Wikidata:WikiProject Manuscripts/LXX

Septuaginta manuscripts

Project description


This page documents our efforts to bring data from the Septuaginta Catalogue to Wikidata. It is based on an informal cooperation between Wikidata User Jonathan Groß and the Göttinger Septuaginta project.

The Septuagint is a translation of the Old Testament and other books from Hebrew into Greek that was created in Ptolemaic Egypt over a long process, starting around 250 BCE and finishing at the latest around 100 CE – although according to the legendary tradition of the Aristeas letter, the translation of the Torah was done within 72 days by 72 translators, each working on their own translation, and by divine inspiration producing 72 exactly identical versions. Hence the Latin name of the work, septuaginta, from the number of the translators and days rounded down to 70.

The Septuagint has been the object of intensive study for hundreds of years and has a rich manuscript tradition with over 2,300 known exemplars (some of which are no longer extant, others torn apart and dispersed over several collections all around the world). The Rahlfs catalogue was the first comprehensive catalogue of these manuscripts. Created by Alfred Rahlfs and published in 1914, it was a cornerstone of textual research on the Septuagint and a vital step in creating critical editions of its parts. Home to these efforts was the Göttinger Septuaginta-Unternehmen, funded by the Göttingen Academy of Sciences from 1908 to 2015. Since 2016, the editorial efforts are coordinated by the Academy's Kommission zur Edition und Erforschung der Septuaginta.

For the new Rahlfs catalogue, during a first project phase from January 2020 to June 2023, a total of 1,300 Greek manuscripts were described. Since July 2023 the catalogue is available online under the URL The database contents are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. In a second project phase running from July 2023 to December 2026, the remainder of the manuscripts will be described as well. The project supervisor has agreed to share their basic data with Wikidata in order to connect and benefit the two databases.

Data description


The database has basic information on all witnesses available in tabular data ( (Rahlfs number, Place, Library and Shelf Mark, Content, Date, Images available). Entries for individual manuscripts are modelled as follows:

  1. Unique identifier: Rahlfs Number preceded by the catalogue URL and a prefix "Ra_"
  2. Heading: Rahlfs Number
    1. Location and material properties of the manuscript:
      1. Place, holding institution, shelf mark and (sometimes) folia (in bold)
      2. External identifiers: Diktyon, Trismegistos, LDAB, BerlPap
      3. Dating, material, number of folia, dimensions (sometimes with two values for leaf size and text area), layout (columns, lines per page), script style, scribes, commissioners, possessors
      4. A short text describing the manuscript, mostly in regards to its contents, sometimes creation circumstances, provenance, unique qualities.
    2. "Content" (detailed with page numbers)
    3. "Catalogue" (bibliography with links to digital copies)
  3. Statements about the catalogue entry: author, copyright, license, permalink, publication date and bug report.

Anciliary resources


Tasks and progress

  1. ✓ Done Phase 1: Import basic data into Wikidata:
    ✓ Done (2023-10-09) Receive tabular data (1,599 rows): Rahlfs Numbers, Trismegistos IDs and Diktyon IDs. For now, 1585 out of these 1599 are published and viewable as of 2023-10-21. The manuscripts not yet published include some of the prominent Uncials which already have Wikidata items. So URLs to the Rahlfs catalogue from these items will not resolve.
    ✓ Done (2023-10-09) Create TSV file with complete URLs, Rahlfs Numbers, Catalogue IDs, Trismegistos IDs (Trismegistos text ID (P8532))
    ✓ Done (2023-10-09) Match Catalogue entries with Wikidata items using OpenRefine. Out ot 1599 manuscripts described in the online catalogue, 52 have Wikidata items. For the other 1547 manuscripts I created new items based on the Rahlfs classification. (label = Rahlfs number, generic description in German English Italian, instance of (P31)manuscript (Q87167), language of work or name (P407)Ancient Greek (Q35497), Trismegistos text ID (P8532), Diktyon ID (P12042)).
    ✓ Done (2023-10-09) Add Rahlfs Numbers with catalog code (P528) to all items
    ✓ Done (2023-10-23) Propose a property for the Septuaginta Catalogue identifier: Wikidata:Property proposal/Rahlfs Number: ‎Rahlfs number (P12116)
    ✓ Done (2023-10-24) Add Rahlfs Numbers with ‎Rahlfs number (P12116) to all items (1226–2004 need to be moved one down, QS file was faulty)
  2. Phase 2: Create templates for linking the Rahlfs catalogue from various Wikipedia editions.
    ✓ Done (2023-10-24) German Wikipedia: Created Vorlage:Rahlfs-Katalog and Vorlage:Rahlfs-Katalog/Doku. Merged and corrected a few items in the process. Found >30 dewiki articles where the Rahlfs catalog entry wasn't yet available. Template is now used in 43 articles.
    ✓ Done English Wikipedia: Created and populated template: Template:Rahlfs catalogue with Template:Rahlfs catalogue/doc. Merged and corrected a few items in the process. Found some enwiki articles where the Rahlfs catalog entry wasn't yet available. Template is now used in 31 articles.
    ✓ Done Polish Wikipedia: Create and populate template: Szablon:Katalog Rahlfsa with help from User:Msz2001. Template is now used in 22 articles.
  3. Phase 3: Check consistency of imported data:
     In progress Diktyon numbers: Check Wikidata:Database reports/Constraint violations/P12042 ([1]) for "Single value" and "Unique value" violations. As Diktyon and Rahlfs use different definitions of what makes a manuscript, there are several dozen violations. Wikidata needs to address this in the Data Model for manuscripts.
  4. Phase 4: Import additional data into Wikidata.