Are STEM majors overrated 1

A botanist in the history of paper: Open and closed collaborations in the sciences around 1900


The study analyzes the dynamics of scientific cooperation between the natural sciences and the humanities using an example from historical paper research in Vienna around 1900. The focus is on the Viennese plant physiologist Julius Wiesner (1838–1916), who from 1884 (and until 1911) wrote medieval paper manuscripts under the Microscope checked. This took place in productive collaboration with palaeographers, archaeologists and orientalists (Josef Karabacek, Marc Aurel Stein, Rudolf Hoernle). The paper examines why this worked and how the collaboration developed. We distinguish between two forms of cooperation: While Wiesner initially only worked reactively, in a "closed cooperation", he later entered "open cooperation" in which both parties define the questions and develop suitable methods. This form of cooperation proved to be particularly successful - at the same time it was particularly demanding because, in addition to technical expertise, it required considerable “integration expertise” (Andersen 2016). This was favored by the local constellation in a phase of upheaval in the historical auxiliary sciences. Wiesner was able to contribute his knowledge of technical microscopy and gained a genuine interest in historical questions, while the humanities scholars were ready to open up to scientific procedures and ultimately recognize Wiesner as a paper historian in their own right.


The paper uses the example of historical paper research in Vienna around 1900 in order to analyze the dynamics of scientific cooperation between the natural sciences and the humanities. It focuses on the Vienna-based plant physiologist Julius Wiesner (1838–1916), who from 1884 to 1911 studied medieval paper manuscripts under the microscope in productive cooperation with paleographers, archaeologists and orientalists (Josef Karabacek, Marc Aurel Stein, Rudolf Hoernle). The paper examines why these cooperations succeeded and how they developed over time. Here we distinguish between two forms of cooperation: while Wiesner initially worked only reactively, in a “closed cooperation”, he later entered into “open cooperations”, in which both parties defined research questions and methods. This form of cooperation proved particularly successful, but at the same time was especially demanding because, in addition to contributing one’s own skills, it required considerable “interlocking expertise” (Andersen 2016). This was favored because the historical auxiliary sciences were in a phase of upheaval. Wiesner contributed his knowledge of technical microscopy and developed a genuine interest in historical questions, while the humanists were prepared to open themselves to scientific processes and ultimately acknowledged Wiesner as a historian of paper in his own right.


“With all this I am happy to admit that I have the prejudice that your view of the Chinese might be correct. But I'm not quite convinced that this is the point historical has already been decided. "Footnote 1 With these words the German-British Indologist Rudolf Hoernle ended a letter to the Viennese plant physiologist Julius Wiesner on January 1, 1912. Hoernle's criticism referred to Wiesner's most recent publication on the history of paper on the origins of rag paper, which was used as writing material in the Middle Ages (Wiesner 1911). Wiesner argued that the rag paper originally came from China and not, as was previously assumed, from the Arab countries. Hoernle was inclined to agree with Wiesner's thesis, but did not consider it to be sufficiently substantiated.

How did it come about that a philologist and a botanist discussed the origin of certain types of paper? Wiesner first looked at old paper in 1884 when the Viennese orientalist Josef Karabacek asked him for a microscopic analysis of the paper fibers of old Arabic documents. As a plant physiologist, product scientist and microscope specialist, Wiesner was predestined for this task. He soon developed a considerable self-interest in the field and expanded and refined his methods of paper analysis. Over the next thirty years or so, further collaborations followed, in which Wiesner gradually emancipated himself from the mere preparatory work and independently advocated historical theses. Thanks to his extraordinary competence in microscopic and microchemical paper analysis, Wiesner finally rose to become an internationally recognized authority in historical paper research.

