Union Académique Internationale

Codices Latini Antiquiores (CLA)

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Project nº10a, adopted in 1930

Codices Latini Antiquiores ("The More Ancient Latin Manuscripts"), generally abbreviated CLA, is a catalogue of all surviving manuscripts in Latin (whether codices or scrolls) written before the 9th century. The complete title of the work is Codices Latini Antiquiores: A Paleographical Guide to Latin Manuscripts Prior to the Ninth Century. Elias Avery Lowe founded the project in 1929 and directed it himself until his death in 1969. At the beginning of the 20th century, the history of Latin script was insufficiently known and based only on partial analyses. The need for a complete catalogue of early manuscripts, with an international character, was strongly felt in order to evaluate the differences in importance between the various cultural centres of book production, the transmission of ancient culture, and the creation of new ways of writing. CLA covers only literary works; this includes legal texts but not documentary texts such as charters. It comprises 11 volumes, organized according to the current location of the manuscripts. These were followed by a supplement in 1971 and two sets of addenda published in 1985 and 1992. Paleography is the foundational principle of the project: every entry is accompanied by a photograph of the manuscript in black and white, in a 1:1 scale, along with a description of its contents, its state of preservation, the kind of writing used, and the possible date and geographical origin. CLA is a major work for the understanding of the history of writing during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. The collection, representing the masterwork of Elias Avery Lowe during his activity at Princeton University, had its roots in Lowe's doctoral thesis about the oldest calendars from Monte Cassino (1908) under the direction of Ludwig Traube. R. A. B. (Roger Aubrey Baskerville) Mynors (1903–1989), professor of Latin at Oxford University and editor, coauthored the last volumes. The German palaeographer Bernhard Bischoff worked on CLA starting from 1933, and is responsible for many of the descriptions. He subsequently embarked on a comparable catalogue of ninth-century continental manuscripts which remained unfinished at his death; two volumes have since appeared, covering libraries alphabetically from Aachen to Paderborn The project was adopted by the UAI in 1930 on the initiative of the American Council of Learned Societies.