Oldest surviving books of all time (Photo: Instagram)
World Book Day, as the name suggests is an annual event the organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. With the arrival of civilisation and modernity, the availability of books is made so easy that a click can take you to a read of a book by a particular author, writer or topic. But before we thank modernity and technology for making a world an easy read, let us take a stroll back to some 5,000 years ago, the root where the branching of book all started.
Without further ado, here are some of the most redolent, oldest books that have survived the ticks of time to even survive and literally tell the tale today:
Dead Sea Scrolls (2nd century BCE–1st century CE)
Dating back to first century B.C., the Dead Sea Scrolls is considered as the earliest Old Testament manuscript still in existence. Found in a series of 12 caves in Qumran in the West Bank, in the Judaean Desert near the Dead Sea, the Dead Sea Scrolls are 972 manuscripts that features texts written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and set down on parchments and papyri.
The Etruscan Gold Book, 6th century BCE
One of the most mysterious books that still exists today, the Etruscan Gold Book made out of 24 carat gold is believed to be oldest book in the world dating back to around 600 BCE. A spectacular specimen of a book, The Etruscan Gold Book consists of six sheets bound together that contains illustrations of a horse-rider, a mermaid, a harp, and soldiers. The book was found sometime in the late 1950s in a tomb uncovered during digging for a canal along the Strouma river in Bulgaria. The book is now on display at the National History Museum in Sofia.
The Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarius, 6–7th century
A book that may as well be one among the first books on botany, the Pseudo-Apuleius Herbarius with fanciful botanical illustrations is believed to be the most influential herbal in Europe until the High Middle Ages. Apart from the drawings, not much is known about the text author. It is now housed at the Leiden University library in Holland.
The Book of Kells – c. 800 AD
One of Ireland’s greatest treasures as it is an illuminated manuscript dating back to about 800 AD, the Book of Kells features four Gospels from the New Testament and consists of 340 folios made from calfskin vellum. Named for the Abbey of Kells, where it was housed for many centuries, the Book of Kells is currently on permanent display at Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland.