53935Interesting find in a Irish bog.
- Jul 26, 2006Kinda a cool bog discovery for those of us into SCA Stuff
Medieval book of psalms unearthed
First millennium manuscript, open to Psalm 83, found in Irish mud
Tuesday, July 25, 2006; Posted: 6:28 p.m. EDT (22:28 GMT)
The ancient book was found by a construction worker, who was removing
peat with a backhoe.
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DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- Irish archaeologists Tuesday heralded the
discovery of an ancient book of psalms by a construction worker while
driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog.
The approximately 20-page book has been dated to the years 800-1000.
Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said it was the first
discovery of an Irish early medieval document in two centuries.
"This is really a miracle find," said Pat Wallace, director of the
National Museum of Ireland, which has the book stored in refrigeration.
Researchers will conduct years of painstaking analysis before putting
the book on public display.
"There's two sets of odds that make this discovery really way out,"
Wallace said. "First of all, it's unlikely that something this fragile
could survive buried in a bog at all, and then for it to be unearthed
and spotted before it was destroyed is incalculably more amazing."
He said an engineer was digging up bogland last week to create
commercial potting soil somewhere in Ireland's midlands when "just
beyond the bucket of his bulldozer, he spotted something." Wallace would
not specify where the book was found because a team of archaeologists is
still exploring the site.
"The owner of the bog has had dealings with us in past and is very much
in favor of archaeological discovery and reporting it," Wallace said.
Crucially, he said, the bog owner covered up the book with damp soil.
Had it been left exposed overnight, he said, "it could have dried out
and just vanished, blown away."
The book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83,
in which God hears complaints of other nations' attempts to wipe out the
name of Israel.
Wallace said several experts spent Tuesday analyzing only that page --
the number of letters on each line, lines on each page, size of page --
and the book's binding and cover, which he described as "leather velum,
very thick wallet in appearance."
It could take months of study, he said, just to identify the safest way
to pry open the pages without damaging or destroying them. He ruled out
the use of X-rays to investigate without moving the pages.
Ireland already has several other holy books from the early medieval
period, including the ornately illustrated Book of Kells, which has been
on display at Trinity College in Dublin since the 19th century.
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