Their librarian is American from Boston, and he has been digitizing their library for several years now. My traveling companion was also a Boston librarian, and we had an amazing tour of the library. It was very strange to see, surrounded by ancient stone walls and crumbling manuscripts, top-of-the-line Macs, shelves of USB drives, and a giant digital camera in a room-size metal frame, with a cradle for resting books on.
I'm delighted to hear more such works are being preserved!
"Never been sacked" is important as well. Often books can get burned and destroyed during political upheaval, either intentionally (burn the books) or accidentially (the building with the books goes on fire).
When the Spanish conquered what is now Mexico, they destroyed all the Mayan books. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_codices#Background
> "We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they (the Maya) regretted to an amazing degree, and which caused them much affliction."
> Mari holds the key to much of our knowledge of this era. The site of Babylon has physically sunk over the years so that now the palace and archives of Hammurabi are below the water table and, presumably, reduced to mud
> As in the case of Ebla, the vast archive of thousands of documents from eighteenth-century [BC] Mari is preserved because the palace burned down. [...] Because of this, it is possible to read, in some of the letters baked and buried in the conflagration, about Hammurabi's relations with Mari in happier times.
Our documents from that period come from conquering kings who, in their zeal to raze enemy cities, forever preserved those cities' records. Literature wasn't as much of a presence then as it is now (tablets run to accounting and correspondence), but it (and history) existed; cf the epic of Gilgamesh.
The preservation strategy in every age has been data redundancy, but it's much easier to duplicate and copy digital information.
Glad we had all those monks copying the copies of copies so we still have all that ancient philosophy. =)
They could have put the digital copies up a long, long time ago if they had felt like it, but libraries are institutions of power and old attitudes die hard. I don't know what the new digitized copies will add, but I'm guessing that they will be in color and that they will also include the more modern manuscripts in the collection. There are more important reforms that they could divert their resources to, however, like better and more uniform indexing and cataloging. Perhaps these will follow, but even once (if) they put the copies on the Internet the state of the Vatican catalogs is such that it will be extremely difficult for any interested members of the public to approach the source material.
But there are loads of early Christian books / "gospels" that survive or rediscovered which are quite different from what's in the bible, and no-one really cares.
For example in 1945, a pile of early books were discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, including a Gospel of Thomas. There is a Infancy Gospel of Thomas from ~145CE which claims to talk about Jesus as a child, in which child Jesus uses his supernatural powers to kill children who bully him.
Have the revelations of all this "brought down the Catholic Chruch"?
The gospel claims that John's mother, Elizabeth, was just sort of "swallowed" by a mountain for a while, in what always struck me as a pretty hamfisted retcon.
But yeah, these have been available for a long time. Wider readership could possibly erode support for the Church, as people realize just how pedestrian and hamfisted some of the early Church writings were, and they might start to read the gospels more critically. Maybe, maybe not. The barrier to wider readership isn't a conspiracy so much as mass laziness though.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ has a large collection of writings relating to Christianity.
One of the reasons "no one cares" about a lot of the "quite different" books is that they haven't been established as being written in the same time period. The Gospel of Thomas has the strongest claim to being contemporary with the other gospels, but even that claim is fairly weak; the GoT appears to quote heavily from and allude to the other writings, as if it was written at a later date in response. My own read is that it's from around the time of Marcion.
Many of the other "gospels" appear to have been written much later, and they lack even basic historical credibility. The canonical gospels reference names and locations that are appropriate for 1st century Palestine (lots of guys named Simon, references to specific small villages), as if they were written by people who were at least familiar with the area at that time; many of the other gospels name Jesus, Mary, Jerusalem, and that's it, as if they were written by people from elsewhere who had heard the names but had no firsthand knowledge.
One of the other writings linked on that page (I forget whether it's Ignatius or someone else) actually discusses the gospels, describing the authorship of the four that are in the Bible. Many of the writings, including some that are in the Bible, warn against false teachers and distortions of the gospel.
The net result is that few people are either particularly surprised that there were "quite different" gospels, or are particularly inclined to treat them as credible.
