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Compositiones Variae

Compositiones Variae

A Late 8th Century Artists' Technical Treatise

By (author) Thea Burns


  • An academic insight into one of the oldest recipe books in the world
  • Discover the relevence of this manuscript's physical form to its medieval audience
Full Description

Compositiones Variae is the earliest surviving example of medieval artisanal recipes. Translated into Latin from a Hellenistic source and copied at Lucca, it is thought to preserve technical knowledge extant in Tuscany from around 800 CE, and to have offered practical assistance to the Lucca scriptorium. Studies of the text have examined its historical and liturgical contents; however, its intriguing physical and material features have largely been ignored. As medieval manuscript culture conveyed meaning through textual content and physical object, both should be considered equally. This new publication is among the first to take such a holistic approach. The significance of the Compositiones Variae becomes apparent when its context is reconstructed, using evidence supplied by numerous other texts. An investigation of functional relationships – production, uses, practices and preservation: in short, what the object’s materiality represents – reveals the Compositiones Variae as a social product that can only be approached from a historicist’s critical perspective. Compositiones Variae situates this seminal text within the socio-cultural history of medieval knowledge and power.

Archetype Publications
21st Apr 2017
Paperback / softback
USA & Canada
6.86 in x 9.81 in
224 Pages
20 color, 6 b&w
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