The Austrian restorer may have found references to the oldest book known to date. The traces found on the Egyptian papyrus will push the beginning of the book’s history forward by 400 years.
While routinely working on a 2,300-year-old piece of papyrus in Austria, a restorer finds evidence of a page from a very ancient book. Restorer Teresa Zammit Luby discovered various traces of sutures, the University of Graz announced. This indicates that the papyrus was part of a book.
“I first saw a piece of thread, and only then noticed the shape of the book. I saw a central fold, key holes and text written within clearly defined margins on the papyrus,” said the restorer in the university’s press release. .
The image shows what is possibly the oldest known fragment of a book. During routine work on an Egyptian papyrus, restorer Luby discovered various traces of binding.
Since 1904 in Graz
The piece dates back to the third century BC. It predates the earliest known evidence of bound books, which date to AD 150-250, by about 400 years and is preserved in libraries in London and Dublin.
The piece of papyrus measuring about 15 by 25 centimeters was excavated in a tomb near today’s Heba and arrived in Graz in 1904. The two-page spread from a notebook is a bill in Greek for beer and oil taxes that was used to wrap the mummy, according to the university.
To date, this discovery has not been presented in a peer-reviewed journal. In the fall, the university plans to hold an international conference to discuss the new findings.