It's a strange thing, actually, to see people reject older nonsensical beliefs while creating their owns devoid of all rationality.
This creates two issues for an institution as old and decentralised as the Catholic Church. Firstly, the church is not a corporation where processes and orders dictate the behaviour of employees and people are fired for insubordination. In practice it is highly decentralised, and the idea that it is centrally run by a single old man at the end of his life in Rome without access to a computer is farcical.
Secondly, the church is the oldest institution in the world. Even the United States, a 'modern' institution by historical standards, has to contend with the slaughter of native peoples, the enslavement of thousands of innocent human beings, countless wars (many of which have little to no serious justification), the destruction of the environment etc etc etc. And the US is by far the most just superpower by historical standards. In spite of all those things most people will agree that it has been an unprecedented force for human progress in its (relatively) short history.
Your comment was probably just a throwaway insult that didn't warrant such a detailed response but comments like it really irk me for some reason.
is pretty clear when you realize that only 4.3% of their profit is for charities that they _only stand for money_, they use the rest for privately own businesses (incl. hospitals and schools, but completely private and run like businesses)
They also (currently, not in the past) been linked with money-laundering ; by the way your premise of the organization being decentralized and consequently non-responsible for the doings of their members is false; specially when they have special access to far more financial secrecy than the average bank or person.
Plus they are still a great spot for pedophiles to do their things, even with the current pope they do not accept their bad handling of the acussations 
The reason many Catholics started coming to services again under the new Pope is not that they suddenly believed in God again, but that they feel the church has shifted to a stance they can support.(although it still has a ways to go IMO)
How does that disprove that the Catholic church might have prevented scientific progress?
> The new secular darling Bruno was not a scientist
And this are the know ones, if you don't think there is a single one outside those, you sir, are delusional (or just biased).
Rhazes - Muslims beat him over the head with his own book. Crazy stuff.
Sevetus - Executed for theological reasons. Ironically beaten to his scientific discovery by a Muslim, Ibn-al-Nafis who figured it out some 300 years earlier. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulmonary_circulation
Galileo - Well known, put under house arrest.
Domagk - Nazis kept him from getting his Nobel prize.
Einstein - Nazis got mad at him after he left the country.
Turing - Given hormone injections.
Blaming religion for the flaws of humanity got really old about 5 years ago. It reached its peak at Reddit but it's no longer popular. Turns out people realized that blaming an object (gun), a religion (islam, christianity), a movement (athiesm, feminism), or a philosophy (conservative, liberal) is dismissive of humanity's flaws.
When you get rid of religion, extremists do not go away, people find something else to be extreme about.
There's a small cluster of people who seem to think that, every time religion is mentioned, it's important to jump in and make negative comments no matter what the original topic is (and, on some sites, a small cluster of people who seem to think it's a good time to try to convert people.) The thing is, those comments (on both sides) are generally boring and unenlightening, two things we don't like to see on Hacker News.
The idea that a group is digitizing a whole bunch of ancient documents is interesting and has potentially deep intellectual consequences for people interested in researching the topics covered in the ancient documents as well as for those interested in other ancient documents that might be digitized using the knowledge gained from this project.
Kvetching about how harmful religion X is or was in the past is boring. Nobody in this thread has said anything genuinely new or insightful; you can hear these exact sentiments just by making a religious comment in a semi-public way (with a large group of friends, on FaceBook, etc.) On other sites they might provoke a flamewar, but here on HN we prefer comments to be thought-provoking. We downvote flamebait. Consider it a signal from the HN community: make more thoughtful and worthwhile contributions.
It was silly for OP to pick on the Catholic church when all throughout history, from World War 1 and 2, to the African Genocides, and the inter European wars, and the Mongolian & Muslim invasions, and the European colonizations, and the Japanese massacres, and the Chinese wars and communist caused famines.... Hundreds of millions have died needlessly. We should look past it and be glad we as humans have evolved past those points. Human beings take advantage of large groups, infiltrate them and use them as their personal armies. Sometimes to do good, sometimes to do bad.
