Inventory of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery (1615): An Experience of Using Spectrosonal Visualization to Reconstruct the History of the Text

Print PDF

Scientific article

УДК 94(470)+930.2:003.074+94(271.2)

DOI 10.28995/2073-0101-2021-3-651-664

Evgeny A. Lyakhovitskii

St. Petersburg Institute of History of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation

Inventory of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery (1615): An Experience of Using Spectrosonal Visualization to Reconstruct the History of the Text


The article describes the results of a codicological study of the Inventory of the Kirillo-Belozersky (St. Cyrill of Beloozero) Monastery (1615). The main codicological problem for the researchers posed by this monument is its numerous and asynchronical edits. It is possible to identify edit layers by studying the ink by means of spectrosonal imaging in near-IR wavelength region of the spectrum. This method is based on the property of inks (except those with a carbon base) to acquire transparency beyond the visible region of the spectrum (after 700 nm). As additional information, visually observed (in natural indirect daylight) color differences between inks have been used, as well as color estimation using a digital portable microscope Dinolite with Dinoscope software. As a result of the study, the main stages of work on the Inventory have been established. A significant part of the marginalia are in the same ink and handwriting as the main text: brown, with moderate transparency in near-IR wavelength region. Thus, the text was probably supplemented in the course of creation. This edit was accompanied by the text on the insert sheets made in ink that is slightly translucent in the IR region of the spectrum and has a dark brown color. The same ink was used in the main text of the manuscript. When the main text was rewritten in 1616-1617, it was compiled in a codex and significantly revised for the first time. The marker of this revision stage is light brown and yellowish-brown ink with high degree of transparency in IR wavelength region of the spectrum. In addition to the editing, the notebooks are numbered in the same light brown ink. The edit of this layer mainly included clarifications to the items description. The next significant revision of the inventory text, marked with brown ink that has low transparent in the IR wavelength region of the spectrum, refers to the period after July 22, 1621. Most of these edits, as well as the earlier ones, were devoted to clarifying descriptions, to clarifying location of objects, and to describing the monastery’s acquisitions and losses. Apparently, the later stage of editing is associated with the use of gray-brown ink, similar in spectral behavior to the ink of the main text. The record of the contribution of Prince Khvorostinin made in 1622–23 was written in this ink.


Historical source, spectrosonal visualization, codicology, textology, Kirillo-Belozersky monastery, ink, Ancient Russian writing, monastic inventories.

Download the article: lyakhovitskii_doi


DMITRIEVA, Z. V. Vytnye i opisnye knigi Kirillo-Belozerskogo monastyrya XVI-XVII vv. [Tax and inventory books of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery of the 16th – 17th centuries. In Russ.]. St. Petersburg, Dmitrii Bulanin publ, 2003, 346 p.

LYAKHOVITSKII, E. A, TSYPKIN, D. O. Infrakrasnaya vizualizatsiya teksta v izuchenii pamyatnikov drevnerusskoi pis'mennosti [Infrared text visualization in the study of Ancient Russian written monuments]. IN: Istoricheskaya informatika, 2019, no. 4, pp. 148–156.

TSYPKIN, D. O. Ponyatie pocherka v izuchenii russkogo istoricheskogo pis'ma: K problem razrabotki metodologii pocherkovedcheskogo analiza drevnerusskikh rukopisei [On the problem of developing methodology for handwriting analysis of Old Russian manuscripts. In Russ.]. IN: Trudy Otdela drevnerusskoi literatury, 2016, vol. 64, pp. 836–881.

CHIAVARI, G., MONTALBANI, S., PRATI, S., KEHEYAN, Y, BARONI, S. Application of analytical pyrolysis for the characterization of old inks. IN: Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, 2007, no. 80, pp. 400–405.

COLINI, C. et al. The quest for the mixed inks. IN: Manuscript Cultures, 2018, vol. 11, pp. 41–48

GHIGO,T. et al. An attempt at a systematic study of inks from Coptic manuscripts. IN: Manuscript Cultures, vol. 11, 2018, pp. 157–164.

KIM, K.-J., EOM, T.-J. Printing Inks of The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty. IN Restaurator, 2018, vol. 39, iss. 1, pp. 19–32

RABIN, I. et al. Combining codicology and X-ray spectrometry to unveil the history of production of the Codex germanicus 6 (Staats- und Universit?tsbibliothek Hamburg). IN: Manuscript Cultures, 2014, vol. 7, pp. 126–131

About the authors

Lyakhovitskii Evgenii Alexandrovitch, PhD in History, Russian National Library, Federal Center for the Preservation of Library Collections, head of the center, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, +7-911-925-26-67, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Grant Information

The study was supported by the Russian Science Fond, project no. 20-78-10060.

Submitted 23.04.2021, published (for citation):

LYAKHOVITSKII, E. A. Opis' Kirillo-Belozerskogo monastyrya 1615 g.: opyt ispol'zovaniya spektrozonal'noi vizualizatsii dlya rekonstruktsii istorii teksta [Inventory of the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery for 1615: An Experience of Using Spectrosonal Visualization to Reconstruct the History of the Text. In Russ.]. IN: Vestnik arhivista / Herald of an Archivist, 2021, no. 3, pp. 651-664. doi 10.28995/2073-0101-2021-3-651-664

You can read completely article in the russian historic-archival magazine “The Herald of an Archivist”. Read more about terms of subscription here.

Полностью материал публикуется в российском историко-архивоведческом журнале ВЕСТНИК АРХИВИСТА. Ознакомьтесь с условиями подписки здесь.