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Researchers in Graz managed to find the oldest known fragment of a book

Researchers in Graz managed to find the oldest known fragment of a book

Researchers at the University of Graz have managed to find the oldest fragment of a book to date: a fragment of papyrus dating from the third century BC shows traces of binding, indicating that it may originally have been part of a book.

This piece comes from the collection of the University Library of Graz and was presented to the public by book restorer Teresa Zammit Luby on Thursday.

The piece of papyrus measuring 15 cm by 25 cm is believed to be the remains of a notebook. The restorer found a thread along the cover, and from this, together with the book’s layout, binding marks, and typed text extending within the well-marked margins, concluded that it could be part of the book.

So far it has been assumed

The book form may have originated in the second century AD.

I. s. The oldest known books from the period between 150 and 250 AD are held in the National Library of the United Kingdom and Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. Part of Graz is 400 years older than this.

The piece of papyrus was discovered more than a hundred years ago during the excavations of the Al-Hayba necropolis in Egypt. When it was found, it was covered with a mummy lying in a coffin. It has been preserved at the University of Graz since 1904 as part of a collection of 52 fragments of papyri dating back to the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt.

According to archaeologists who published the find in 1906, it is a page from a notebook on which invoices for the beer and oil tax were written in Greek around 260 BC.

The international professional community will discuss the new discovery and its consequences this fall, said Eric Reinhart, scientific head of the Special Collection at the University Library of Graz. He added: In light of the discovery, the beginnings of the history of the book must be reconsidered.

The University Library of Graz, which contains more than four million items, is the third largest in Austria.

Comprehensively updated and expanded in 2019. Its private collection, which is the second largest in Austria, contains about three hundred thousand items.

The featured image is an illustration.

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