The OP got downvoted into unreadable "grey hell" for a broad comment that brought nothing thought provoking.
Something tells me "definitely not"...but I wasn't able to find anything conclusive on the site.
These should all be public domain. Is there anyone besides Google and the Vatican that watermark public domain works?
I'm pretty sure the Vatican's got to "ruin" the images with a watermark or anyone would be able to use them as is for whatever they want. It'd be different if it was sculpture, but these pics seem to me like they'd definitely fall into the "slavish reproduction of a public domain work" category.
Some of the early maps of Ireland (from 1840s) have been scanning and rectified and put online by the Ordenance Survey of Ireland. But they're all copyrighted by them, and you can't have them. (they're viewable here http://maps.osi.ie/ )
One definitely wonders at some point whether the whole thing is organized as a conspiracy to confuse new Ph.D. students!
It did not help that one of her advisors had published a paper on homosexual marriage in a roman church in the late XVI century [0, 1]
A more likely reason why your friend had such a hard time was Napoleon, who made a policy of transferring all the grand archives of the countries he conquered back to Paris. An enormous number of documents were lost during the transfer and the eventual repatriation, somewhere around one third. Records relating to Galileo's trial were lost, for example. Of course, the most likely reason that your friend and I had difficulty is just the incredibly user-unfriendly systems of cataloging that the ASV uses.
At the risk of sounding like an apologist for the Vatican, I should also point out that the fact that these archives are open at all is remarkable. These aren't a national archive, for instance, where the state maintains records as a service for its citizens and to keep the nation's heritage alive. The ASV is quite simply the dumping ground for the Vatican's bureaucracy over the past 1700 or so years. They don't owe this to anyone.
It would be like if Microsoft pooled all documents generated by HR, marketing, product development, engineering, legal, and its other divisions, physically dumped them in various containers over the centuries, and one day in the year 3749 A.D. announced that the public could rifle through the papers if they wanted to. The immediate impetus would be to demonstrate that Office 3750 was not in fact part of an anti-competitive plot to secure a monopoly on productivity software sold in Alpha Centauri and Venus. But by 3800 A.D., that original purpose would have been long forgotten and researchers, regardless of which office suite they use, would be able to mine the archives for anything that anyone working for Microsoft ever said, did, or observed during the work day, so long as those thoughts were captured on some format that eventually made its way to paper.
...to make the analogy more complete, let's also assume that most of the other major institutions and their archives have been wiped out by this time. What ends up happening, then, is that researchers in 3749 A.D. dig through MS' archives for glimmers of things like what people ate during the day in 2014 or what sort of music they listened to.
“All manuscipts digitised through this operation will be released on the Vatican Apostolic Library's website as high-definition data. As a result, numerous researchers in the fields of academia and in various fields of knowledge will be able to interpret the valuable manuscripts, to which access had long been restricted, in their original form”, declared the president of the NTT Data Corporation.
Has anybody else though about just how fragile data is these days I mean these books/manuscripts are ancient?
What is the likelihood of any of our data surviving for over 1000 years in the digital realm?
We need a long therm digital data archive or we risk loosing a lot of important but not very popular data since the internet favors popularity over importance.
Personally, rather than data storage, i'm much more concerned about the formats and the OS we use for our files - will they still be supported 50-100 years down the road ? For the ones which are open-sourced, maybe, but how about all the proprietary formats ? How can we ensure they will remain readable ?
So for your example you'd transfer from floppy disk to bluray.
Long term storage medium capacity doesn't need to progress in line with regular storage mediums it just need to be updated once it's too out of sync.
The old data can stay on the old version since there's no urgency in transferring it over as long as the spec for it is kept on the latest medium a reader can always be built to read it.
We tend to worry about not having devices to read it but given how 3D printers are progressing having the spec and building a replacement reader should be easy enough.
> The project consists of an initial four-year phase during which three thousand manuscripts will be digitised, which may be extended into a second phase to include the 82,000 volumes – more than 40 million pages – of manuscripts preserved in the Library and dating from between the second and twentieth centuries.
It's going to be slow but it's a step in the right direction.