In the monastery of St. Catherine found texts in languages ​​that were considered lost

Monastery of St. Catherine

The ancient monastery of St. Catherine is located in the shadow of Mount Sinai. This is one of the oldest continuously operating Christian monasteries in the world. It was founded in the 4th century in the center of the Sinai Peninsula at the foot of Mount Sinai at an altitude of 1,570 m. In addition to age, it is famous for its library, which contains old and very old manuscripts, manuscripts, documents printed on parchment. There are books here - thousands of them. For the bookseller or archeographer, historian, philosopher, this library is a real treasure and at the same time a storehouse of information.

As it turned out , some of the sheets, on which the inscriptions were applied, are even older than they were thought. A group of scientists led by Jeff Farrell was able to find texts that were overwritten by monks who used expensive material (mostly parchment) at that time for their own records. The erased texts were mainly written in Latin, Greek and Arabic. But, besides them, there were also texts in other languages ​​that until now were considered lost.

Total scientists found 130 palimpsests . So called manuscripts written on parchment, which had previously been used by scribes. Palimpsests appeared because of the high cost of writing material. As a result, it was used not one, but two or even more times. The most ancient palimpsest was considered the “Efremov Code” from the 5th century AD. Perhaps now the title of the most ancient will pass to another manuscript.

The monks of the monastery began to reuse parchment after in the 7th century AD. Islam began to spread. The fact is that the invasion of Muslims led to the fact that other Christian monasteries were either abandoned, because the monks went to other places, or were captured by Muslims. Because of this, the monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai desert was in relative isolation. Accordingly, there was nowhere to get the parchment, the usual ways of transferring writing materials from the monastery to the monastery disappeared. For this reason, it was decided to erase old manuscripts and write down new text on them. That was done. Despite the fact that the text was carefully rubbed, the remains of the letters still remained visible, so that most palimpsests can be detected without difficulty.

In order to detect the erased, scientists shone through the parchment, hundreds of sheets. In this case, light sources of various colors were used. After the filming was completed, the photographs were “fed” to a specialized computer algorithm, which, among other things, was trained to distinguish old texts from new ones.

From 2011 to this day, 74 palimpsests were examined. This is about 86,000 pages. The results were impressive. 108 pages of all these thousands contained earlier Greek poems and works belonging to the ancient Greek scientist Hippocrates.

Two texts were written by authors from Caucasian Albania . This is an ancient state, which arose at the end of the second to the middle of the first century BC. e. in eastern Transcaucasia, which occupied a part of the territory of modern Azerbaijan, Georgia and Dagestan. The language and writing of the state was considered lost until the 20th century. Symbols were applied only to a few stone artifacts of that era. At the end of the last century, a palimpsest was found with the text in this language, which gave scientists a great deal in terms of learning a lost language.

It was also found several texts in the Aramaic dialect, the so-called Christian Palestinian Aramaic. This language is a mixture of Syriac and Greek. He "died" in the 13th century, and only found out about him again in the 18th century. Judging by the texts, the speakers of this language had a well-developed literature and art.

All work carried out by scientists is carried out as part of a project called the Sinai Palimpsests Project. His goal is to get the lost knowledge bit by bit, to learn more about those nations and states that no longer exist, and after which only isolated traces have remained. Photos of ancient parchments before and after processing are available here , scientists post information in open access.

In the near future, work will continue, because not all materials have been processed yet, there are still pictures that need to be analyzed. Now scientists are talking about the possibility of scaling their experience. Indeed, there are many ancient organizations in the world with huge libraries containing the most valuable manuscripts and books. Perhaps some of them are also palimpsests with texts capable of shedding light on the development of ancient states, their appearance and disintegration.


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