AncientPages.com - Hidden in the vaults of Saint Catherine's famed monastery, located in southern Sinai, there are thousands of sacred ancient manuscripts. Some of these works are the oldest in Christianity.
As Ancient Pages previously reported during the inauguration ceremony, Egypt officially reopened the 6th century Library and Mosaic in St. Catherine Monastery in Sinai.
The monastery has the world's second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts. Image: wikipedia
According to the monastery’s archbishop, Monk Damyanos, the monastery has the world’s second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts. This collection is only outnumbered by the Vatican Library.
The undertext of the letters of St. Paul are revealed through spectral imaging and can be seen as faint coffee stain colored letters running perpendicular to the overtext. Credit: Sinai Palimpsests Project
St. Catherine’s Monastery is the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery in the world. It has been very difficult to access this remarkable collection of ancient manuscripts, but the Sinai Palimpsests Project team has digitized the texts and created a digital library where the texts can be viewed online.
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The five-year collaboration is the largest effort of its kind to recover erased or obscured information from historical source material and preserve precious ancient works for future generations.
Gospels in Arabic translation, late eighth century. The oldest surviving copy of the Gospels in Arabic translation. Credit: Sinai Palimpsests Project
"By revealing these long-hidden materials and preserving them for future generations, this project makes possible advanced research and scholarship by scholars around the world," said Ginny Steel, a librarian from UCLA's Norman and Armena Powell Library, who was involved in the project.
A copy of Hippocrates' De morbis popularibus (Epidemiae) from the sixth century revealed using spectral imaging. This is the oldest surviving copy of this ancient scientific text. Credit: Sinai Palimpsests Project
The writings include the earliest surviving copies of several Hippocratic medical treatises and a previously unknown mythological poem from ancient Greece that mentions Zeus, Hades, Hera, Hermes and Persephone.
Greek New Finds MG 14, 17v and 20r. Result of processing spectral data (Keith Knox). Erased text (red): Christian Palestinian Aramaic translation of the Book of Proverbs, 6th to 7th century CE.
In addition to the oldest surviving illustration in a secular Latin manuscript, illustrations include medicinal herbs, human faces and figures and portions of buildings. There are a number of double palimpsests from parchment that was re-used multiple times.
There are also texts written in Ethiopic and Latin, demonstrating the monastery’s centrality in the world of medieval Christendom as well as previously unknown texts in the extinct language Christian Palestinian Aramaic.
Among the works is a newly discovered story of an early Christian martyr; and early biblical texts in numerous languages. It is an outstanding and priceless ancient collection that offers a unique insight into the past!
The ancient manuscripts are accessible to students, scholars and the public at sinaipalimpsests.org.
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