Hi, my name is Rafi Knispel-Heyworth. I saw my first manuscript – a 15th century fencing manual – when I was six. Since then, I’ve set about learning the languages and acquiring the skills necessary to read them. German I speak natively; Latin came next; I have been teaching myself Middle High German and dabbling in Old English.
In 2019, I started as a high school student intern with the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester, a traveling group of specialists in recovering damaged and illegible manuscripts using multispectral imaging. There I learned about technical photography, material handling, and image processing, as well as about the physics of fluorescence, some basic optics, and the chemistry of inks and pigments. I’ve also taken specialized courses in codicology (how manuscripts are put together), and paleography (how to read medieval handwriting), so that I can recover, read, and transcribe medieval works, especially those that haven’t been read before because of damage.
As a saber fencer, I have a particular interest in historical fencing books from the Middle Ages. As an aspiring engineer, I also have an interest in improving the tools used for supporting, manipulating, and holding down manuscripts for imaging.
In my spare time, I like to fence, hike, climb, do woodworking, and write the occasional blog post. The ones on this site are about some of my projects and a few tips and tricks I’ve learned from making lots of mistakes.
I owe thanks to everyone who has taught me: Ken Boydston (multispectral imaging and machining), my Latin teachers, especially Mr. Pellegrino, Dr. Ilya Dines (codicology and paleography), Andrew Henning (website building and Python), my father and mother for everything in between, the graduate students at the Lazarus Project who treated me as a member of the team (Alex, Helen, and Kyle), Youtube, which knows all, and Covid, for the motivation to make this site.