There were mainly three people with whom Wiesner worked: from 1884 to 1888 with Karabacek, from 1900 to 1903 with Hoernle and from 1902 to 1904 and 1910 to 1911 with the German-Hungarian archaeologist Aurel Stein. The dynamics and form of the cooperation is documented in extensive correspondence; Wiesner's publications on the history of paper were also widely received (Wiesner 1887, 1902, 1904b, 1911). These are early and particularly interesting examples of successful collaboration between scientists across the so-called “two cultures”. Ever since the physicist and writer CP Snow coined this term in 1959 (Gloy 2002; Jost & Rohbeck 2007; Jardine 2010; Welsh 2008), his thesis of a gap between the humanities and natural sciences has been widely discussed in the history of science (including Bod & Kursell 2015: 337 -340; Krämer 2018: 5-14). There is now consensus that these cultures developed comparatively late; A common narrative places this process in the second half of the 19th century, with the division of philosophical faculties as an expression of completed demarcation (Krämer 2018; Hamann 2018; Bouterse & Karstens 2015). Only rarely did we look at border crossings, transfer processes and cooperation, as can be seen from the example considered here.

The cooperation, and sometimes also competition, between biology and historical sciences in explaining facts from the past has recently increasingly become the subject of historical, but also present-day scientific reflection (Bösl 2017; Jones 2018; o.A. 2014).Footnote 2 Our example shows that this collaboration is not a new phenomenon, but began in the 19th century at the latest. In the case examined here, it was historians who sought cooperation with a botanist. Against the background of the prestige of the disciplines at the time, this may come as a surprise, since the "historical sciences [...] were at the height of their prestige in the later 19th century" (Mommsen 1997: 32), while the still young discipline of plant physiology was just now first tried to legitimize (Wiesner 1910).Footnote 3 Wiesner was one of the best-known representatives of this new field (Gabriel 2007: 55–56; Babler 1935: 463); This essay is about how he also rose to become an expert on old paper in demand across Europe. How did Wiesner's collaboration with palaeographers and orientalists come about around 1900? And what conditions favored the successful course of this cooperation?

This essay aims to contribute to the discussion in three areas: firstly, the history of historical paper research; second, to variants of cooperative research and their dynamics; thirdly, the special requirements for interdisciplinary cooperation, especially across the boundaries of scientific cultures. In the following, we will first establish our conceptual inventory to describe interdisciplinary cooperation, in particular we will introduce different types of expertise and two types of scientific cooperation. Against this background, we will then investigate how and on what questions Wiesner worked with Karabacek, Hoernle and Stein. It will be shown that the special local context was also important, the scientific landscape in Vienna towards the end of the 19th century. We conclude with some considerations on cooperation across the boundaries of disciplines and scientific cultures.

Cooperation between disciplines

In this essay, we understand cooperation as "the interaction of two or more actors [...] in the form of consciously chosen actions" whose goals are positively interdependent; In other words, both parties can only achieve their goals if the other party also achieves theirs (Nickelsen 2014: 356; Nickelsen & Schürch 2020).Footnote 4 Often, this cooperation is about achieving goals that cannot be achieved alone or can only be achieved with greater difficulty. Extensive and time-consuming projects can be managed better (or only at all) by distributing the work among many hands and heads, such as describing the natural history of the world or sequencing the human genome (Daston 2007; Daston & Park 2002; Gannett 2019; Parker et al. 2013). But there are also small-scale research questions that can only be dealt with by combining different types of expertise, i.e. different stocks of knowledge and methodological skills, even across disciplinary boundaries (Andersen 2016; Andersen & Wagenknecht 2013; Wray 2002). This is the kind of cooperation that we are concerned with below. We understand disciplines conservative and deflationary in the sense of intellectually and institutionally delimited academic subjects, as they existed around 1900.

Scientists with different disciplinary backgrounds and technical expertise work together in interdisciplinary collaborations to produce new research results (Andersen & Wagenknecht 2013: 1881; Nickelsen & Schürch 2020). At least one of the cooperation partners has competencies and knowledge that the other does not have, but needs them to achieve their own goals.Footnote 5 Hanne Andersen calls this in her analysis contributory expertise: the content-related expertise that contributes to the joint project (Andersen 2016: 2–3).Footnote 6 In order to make the cooperation a success, it must be supplemented by interlocking expertise, in the following (somewhat bumpy) translated as “integration expertise”, which enables the different content-related expertise to interlock productively with a view to the knowledge goal (Andersen 2016: 3). As a rule, at least one person must be so familiar with the questions, methods and categories of the other discipline that they can link them to their own contributions and skills. In the best case, both partners are competent in this regard (Andersen 2016: 4). The more different the disciplines are and the more closely the findings are to be integrated, the higher the demands on this second form of expertise (Andersen 2016: 6).Footnote 7 The more pronounced the integration expertise, one can conclude the other way around, the more fruitful and promising the interdisciplinary cooperation.

