Da Vinci's Codex Atlanticus makes international debut in JerusalemAmerican Author Dan Brown hit upon a nerve in people, and a gold mine, when he decided to write a thriller about a supposed conspiracy surrounding the works of Leonardo da Vinci and the Catholic Church. Wonder what he would think, then, were he to find out that a series of rare da Vinci notebook pages are making their first appearance outside of Italy in the halls of power of the Knesset, in the heart of Jerusalem.
American Author Dan Brown hit upon a nerve in people, and a gold mine, when he decided to write a thriller about a supposed conspiracy surrounding the works of Leonardo da Vinci and the Catholic Church. Wonder what he would think, then, were he to find out that a series of rare da Vinci notebook pages are making their first appearance outside of Italy in the halls of power of the Knesset, in the heart of Jerusalem.
While Brown would probably cook up some theory concerning albinos, the shape of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the new hotels around Mamilla, we at GoJerusalem.com prefer to focus on actual reality than all of that intrigue. According to Sharon Sofer, who is curating the Knesset's exhibit, the historic display of the Codex Atlanticus was brought about by the recent visit of Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, who arranged for seven pages of the codex brought to Jerusalem as a gift.
"We had to get a lot of approvals from the Italian authorities," Sofer, who also heads the Information Department at the Knesset, tells GoJerusalem.com. Because the centuries-old notebooks need to be kept in perfectly dry, tempertaure-controlled and not-too-well-lit conditions to avoid damage, Italian officials had to first survey how the Knesset planned to display the documents, to make sure it would be hospitable to them.
In 2006, something of a small scandal erupted when researchers thought they discovered mold on the 12 volume bound set, but that theory was later debunked. If only the same could be said for the documents' new across-the-street neighbors, the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Codex Atlanticus was written somewhere around the late 15th century. It contains many notes from celebrated painter, inventor and definitive renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, including on flying machines, weapons, mathematics and botany. Among the seven pages chosen by Italian authorities for exhibit here are notes on a meat searing machine, a geographic plan and how to fly.
Until now, the Codex has been kept in a vault in a Milanese archive, where temperature and humditiy are constantly monitored, save a short vaunt to L'aquila for the G-8 summit there recently. The fact that the document is now seeing the light of day in Jerusalem is a major coup for the Holy City, and the best part is, anyone can check it out, granted they sign up for the Knesset tour.
The exhibition represents a Knesset first, Sofer says. "We've had exhibits before, but not like this."
The Codex went on display earlier this month and will remain open to the viewing public until March 29, Passover Eve.
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