What Are The Oldest Books (Top 10) in the World
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|Oldest Books in the World - Photo: KnowInsiders|
We have made an effort to compile what we believe to be an interesting selection of the oldest books that are still in existence everywhere in the world. We cover everything from the earliest known printed books that have survived to the oldest book that is known to have survived in its original form.
KnowInsiders.com has rounded up the list of the top 10 oldest books that have survived the ticks of time to even survive and literally tell the tale today.
Top 10 Oldest Books in the World
1. Madrid Codex - The First Book In the World
|Madrid Codex - Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
The Madrid Codex, which was found in Spain in the 1860s and is also known as the Tro-Cortesianus Codex, is one of the only books that have survived that can be attributed to the pre-Columbian Maya culture that existed between the years 900 and 1521 AD.
The language of the book is Yucatecan, which belongs to the Mayan language family that also includes Yucatec, Itza, Lacandon, and Mopan. Its production was most likely carried out in Yucatán.
The precise year that the Madrid Codex was compiled is a topic of debate amongst specialists; however, it is generally agreed upon that it was produced prior to the Spanish conquest of the 16th century.
The book is currently held in the Museo de América in Madrid, Spain.
Estimated age: 494 years old.
2. Gutenberg Bible
|Gutenberg Bible - Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
The first copies of the Gutenberg Bible, also known as the 42-line Bible, were printed sometime between the years 1454 and 1455 AD, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, which makes it the oldest book in the world to have been mechanically printed.
Although there are examples of book printing in China that date back many centuries earlier, such as the Diamond Stra, this book is considered to be the oldest printed book using movable type in the Western world because it was printed by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany.
It is known that there are a total of 48 original copies in existence, 21 of which are complete. The copy that was the first to arrive in the United States can be seen in the image to the right, which was taken from the New York Public Library.
Estimated age: 559 years old.
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3. Celtic Psalter
|Celtic Psalter - Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
The Book of Kells of Scotland is referred to as the Celtic Psalter. The pocket-sized Psalms book is kept at the University of Edinburgh, where it first appeared on display to the general public in 2009.
The book is Scotland's oldest surviving book and is believed to have been written in the 11th century AD.
On the website of the University of Edinburgh, you can see pages from the Celtic Psalter.
Estimated age: 938 years old.
4. Diamond Sūtra
|Diamond Sūtra - Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
A Buddhist holy text, the Diamond Sūtra is considered to be the oldest surviving dated printed book in the world.
The book, which is composed of Chinese characters printed on a scroll of gray printed paper and wrapped around a wooden pole, was discovered in a walled-off cave in China along with other printed artifacts.
On the advice of his parents, a man by the name of Wong Jei copied the book in May 868 AD; this fact is stated at the end of the text.
Estimated age: 1,145 years old.
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5. Siddur, Jewish Prayer Book
|Siddur, Jewish Prayer Book - Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
The third significant find this year was a "siddur," a Jewish prayer book that dates to around 840 AD. It was made in 2013.
The entire parchment is so old—still it's in its original binding—that it uses Babylonian vowel pointing, which is comparable to Old or Middle English in the English language.
Because to this, scholars were able to place the book during the Middle Ages, during the reign of the Geonim, leaders of Babylonia and the Talmud.
Estimated age: 1,173 years old.
6. Book of Kells
|Book of Kells - Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
The Book of Kells, which is maintained in Dublin, Ireland's Trinity College Library, is supposed to have been made by Celtic monks about the year 800.
The four New Testament Gospels are contained in this very elaborate illuminated ancient Gospel book, which is written in Latin.
Estimated age: 1,213 years old.
7. St Cuthbert Gospel
|Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
The St. Cuthbert Gospel, which was acquired by the British Library in 2012 for £9 million as part of a fundraising effort, is the oldest intact book still in existence in Europe.
About 698 AD, the book was interred with St. Cuthbert, a pioneering British Christian figure, on the island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland.
The book was transported to Durham to avoid Viking attackers, narrowly escaping destruction during the Viking raids.
In 1104 AD, the book was found once more, this time with an inscription affixed to the inner cover (see image below).
Estimated age: 1,315 years old.
8. Nag Hammadi Library
|Nag Hammadi Library - Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
13 leather-bound papyrus codices, which are among the oldest surviving bound books, were found in 1945 by a local in the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, buried within a sealed jar.
The Gnostic passages found in the books date to the first half of the fourth century AD. The codices, which were written in Coptic, are believed to have been copies of Greek texts.
The Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt, currently houses the Nag Hammadi codices.
Estimated age: 1,693 years old.
9. Pyrgi Gold Tablets
|Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
The three gold plates were discovered in 1964 during the excavation of a sanctuary in ancient Pyrgi, Italy. They date around 500 BC.
Scholars believe they were formerly tied together because of the perforations around the edges.
One is written in Phoenician and has a dedication from King Thefarie Velianas to the Phoenician goddess Astarte. Two are inscribed in Etruscan language.
The National Etruscan Museum in Rome, Italy is now housing the plates.
Estimated age: 2,513 years old.
10. Etruscan Gold Book
|Photo: Wigan Lane Books|
The Etruscan Gold Book, which is believed to be the earliest multi-page book in the world and dates to around 660 BC, was found in Bulgaria 70 years ago while workers were excavating a canal off the Strouma river.
Six sheets of 24 karat gold, bound in rings, make up the book.
The plates feature warriors, a Siren, a lyre, a horse, a horseman, and Etruscan characters in addition to images of these things.
An unknown 87-year-old donor gave the book to the National History Museum of Bulgaria in Sofia.
The Etruscans were a prehistoric race that came from Lydia, which is today's Turkey, and settled in central Italy around three thousand years ago.
Estimated age: 2,673 years old.
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