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The JORDANUS database is supposed to account for all mathematical texts in western languages that are contained in medieval manuscripts (i.e. Codices written before 1500). The main focus lies on texts dealing with arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry. Most sources are in Latin, but there are aso manuscripts written in different European languages (French, German, Italian, English, Spanish). Additionally, there are texts dealing with other mathematical subjects (e.g. astronomy, optics, hydraulics, and engineering) and with subjects of neighboring disciplines like physics and medicine, as well as manuscripts younger than 1500. The database also contains information about modern manuscripts, including lecture notes from the 19th and 20th century.

Most information collected in this database was taken from (printed and unpublished) catalogues of manuscripts, reviewed in the late 70´s and early 80´s. Until now the vast majority of Western medieval mathematical manuscripts has been accounted for – about 13400 Codices.

In 1997 the databank was further developed as a result of the cooperation of Menso Folkerts (Faculty for the History of Natural Sciences in Munich) and Jürgen Renn (of the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science Berlin). Over the course of several workshops and meetings in the years 1998/1999 at the Max-Planck-Institute in Berlin the raw data was first adopted and edited by Gerd Graßhoff and Michael May, and later by Jochen Büttner, Peter Damerow, Paul Weining (all MPIWG Berlin) in cooperation with Gerhard Brey (IGN Munich). All field entries (more than 60,000) were checked and, when needed, corrected.