Most of the history of science studies on the dynamics of interdisciplinary cooperation refer to examples from the 20th and 21st centuries; In addition, they focus predominantly on large-scale cooperative projects (e.g. Galison 2003; Parker et al. 2013). Interdisciplinary collaborations in the natural sciences and humanities were examined comparatively in their specific forms of collaboration (Real 2012).Footnote 8 The direct collaboration between the humanities and the natural sciences has so far mainly been noticed in examples from the 20th and 21st centuries (Davidson & Savonick 2017; Guerra 2008). An exception is the Technical Art History, which uses examples to examine the collaboration between art historians, artists and chemists at the beginning of the 19th century and thus the origins of conservation science (Dupré 2017; Bol 2017). However, detailed analyzes of the form of cooperation across the boundaries of scientific cultures are not yet available. This may be due to the fact that this form of cooperation is comparatively seldom and only in exceptional cases - as in the present example - is it comprehensively documented; at the same time, these constellations are particularly instructive. Among other things, they place particularly high demands on the integration expertise mentioned. We will therefore pay particular attention to how it was possible to combine the technical expertise of the palaeographers, archaeologists and orientalists with that of the plant physiologist Wiesner. It will be shown that integration expertise was available on both sides, with Wiesner moving much more towards palaeography than the other way around.

Because Wiesner's role in these collaborations changed considerably over time; Our example is therefore also suitable for differentiating between patterns and variants of scientific cooperation. Wiesner initially only responded reactively to specifically formulated research questions and worked to his cooperation partner. We propose to speak of a “closed cooperation” in these cases, which remains in clear intellectual paths. In the further course Wiesner showed increasing initiative, no longer waiting for orders, but began to contribute independently and innovatively to the cooperation. Here we can speak of an "open cooperation" between Wiesner and the palaeographers: Both cooperation partners continued to develop methods and questions, which made new, unforeseen research directions and results possible - even beyond the subject of the actual cooperation. Wiesner enriched palaeography with methodological approaches and paper-historical findings, but also used the microscopic examination of the old manuscripts for his botanical interests.

This development from a closed cooperation, in which Wiesner merely assisted the palaeographers, to an (result-) open cooperation can also be explained, according to our thesis, that Wiesner increasingly developed his integration expertise, i.e. gained an ever better understanding of how he was able to combine his own botanical and product-related knowledge with the findings and interests of historical paper researchers. But as we shall see, Wiesner did not stop there either. In addition to his integration expertise, he developed extensive content-related and factual expertise in the history of paper - up to the limit of his own disciplinary mobility. Because as a result of his decades of collaboration, Wiesner finally saw himself as a paper historian, no longer just as an interdisciplinary contributing expert.Footnote 9 Let us now consider the three phases of this development in the case.

Plant fibers and palaeography - Wiesner and Karabacek

In the papyrus collection of the Imperial Highness, Archduke Rainer, there are, as I already had the honor to inform you, samples of the first one produced by the Arabs Paper (8-10 centuries), which I suspect are made of cotton fibers. A closer examination of the same, which you already had the kindness to promise me, would shed light on this very important question (Karabacek 1884: MA8, 3.5.83.A1.18, emphasis in the original).

This letter from the Viennese orientalist Josef Karabacek (1845–1918) to Julius Wiesner (1838–1916) from 1884 documents the agreement made between the two scientists for the microscopic examination of paper samples. A long-term collaboration followed until 1888 and numerous other letters until 1915.Footnote 10 The cooperation with Karabacek marks the beginning of Wiesner's career in paper history. There is nothing to indicate - for example comments in letters or invoices received - that Wiesner was paid for this work, meaning that he saw his contribution as a service and commissioned work. From the beginning it was an offer for scientific cooperation that Wiesner could have refused.

