In close collaboration with Prof. Lieve Watteeuw (Illuminare – Centre for the Study of Medieval Art), the Imaging Lab meticulously digitised the Codex Eyckensis. The codex is the oldest preserved “book” produced in the Low Countries, the wider area encompassing contemporary Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The Codex can now be accessed online through LIBIS.A mobile lab for the digitisation of the manuscript was build in the treasury of Saint Catherine’s church in Maaseik so it could be examined and digitised in situ.
The Codex Eyckensis, an eighth-century Gospel Book from the treasury of Saint Catherine’s church in Maaseik, is an exceptional testimonial to the particular status of the written word, one of the earliest artistic creations in manuscript form and in the religious culture of the Low Countries. This early Carolingian Codex was produced around the year 760, during the initial phase of the Christianisation of the European mainland from Anglo-Saxon lands, when Irish and English missionaries brought the culture of writing to the European continent.
The Gospel Book was probably written in the scriptorium of the Abbey of Echternach and subsequently brought to the Abbey of Aldeneik by Saint Willibrod. There it was preserved and worshipped in the context of the adoration of Saint Harlindis and Saint Relindis. In the year 1571, the Codex Eyckensis was moved from the Abbey of Aldeneik to the crypt of Saint Catherine’s church in Maaseik (northeast Belgium), where it has been kept and preserved ever since.
The eighth-century manuscript was digitised not only for the people of Maaseik, but also for an international public of researchers. From this perspective, the team chose to work with Mirador Viewer implemented by LIBIS (University of Leuven). This platform allows the visitor to explore high-resolution images. It gives them the ability to zoom, display, compare and annotate the images of the codex.
Besides giving access to this manuscript through a web-based platform, the team also paid attention to digital preservation on a long-term basis, one of the main goals of UNESCO. The data was uploaded to Teneo, the digital preservation environment deployed by LIBIS.
To raise the digitalisation process to an international level, the codex will be made available on Europeana, Erfgoedplus and Musea Maaseik.