of legal thought. In the West, Gaius’s Institutes, the only surviving record of Roman law, is taught in every introduction to legal studies at universities across the world. Unfortunately, the only manuscript of it is a severely damaged palimpsest. In the Eastern tradition, the Koran serves as the legal template. The oldest Koran, however, has scratch-outs and changes in key passages whose undertext, recoverable with technology, holds the potential to upend Islamic precedent. With detailed new images, this lecture, considers the history and future of both manuscripts. It concludes with a discussion of the role of AI in textual recovery.
Founder of the discipline of textual science, and director of the Lazarus Project, Gregory Heyworth is a medievalist and codicologist by training and a scientist by avocation with degrees from Columbia (BA, English), Cambridge (BA, English), and Princeton (Ph.D., Comparative Literature). Author of Desiring Bodies: Ovidian Romance and the Cult of Form (2009), and editor of the 14th century Les Eschez D’Amours, whose second volume he has just finished, he has also recently been granted a patent for Multispectral Polarimetric Imaging for Noninvasive identification of Nerves and other Tissues.
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