oldest books

Books have always played a major role in our lives giving us knowledge about many things thus shaping up our characters. Literature is thought to have been developed as soon as writing become a thing but the fact is we are not sure. So, here are few of the well-known, surviving oldest books in the world.

THE GUTENBERG BIBLE

oldest books

Estimated Age: 561 years old

The Gutenberg Bible, also known as the Forty Two Line Bible and it was a major book in the West. It was created by Johann Gutenberg; inventor of modern day printing press in Mainz, Germany around 1455. He printed 180 bibles, out of which 49 exist and 21 of those are incomplete.

 CELTIC PSALTER

oldest books

Estimated Age: 938 years old

The Psalter is described as Scotland’s version of the famous Book of Kells in Dublin. The origin of the book is a mystery but experts believe it was probably produced monks in Iona. This pocket sized book is housed at the University of Edinburgh, where it went on public display in 2009.

DIAMOND SUTRA

oldest books

Estimated age: 1,145 years old; Printed date: May 11, 868 AD

It is a Buddhist Sutra, is one of the most influential Buddhist sutras in East Asia. Moreover, it is a key object of devotion and study in Zen Buddhism. This book is considered to be the oldest surviving dated printed book in the world. Among the manuscripts found in the cave of Dunhuang; a copy of Chinese version of the text was also found . It was printed from wooden blocks onto a scroll over 5 metres (16.4 ft.) long.

SIDDUR, JEWISH PRAYER BOOK

oldest books

Estimated Age: 1,173 years old

This prayer book is written in Hebrew, contains about 50 pages and is still in its original binding. Scholars working for the Green Collections – world’s largest collection of rare biblical artifacts discovered it in the year 2013. Thus, Siddur is ultimately a part of Green Collection Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.

THE BOOK OF KELLS

oldest books

Estimated Age: 1,123 years old

The Book of Kells a fantastic, illustrated manuscript is Ireland’s one of the greatest treasures. The book mainly contains four gospels; created by Celtic monks around 800 AD. Three different scribes and four artists have been identified in creating the book. Since 1953, it is bound in four volume; two if them are on display at Trinity College in Dublin. One volume shows an illumination and the other volume shows the script.

ST. CUTHBERT GOSPEL

oldest books

Estimated Age: 1,315 years old

The St. Cuthbert Gospel is the oldest European intact book. It is thought to have been produced in the late 7th or early 8th century. The book contains gospel of John – an early British Leader. In 1104 AD, gospel was again rediscovered . Further, in year 2012 the British Library raised £9 million to buy the gospel. It is now in the Treasures Gallery at the British Library, London.

THE LEIDEN HERBARIA

oldest books

Estimated Age: 1,416 years old

A copy of the Pseudo-Apuleius herbarium from around 600 AD; oldest known Latin manuscript with botanical drawings. It currently is in the Leiden University Library, Germany. The herbaria, a guide to plants and their medicinal uses; originally written in Latin. The earliest known edition of this text is the copy in Leiden. Further, it was produced in Southern France.

NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY

oldest books

Estimated age: 1,693 years old

Discovered buried in a jar, by an Egyptian farmer near the town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. The Nag Hammadi Library is a collection of 13 leather-bound papyrus codices written in Coptic Egyptian. The texts enclosed are mostly early-Christian religious writings, such as non-canonical Gnostic texts and, most notably, the Gospel of Thomas. The Nag Hammadi codices are currently in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt.

PYRGI GOLD TABLETS

oldest books

Estimated Age: 2,513 years old

Found during an excavation of a sanctuary in ancient Pyrgi, Italy in 1964. They contain holes around the edges which further led the scholars to think that they were once bound together. Two tablets are inscribed in the Etruscan language and the third in Phoenician. They record a dedication by Thefarie Velianas, king of Caere, to the phoenician goddess Astarte. They are displayed at the National Etruscan Museum in Rome, Italy.

ETRUSCAN GOLD BOOK

oldest books

Estimated Age: 2,673 years old

It is the oldest multi-page book in the world and was discovered 70 years ago in a tomb along the Strouma River in Bulgaria. The book contains six gold pages held together with golden rings. Written in Etruscan characters it further depicts a horse, horseman, a Siren, a lyre, and soldiers. The book is displayed now in Bulgaria’s National History Museum in Sofia and it is one of the oldest books that still exist.

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