The Ligatus Research Centre offers a unique environment within University of the Arts London, where the study of the history of bookbinding and book conservation is combined with research into semantic data structures and collection survey tools.

Ligatus is leading research within libraries and archives with particular interests in historical bookbinding. By employing current semantic technologies, Ligatus is developing new resources for research that include a European bookbinding thesaurus and various bookbinding databases.

Ligatusworks in collaboration with major partners in the field and supports PhD research. Projects and areas of research include:

Bookbinding terminology

Ligatus is leading the development of a terminology for historic bookbinding. Following a project which resulted in a detailed bookbinding glossary and a methodology to record historic bookbindings; Ligatus is now leading a large network of European partners in the development of a widely adopted bookbinding thesaurus based on semantic web standards.

PhD applicants are invited to submit proposals on historic bookbinding, bookbinding terminologies with emphasis in multi-lingual/multi-cultural context.

Saint Catherine’s Monastery Library, Mount Sinai, Egypt

The monastery of St Catherine in the Sinai, Egypt, is the oldest active Christian monastery in the world. The monastery’s library holds a unique collection of Byzantine manuscripts. Ligatus undertook the task of assessing the condition of the manuscripts, has designed a new conservation workshop, a stainless steel box for the manuscripts and is advising on further conservation work.

The project has been funded by the St Catherine Foundation with additional support from the Headley Trust. PhD applicants can work with outcomes from this project and are invited to submit proposals in book conservation and historic bookbinding with an emphasis in the Byzantine tradition.

Digital archive of bookbinding

30,000 slides of the bound manuscripts in the St Catherine’s Monastery Library, taken as part of the survey, have been digitized and have been joined by a 10,000 digital images of the bindings on the early printed books.

Based on this material, LIGATUS is building a repository of an additional, unrivalled, collection of materials relating to the history of bookbinding donated by key scholars who have worked internationally in major public and private collections. PhD applicants can work with this material on relevant subjects.


Ligatus is pioneering the development of methodologies for documenting heritage archives. Following the proposal of Creative Archiving where the archivist's subjectivity is turned into an advantage by introducing an interpretation layer through modern software tools; Ligatus is developing ways to enable the conceptual linking of heritage archives based on semantic technologies (Linked Open Data).

PhD applicants are invited to submit research proposals in the areas of Knowledge Organisation, Semantic Ontologies and Digitisation with particular emphasis in the arts and humanities.

John Latham Archive

Ligatus is working with the John Latham Foundation on the John Latham Archive. The archive has been digitised and is available for study online. John Latham's influence on the visual arts is remarkable.

His philosophical ideas on Events, Event Structures and ‘Flat Time’, a unifying overview of the world, are fascinating and complex. PhD applicants are invited to submit proposals on the study of John Latham's art and texts.


  • Prof. Nicholas Pickwoad (Director)
  • Dr. Athanasios Velios (Deputy Director)
  • Aurelie Martin (Research Assistant)
  • Alberto Campagnolo (Digital Humanities Research Fellow)
  • Ewelina Warner (Research Fellow – The Saint Catherine Foundation)

Partners and collaborators

Current PhD students