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Deciphering the medieval secrets of the Dragon Prayer Book

09/09/19 - BOSTON, MA. - Professor Erika Boeckeler looks at the Dragon Prayer Book, Northeastern’s medieval manuscript, with students Connor Hamill and Laura Packard in the Snell Library archives on Sept. 9, 2019. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Erika Boeckeler was going to need three years—with help from a lot of students—to fully comprehend what she was holding in her hands. And yet she knew, the moment she was greeted by the brightly-drawn dragon roaring on its opening page, that she had found a book of historical significance.

The Dragon Prayer Book, as Boeckeler’s students would refer to it, is a medieval manuscript that had been neglected for years on a back shelf of Snell Library. Northeastern has been unable to determine when it obtained the book or how much was paid for it. All that exists in the files is a black-and-white photograph that shows someone reading the book in 1976.

“It was really exciting to discover a medieval manuscript that we didn’t even know existed in the archives,” says Boeckeler, who had recently joined Northeastern as a professor of English when she asked the archivist for all of the ancient books in the university’s collection. “I just wanted to see what Northeastern had because I was a new hire. It turns out nobody had ever asked for that material.”

Read the full story on News@Northeastern.

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