A world in fragments: GKS 1812 4to and medieval encyclopedic literature

A world in fragments: GKS 1812 4to and medieval encyclopedic literature

Viðey Island
October 20–21, 2016

gks_1812_4to_0002r___4_360The conference is held to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the publication of Icelandic medieval encyclopedic texts under the title Alfræði íslenzk I–III. The three volumes were published in 1908–1918 by Samfund til udgivelse for gammel nordisk litteratur. The main editor was the Danish scholar Kristian Kålund, but the second volume, which contains calendars, was edited jointly by Kålund and Natanaël Beckman.

One of the most important manuscripts which Kålund and Beckman based their edition on is GKS 1812 4to — the focal point of this conference. The manuscript was for a long time preserved in the Royal library in Copenhagen, but was transferred to Iceland in 1984.

GKS 1812 4to, which may have been kept in the monastery in Viðey for a time, is one of the most important Icelandic medieval encyclopedic manuscripts extant. It consists of 36 folios which are the remains of at least three vellum books. The oldest part of the manuscript dates from around 1190–1200 and includes e.g. an Icelandic–Latin glossary, texts on the reckoning of time and a chapter from The Book of Icelanders. The second-oldest part consists of four folios from a manuscript dating from the second quarter of the 13th century. It includes, among other things, a mappa mundi, cosmological drawings, a calendarium and writings on time-reckoning. The youngest parts are fragments of a 14th-century manuscript and mainly contain writings on astronomy and calendar studies, including drawings of nine signs of the Zodiac and the division of philosophy.

Thirteen speakers from different fields within medieval studies are invited to the conference. They will discuss the manuscript and its topics from a wide range of perspectives.

Conference registration

Conference program

Thursday, 20 October 2016

9.30–10.15 The Edition

  • Ragnheiður Mósesdóttir (University of Copenhagen) – Icelandic encyclopaedic literature in the hands of Kristian Kålund & Natanael Beckmann

10.15–10.30 Coffee

10.30–11.45 The Manuscript

  • Svanhildur Óskarsdóttir (Institute of Árni Magnússon) – Fragments United: The Codicology of GKS 1812 4to
  • Haraldur Bernharðsson (University of Iceland) – GKS 1812 4to: Scribes and scribal practice

12.00–12.45 Latin Glosses

  • Åslaug Ommundsen (University of Bergen) – Latin memory aids in GKS 1812 4to

13.00–14.00 Lunch

14.15–15.30 Computus and Astronomy

  • Þorsteinn Vilhjálmsson (University of Iceland) – Indigenous Observations or Imported Texts: The Origins of Medieval Icelandic Manuscripts on Science
  • Christian Etheridge (University of Southern Denmark) – From Carolingian star maps to Arabic astronomical instruments: Assessing the different types of astronomy represented by the hands of GKS 1812 I 4to and GKS 1812 II 4to

15.30–16.00 Coffee

16.00–17.15 Medieval Mathematics

  • Abdelmalek Bouzari (École normale supérieure, Algiers) – Le Calculus dans al-Khwârizmî (d. 850): une example de circulation.
  • Kristín Bjarnadóttir (University of Iceland): Algorismus – Hindu-Arabic arithmetic in GKS1812 4to

17.30–18.15 Icelandic Astronomers in the Middle Ages

  • Marteinn H. Sigurðsson (Íslenzk fornrit) – The Homecoming of Sæmundr and Stjörnu-Oddi’s Dream: Star-gaziong Lore in Medieval Iceland

18.30 Reception and conference dinner

Friday, 21 October 2016

9.30–10.45 Mapping the World

  • Alfred Hiatt (Queen Mary University of London) – Time and the map
  • Dale Kedwards (Centre for Medieval Literature, SDU) – An Icelandic world map and the Ark treatises of Hugh of Saint Victor

10.45–12.00 Fragments of Medieval Learning

  • Gunnar Harðarson (University of Iceland) – Medieval Encyclopedias and Icelandic Manuscripts
  • Guðrún Nordal (Institute of Árni Magnússon) – The long shadow of Ari Þorgilsson: The learned context of the earliest sections of GKS 1812

12.00–13.00 Lunch

Conference closing

Conference program (pdf)