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Deciphering the medieval secrets of the Dragon Prayer Book
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.”