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Found at last: the world's oldest missing page

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  • drthomas_joseph
    Fifth-century Christian text turns up under floor in Egypt, bringing early church martyrs to light Andrew Johnson Sunday, 17 February 2008 A year after the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 20, 2008
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      Fifth-century Christian text turns up under floor in Egypt, bringing
      early church martyrs to light

      Andrew Johnson
      Sunday, 17 February 2008

      A year after the Romans packed up their shields in AD410 and left
      Britain to the mercy of the Anglo-Saxons, a scribe in Edessa, in what
      is modern day Turkey, was preparing a list of martyrs who had
      perished in defence of the relatively new Christian faith in Persia.

      In a margin he dated the list November 411. Unfortunately for the
      martyrs, history forgot them. At some point, this page became
      detached from the book it belonged to. Since 1840, the volume has
      been one of the treasures of the British Library. It is known only by
      its catalogue code: ADD 12-150

      The missing page has always been a fascinating mystery for scholars
      and historians. Now, after an extraordinary piece of detective work,
      that page has been rediscovered among ancient fragments in the Deir
      al-Surian monastery in Egypt. It is, according to Oxford University's
      Dr Sebastian Brock, the leading Syriac scholar who identified the
      fragments, the oldest dated Christian text in existence.

      "It is a list of martyrs and it must have been added to the main book
      at the last minute," he said. "There were three fragments from the
      last page. It was a distinctive handwriting, and it was very exciting
      to identify it. It is very important to complete the book. Many of
      the names on this list we have not come across before. So it gives us
      a lot of clues about that half of that century. Rome at the time was
      officially Christian, so the rival Persians would have persecuted
      Christians."

      The fragments were among hundreds discovered beneath a floor in the
      Deir al-Surian, which is itself a treasure trove of ancient books. Dr
      Brock and his colleague, Dr Lucas Van Rompay of Duke University in
      North Carolina, are now working on the first catalogue of the many
      manuscripts that are more than 1,000 years old.

      Elizabeth Sobczynski, founder of the Levantine Foundation, which
      supports the conservation of the mon-astery's manuscripts, is raising
      money to build a state-of-the-art library to preserve the remaining
      ancient books. "I found four fragments, and joined three of them
      together," she said. "These fragments survived for so many centuries,
      which is amazing .... They could so easily have been swept away."

      Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/found-at-
      last-the-worlds-oldest-missing-page-783378.html
      Related News: http://www.forbes.com/2002/05/29/0529conn.html
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