At this point in time, Wiesner was already looking back on a long, successful career (Wininger 1979: 282; see also: Kisser 1963; Linsbauer 1917; Wurzbach 1888). From 1872 to 1909 he held the world's first chair for plant physiology at the University of Vienna, at the same time he was professor for technical goods science and technical microscopy at the Vienna Polytechnic until 1880. Wiesner made a significant contribution to the development and establishment of all of these specialist areas. He published in almost all areas of plant physiology and was actively involved in outlining the subject area of ​​the still young subject (cf. Wiesner 1877, 1881, 1892, 1896, 1904a, 1907).Footnote 11 His plant physiology institute was considered to be one of the "best equipped of its kind" (Molisch 1916: 83). In this institute Wiesner also carried out the microscopic analyzes for Karabacek and his later cooperation partners (Wiesner 1910: LHAS, 10 / fols. 115). Wiesner had already made a name for himself as an expert in the microchemical analysis of plant fibers and their processing into industrial products such as paper while working at the Polytechnic.Even after his retirement, Wiesner still microscoped paper samples in the institute's rooms, as we learn from a letter from Wiesner to Aurel Stein:

Thanks to the kind courtesy of my successor in office, Prof. Molisch, who is one of my most capable and dearest students, I have a lot of physiol. Institute has my own work space and the resources of the institute are still available to me, so that I am still able to carry out my work, including microscopic work. (Wiesner 1910: LHAS, 10 / fols. 120)

How and where Wiesner and Karabacek met cannot be precisely determined. The Viennese scientific landscape around 1900 was small and manageable, and the professorships were networked in many ways - not least, the Philosophical Faculty of the University of Vienna was not divided into individual departments until 1975 (Mühlberger 2009: 97).Footnote 12 Furthermore, Karabacek and Wiesner were both members of the Academy of Sciences in Vienna and therefore also met regularly in this context. It is therefore quite possible that Karabacek knew about Wiesner's competence as a technical expert on paper and microscopy and spoke to him personally about these questions.

The letter quoted at the beginning makes reference to the “Archduke Rainer Papyrus Collection” (PER). This comprised around 10,000 papyri and other papers from Egypt (El-Fajiûm), which were acquired on Karabacek's initiative in 1883 and transferred to the k.k. Austrian Museum for Art and Industry in Vienna (Karabacek 1883, 1885; Selander 2008). Today it is part of the papyrus collection of the Austrian National Library, one of the most important and largest manuscript collections in the world. Karabacek was entrusted with the inspection, processing and scientific evaluation of the oriental manuscripts. He was an expert on Arabic coins, papyri and textiles, a founding member of the Oriental Institute in Vienna, professor of the history of the Orient and its auxiliary sciences and later director of the Vienna court library. However, Karabacek was not an orientalist who worked purely on philology, but rather combined source studies with an interest in material culture (Troelenberg 2011: 233; Hauser 2005: 77; Marchand 1994: 109; also on Karabacek: Ali-de-Unzaga 2012: 75-86; Becker 1920: 233 -238; Bihl 2009; Gottschalk 1977; Mauthe 1999: 11-42; Rhodokanakis 1919: 188-198). In his research Karabacek interpreted written and material sources with reference to their cultural-historical context. In his cooperation with Wiesner, for example, he related the materiality of manuscripts to the history of paper and its manufacture.

