September 16, 2008

Introduction & Background

The codicology of ancient Chinese manuscripts is a vast and fascinating subject. For the purposes of this study, I have chosen to concentrate on the large collection of manuscripts discovered at Dunhuang in 1900. More than 40,000 artifacts have been recovered from a series of Buddhist caves, many of them Chinese manuscripts dating from the first century B.C.E. up until the late 10th century A.D.

These valuable documents were scattered all over the world, but a recent initiative called the International Dunhuang Project is using digitization to bring the entire collection together for the purposes of research and conservation. Their efforts have made more than 20,000 of the manuscripts available in digital form.

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