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Jordanus

Jordanus, an International Catalogue of Mediaeval Scientific Manuscripts, provides information about mediaeval manuscripts written in Western Europe between 500 and 1500 A.D., which deals with mathematical sciences, i.e. arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and mechanics. It is the result of research projects that were funded by the Volkswagen Foundation (1977-1985) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (1985-1989).

The database aims at providing information on almost all mathematical texts written in western languages contained in mediaeval manuscripts (i.e. manuscripts written before 1500 A. D.). Most of the texts concern arithmetics, algebra, geometry and trigonometry.

The majority of the sources were written in Latin, but manuscripts written in vernacular languages, such as French, German, Italian, English and Spanish, have also been included. No strict boundaries have been set, so that manuscripts from other mathematical sciences (such as astronomy, optics, hydraulics and military engineering) and also from adjacent fields (such as physics and medicine) have been incorporated as well. No attempt, however, has been made to undertake a systematic search for these manuscripts. Also, manuscripts written after 1500 A.D. were not left aside, so that in fact the database also contains information about many more recent manuscripts — up to university lectures from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Most of the data entered in the database come from printed and unpublished catalogues of manuscripts. These data were inserted into the database ICCMSM (now: Jordanus) by several revisors during the late 70s and early 80s. At the moment approximately 13.000 manuscripts are included in the database.

At the same time as descriptions of manuscripts were collected, copies of these manuscripts were acquired, thus building an archive of mathematical texts in mediaeval Western manuscripts. At present the archive is located in the library of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica in Munich. It contains copies of more than 5000 manuscripts.

In view of the long period of data acquisition and the large amount of data available, inconsistencies are inevitable. In many cases these are due to mistakes in entering data. It was not possible to present the names of the authors in a standardized form. Thus one and the same mediaeval author may occur in the database under different names and under different spellings of these names. Also the titles of the works have not been standardized. For these and other shortcomings we kindly ask the user for their understanding.

Comments and corrections are welcome. Please send these by email to: M.Folkerts@lmu.de.