This “inclusion of real studies in the orientalist main discipline” (Troelenberg 2011: 234) is symptomatic of a broader transformation and development of the historical sciences in the second half of the 19th century. Parts of the ancient studies increasingly supplemented their philological orientation with an investigation of material remains, and as a counterbalance to political historiography, interest was directed towards a broad cultural historiography (Hauser 2005; Mehr 2009; Schleier 2003). A number of historical disciplines such as archeology, art history and oriental studies recognized that they had to cooperate with natural scientists in order to answer certain questions - especially when it came to the material dimension of their research subjects (Caley 1967: 121).Footnote 13

Many examples document the rise of a scientific analysis of archaeological artifacts in German-speaking countries around 1900. In 1888, the royal museums in Berlin even set up their own chemical laboratory for the investigation of material sources, under the direction of the chemist Friedrich Rathgen (1862–1942). His main task was the conservation and restoration of archaeological artifacts, he is considered the pioneer of conservation science (Caldararo 1987; Clavir 1998; Corfield 1988; Plenderleith 1998; zu Rathgen also: Bracchi 2014; Brittner 1943: 19-20; Gilberg 1987: 105-20 ; Hiecke 1942: 91; Riederer 1976). Rathgen's material investigations also served analytical questions (Unger & Debbert 1988). He examined pottery shards from Babylon (Rathgen 1903, 1908), glass beads from Egypt (Rathgen 1913) and checked paintings and sculptures from the Berlin collection for authenticity (Unger & Debbert 1988). At around the same time, efforts were also made in Berlin to analyze glazes from Assur. Walter Andrae (1875–1956), curator of the Near Eastern Department of the Berlin Museums, commissioned the Prussian Materials Testing Office to do this (Andrae 1923; Bär 2003). The Viennese art historian Josef Strzygowski (1862–1941) tried to prove the influence of Persia on Chinese textile art and asked the already known plant expert Wiesner to analyze silk fabrics (Stein 1911: LHAS 9 / fols. 55; Strzygowski 1911: LHAS 9 / fols . 69 and LHAS 9 / fols. 78; see also: Marchand 1994).

The application of scientific analysis significantly changed the orientation of some historical disciplines. This also applies to palaeography, which opened up to new research approaches and methods (Härtel 2002; Henning 2000; Koch 2005). In this respect, the collaboration between Wiesner and Karabacek also offers insights into the history of the historical auxiliary sciences that tried to define their role in the academic world in the late 19th century. Karabacek's specific inquiry indicates that he knew what to expect from Wiesner and how he intended to combine this input with his findings. In addition to an extensive openness to scientific data, this is a sign of considerable integration expertise: Karabacek entered this interdisciplinary collaboration well prepared.

Questions about the material basis of paper arose with particular urgency in Vienna: from the 1870s onwards Vienna was “almost inundated with the products of the Orient” (Lessing 1900: 22), and this also included the numerous papyri and other manuscripts from El-Fajiûm , which Wiesner examined. The PER collection developed into one of the most extensive papyrus collections in the world. The conditions for the material analysis of these papers were almost optimal: In 1854 the Institute for Austrian Historical Research (IÖG) was founded in Vienna in an effort to put the historical auxiliary sciences on a new basis and to professionalize them (Lhotsky 1954). This proved to be extremely successful, and the IÖG was soon known and networked throughout Europe for its investigations. Wiesner maintained very good relationships with the director, Theodor Sickel (1826–1908), also benefiting from the proximity of their institutions (to Sickel: Erben 1926; Redlich 1927; to the relationship between Wiesner and Sickel: Musil-Gutsch 2020). Wiesner was also networked with leading technical paper experts in German-speaking countries, for example he corresponded with Wilhelm Herzberg (1861–1936) (Herzberg 1893: MA8, 3.5.83.A1.18). From 1884, Herzberg headed the department for paper testing at the Royal Mechanical-Technical Research Institute in Berlin (from 1900: Royal Material Testing Office; cf. Ruske 1971, 79).

Back to Karabacek's inquiry. He was particularly interested in samples of the very early papers made by Arabs in the PER collection from the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Karabacek suspected that these samples contained unprocessed cotton fibers. For him they had the potential to answer a question that was "lively ventilated" (Wiesner 1887: 180) in the palaeography of the time: Whether the oldest paper known at the time was really made of raw cotton or was made of rag? i.e. textile scraps, the writing material commonly used in the European late Middle Ages (Lupi 1875; Briquet 1884). The dating of the oldest known paper was thus closely linked to the question of the cultural and historical beginnings of paper production; derived from this, more recent papers could also be dated, which in turn allowed a more precise chronological classification of text sources.

