Greek Manuscripts Inside and Out: A Conservation Symposium and Workshop

The Polonsky Foundation Greek Manuscripts Project: a collaboration between the Universities of Cambridge and Heidelberg proudly presents Greek Manuscripts Inside and Out: A Conservation Symposium and Workshop. Joining us will be two very special guests – Georgios Boudalis and Nikolas Sarris . This event will be held on 20th-21st March 2020 at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DR, UK. Please see below for the programme and booking information.

An insight into the conservation department. Left: Testing the friability of pigments. Centre: Tear repair using caecum in progress. Right: Vulnerable areas stabilised with Japanese paper splints.

For booking information please use the following link:
Please note that the Friday symposium and Saturday workshops must be booked separately.

Our guest speakers

Georgios Boudalis

Dr Georgios Boudalis studied Fine Arts and Art Conservation in Florence, Athens, London and in Thessaloniki where since 2000 he has been the head of the book and paper conservation laboratory at the Museum of Byzantine Culture. He completed his PhD in 2005 on the evolution of Byzantine and post-Byzantine bookbinding and has since published on issues of bookbinding history and manuscript conservation. His main research interests are the evolution of bookbinding structures and techniques in the Eastern Mediterranean and how these can be studied using a combination of physical, written and iconographical evidence. Since 2006 he has been teaching courses on the making and history of Eastern Mediterranean bookbindings. He has been a visiting scholar and an adjunct professor at Bard Graduate Center in New York where in 2018 he curated the exhibition ‘The Codex and Crafts in Late Antiquity’ and published a book with the same title.


Nikolas Sarris

Dr Nikolas Sarris is a book and paper conservator at the National Library of Greece. He has been a lecturer of book and paper conservation on undergraduate courses in Greece and a conservator at the British Library. He worked as the supervisor of the conservation laboratory at the monastery of St John Theologian, Patmos, Greece, where he also organized the Patmos Workshops on Conservation and Historic Bookbinding. He has been part of the St Catherine’s Library Conservation Project team since 2001 and the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation for conservation and training projects at the National Library of Egypt, Cairo. He collaborated with the Ethio-SPARE project on the preservation and on-site conservation of Ethiopic manuscripts in Tigray, Ethiopia and with UNESCO on preservation training in libraries in Iraq. He has lectured widely on the topics of manuscript conservation and historic bookbinding. He received his PhD from the University of the Arts London on the study of tool decorated bookbindings from the Monastery of St Catherine in Sinai, Egypt.


Symposium – Friday 20th March 2020

£40 for the day (50 places max)




Welcome remarks

Suzanne Paul, Keeper of Rare Books and Early Manuscripts, Cambridge University Library


Surveys and Chevrons: a modern medieval conservation project

Preparation and early obstacles

-Treatment and workflow

-Outreach and major conservation projects

Shaun Thompson, Sam Foley & Cécilia Duminuco, Conservation and Collection Care Department




Digitising Medieval and Early Modern Greek Manuscripts

Mark Box, Digital Content Unit, Cambridge University Library


Plenary I: Focusing on endbands: structure, variety, and research

Georgios Boudalis, Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki


Lunch (included)


Tours of the Conservation Studio and Digital Content Unit


Binding Together the Material and the Textual: the Role of Cataloguing

Matteo Di Franco, Christopher Wright & Erika Elia, Department of Rare Books and Early Manuscripts, Cambridge University Library


Plenary II: Historical evidence from finishing tools and the tooled decoration of Byzantine bindings

Nikolas Sarris, Senior Book conservator, National Library of Greece



Parallel Sessions

Eastern Mediterranean Bookbinding


Georgios Boudalis

(25 places max)

Cataloguing Roundtable

Project Cataloguers

(15 places max)

Decoration of Byzantine Leather Covered Bindings Workshop

Nikolas Sarris

(12 places max)

Workshops – Saturday 21st March 2020

£60 for the day (16 places max – All materials provided)


Understanding the twining technique used in the endbands of the Eastern Mediterranean bindings

Georgios Boudalis

Introduction and hands-on workshop on the basic technique of twining which depending on small variations can produce as varied results as the Islamic endband, the Armenian and Syriac endband and the Byzantine ‘woven’ endbands.



Lunch (included)



The use and making of braided straps in Byzantine bookbinding

Nikolas Sarris

Introduction to the historical use and technique of producing the braided strap, a feature that is unique to Byzantine bindings. Participants will have the chance to make a pair of braided straps and in parallel they will be shown the process of applying these in a complete fastening system with metal pins and clasps.



We look forward to seeing you there!

Left: Rebound Greek manuscript, Epictetus CUL MS Ii.06.41. Middle: Medieval Greek manuscript, CUL MS Add.720. Right: Parchment gathering, CUL MS Add.1879.12.

If you are interested in the project please find more of our blogposts here:

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