The thesis of paper made from raw cotton came from the beginnings of paleography in the 18th century, put forward by well-known pioneers in the field such as Lodovico Antonio Muratori (1672–1750) and Bernard de Montfaucon (1655–1741). Since then, this thesis had held up in the field and had mostly been adopted unchecked. But since the 1870s there was increasing doubt in palaeography because there was no convincing evidence for the production of paper from unprocessed cotton - in particular, there was no confirmation of the existence of this paper on the basis of a botanically competent, microscopic examination of the fibers. Up to now one had either inferred the material of a manuscript from designations in historical sources or a material determination was made with the naked eye, that is, the optics of the tissue structure were examined in translucent light (Wiesner 1887: 189; Sickel 1872: 446). This procedure was insufficient to clarify the actual nature of the oldest papers.

Karabacek and others recognized that "[here] there [...] was the dividing line where the historian had to withdraw from the physiologist" (Karabacek 1885: 165). Karabacek's request to Wiesner was not the first of its kind. Towards the end of the 19th century, pairs of palaeographers and scientists were formed at various locations in Europe, looking for cotton fibers in old paper. The Swiss paper merchant and researcher Charles-Moïse Briquet (1839–1918), for example, tried to answer the cotton question together with the pharmacologist Jaques Brun (1826–1908). He was in contact with Wiesner about this and told him about further collaborations:

Il est très curieux qu'une recherche de ce genre ait été poursuivre presque simultanément et sans que de part ou d'autre, nous en eussions réciproquement connaissance, par vous, a Vienne, par MM les profs Girard et Giry à Paris, et par moi à Genève. Que nous soyons tous arrivés au même résultat, cela fait honneur au microscope. (Briquet 1886: MA8, 3.5.83.A1.18)Footnote 14

Briquet reported to Wiesner about the collaboration between the French paleographer Arthur Giry (1848–1899) and the chemist Aimé Girard (1830–1898) (see also o.A. 2019; Demeulenaere-Douyère & François 2019). He left the Italian palaeographer Clemente Lupi (1840–1919) unmentioned, to whom the first attempts at microscopic analysis of paper with botanists go back (Capannelli & Insabato 2000: 166–168; Capannelli & Lenzi o. J .; Pagliai 1919). As early as 1872, Lupi worked with Teodoro Caruel (1830–1898) and Antonio Mori (1847–1902) for this purpose (Wiesner 1902: 3; Lupi 1875: 45–46). These interdisciplinary alliances are examples of closed collaborations, as they were introduced at the beginning: The palaeographers asked a question that the scientists had to answer using microscopic methods, namely: Are there raw cotton fibers in this paper or not? The answer was: yes; but as Wiesner was able to show, his predecessors had used inadequate methods and interpreted the results incorrectly because they lacked background knowledge.Footnote 15 We also have no indications that in these constellations the natural scientists were interested in the epistemic goals of the palaeographers or even pursued their own questions about the material. There were clear cases of closed collaborations, the results of which, as it turned out, did not provide a comprehensive answer to the question about cotton paper.

In its initial phase, the cooperation between Wiesner and Karabacek followed the same pattern. Karabacek approached Wiesner with a specific question about the composition of the paper in the Arabic manuscripts: “Cotton or rags?”; and Wiesner should decide between these alternatives. Wiesner relied on his knowledge of botanical and product-related processes and used them to analyze the old paper. In the publication of an interim status of his investigations from 1886, Wiesner stated: “All objects that have been handed over to me so far consist essentially of the same fiber material [...] and, apparently, were produced in the same way. […] All of these papers are made from rags ”(Wiesner 1887: 45). His findings thus contradicted the original assumption of Karabacek - and the scientific experts before Wiesner.

The comprehensive treatises appeared in 1887: Karabacek published an essay on “Das Arabische Papier” (1887) and Wiesner published his “Faijûmer Papiere” (1887). The publications were - as both scientists often emphasized - originated independently of one another, but closely related to one another. The treatises also appeared in the same journal, namely the "Mitteilungen der Sammlung Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer" (Karabacek 1887; Wiesner 1887). Wiesner's essay followed Karabacek's, almost as a technical appendix.Footnote 16 The fact that there was no co-authorship should not be overstated (Csiszar 2018).Footnote 17 While scientific cooperation in the 20th and 21st centuries manifests itself primarily in joint publications (Wray 2006), this does not apply in the same way to the 19th century. The form of publication chosen here, however, documents that it was a closed cooperation with a clearly defined hierarchy - Karabacek went ahead and formulated the historical interpretation, Wiesner added the data base.

It was only in later phases of the collaboration that Wiesner published independently on his paper-historical material research (Wiesner 1902, 1911). The “Faijûmer Papiere” (1887) already show, however, that Wiesner did not stop at the processing of the question intended for him, but rethought the subject from his own perspective and expertise. Wiesner not only examined the Arabic papers from the PER collection, but also numerous other oriental and European paper samples that were sent to him by well-known palaeographers from all over Europe (Wiesner 1887: 255, 260).Footnote 18 He was supported above all by Theodor Sickel, the aforementioned director of the IÖG, who via his excellent network of paper samples from eight Italian archivesFootnote 19 for Wiesner (Wiesner 1887: 260; ÖNB, 567 / 2–4).Footnote 20 None of these samples were made from raw cotton. This finding served Wiesner as a basis to reject the thesis of cotton paper and to independently make statements about historically relevant questions.

Wiesner also examined not only the type of plant fibers, as Karabacek originally intended. With recourse to his specific, also product-related expertise, he examined numerous other components of the paper that had received little attention in palaeography until then: the filling of the paper pressed between the fiber fabric, the incrustation, the length of the fibers, the ink, the Dust that adhered to the papers, as well as the sizing of the papers. This last point in particular turned out to be instructive. By subjecting the papers to a systematic chemical analysis, Wiesner found out that all papers were glued with starch paste up to the end of the 13th century.Footnote 21 Only then was animal glue used.Footnote 22 Wiesner used two simple chemical test procedures to provide evidence: the iodine-starch reaction and the "Millon reaction". If a paper sample sprinkled with an iodine solution turned bluish, this was proof that the paper contained starch. If the paper turned red when a solution of mercury nitrate in nitrous acid was dripped onto it, this indicated proteins and thus animal glue.

The example of the chemical methods used on his own initiative to examine the glue shows that Wiesner has considerably expanded his integration expertise over time - especially with a view to the great importance of an independent dating method for palaeography. For his contribution to the collaboration, Wiesner had taken on the dating of the paper by the palaeographers, linked it with the results of his material analyzes and established a new correlation between dating and gluing. In this way Wiesner was able to refute another basic assumption of the history of paper that had previously been unquestioned; because up to this point in time animal glue had been considered the oldest glue material. This insight had a direct impact on paleography. Based on Wiesner's finding that the glueing of European papers changed from the 13th to the 14th century, the dating of medieval manuscripts and documents could now be checked regardless of their content (Mühlbacher 1888: 481).

In fact, the sizing criterion discovered by Wiesner led to manuscripts being re-dated. Wiesner had identified animal glue in a Hebrew manuscript from the Paris National Library (Wiesner 1887: 256); As a result, the previous date (to the year 1271) was corrected and added a few decades later (Mühlbacher 1888: 481).Wiesner's analysis of paper sizing shows the added value of open cooperation. Both sides were able to contribute their knowledge, skills and interests, and as a result the result went far beyond the original question to Wiesner. It had never occurred to Karabacek to ask Wiesner about glueing, filling and other details; Wiesner's findings on this, however, were of the greatest interest to him. You can also see the importance of integration expertise; because Wiesner was only able to put his own approaches in a productive relationship with the research questions posed by palaeographers.

Wiesner's research, especially the refutation of the thesis of cotton paper, was received with enthusiasm.Footnote 23 Even the German palaeographer Wilhelm Wattenbach (1819–1897), a proponent of the cotton paper thesis (Wattenbach 1875: 92–93), deviated from his original point of viewFootnote 24