First Published: 2010-09-06


Egyptian papyrus found in ancient Irish bog


Papyrus potentially represents first tangible connection between early Irish Christianity, Middle Eastern Coptic Church.


Middle East Online

It appears the manuscript's leather binding came from Egypt

DUBLIN - Irish scientists have found fragments of Egyptian papyrus in the leather cover of an ancient book of psalms that was unearthed from a peat bog, Ireland's National Museum said on Monday.

The papyrus in the lining of the Egyptian-style leather cover of the 1,200-year-old manuscript, "potentially represents the first tangible connection between early Irish Christianity and the Middle Eastern Coptic Church", the Museum said.

"It is a finding that asks many questions and has confounded some of the accepted theories about the history of early Christianity in Ireland."

Raghnall O Floinn, head of collections at the Museum, said the manuscript, now known as the "Faddan More Psalter", was one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in Ireland.

It was uncovered four years ago by a man using a mechanical digger to harvest peat near Birr in County Tipperary, but analysis has only just been completed.

O Floinn said the illuminated vellum manuscript encased in the leather binding dated from the eighth century but it was not known when or why it ended up in the bog where it was preserved by the chemicals in the peat.

"It appears the manuscript's leather binding came from Egypt. The question is whether the papyrus came with the cover or if it was added.

"It is possible that the imperfections in the hide may allow us to confirm the leather is Egyptian.

"We are trying to track down if there somebody who can tell us if this is possible. That is the next step."

O Floinn said the psalter is about the size of a tabloid newspaper and about 15 percent of the pages of the psalms, which are written in Latin, had survived.

The experts believe the manuscript of the psalms was produced in an Irish monastery and it was later put in the leather cover.

"The cover could have had several lives before it ended up basically as a folder for the manuscript in the bog," O Floinn said.

"It could have travelled from a library somewhere in Egypt to the Holy Land or to Constantinople or Rome and then to Ireland."

The National Museum in Dublin plans to put the psalter on public display for the first time next year.


New report accuses Syria of chemical attack in Qmenas village

For second day, Iraq forces clash with ISIS in Kirkuk

Battles rage in Yemen despite three-day truce

Turkey PM warns EU: Turkey has alternatives!

Food crisis reaching critical levels north of South Sudan

Turkey hits Kurdish group in Syria again

Kremlin aims to 'liberate' Syria with Assad in power

Egypt court upholds 20-year sentence for Morsi

Islamic Jihad stages show of force in Gaza

UN says 'crimes' in Aleppo are 'of historic proportions'

IS sniper kills Iraqi journalist in Kirkuk

US official says coalition should target IS in Raqa after Mosul

Moscow extends Aleppo ceasefire

Italy PM says officials should have voted against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Syrian ‘Toy Smuggler’ accused of fraud

UN: IS may use civilians as human shields in Mosul

Armed men attack refugee boat off Libya

US says will work with Turkey to deal IS 'lasting defeat'

Moscow ‘highly concerned’ at jihadists’ refusal to leave Aleppo

Four Palestinians arrested by their security forces for settlement visit

Mauritania president says no change to two-term limit

UN delays Aleppo evacuations due to lack of security assurances

Oman denies reports of arms smuggling to Yemen

Israel looking to buy three more German submarines

83 migrants rescued off Cyprus

Under pressure in Mosul, IS fighters attack Kirkuk

Air strikes hit Yemen rebels despite ceasefire

US officials: Iran boosting arms sales to Huthis via Oman

Iraq forces make gains against IS near Mosul

Arab coalition accuses Yemen rebels of breaching truce

Italian PM blocks EU sanctions threat against Russia over Aleppo

Pentagon chief in Turkey for talks on tensions with Iraq

Israeli occupation troops kill Palestinian teenager

Iraqis flee IS-held Mosul for war-torn Syria

Five years after his death, Kadhafi's 'Green Book' is ridiculed in Libya

Iraq issues warrant for former governor of Mosul

EU leaders threaten sanctions against Assad allies

Syria army urges residents to evacuate Aleppo during ceasefire

British warships shadow Syria-bound Russian naval force

Turkey unexpectedly keeps interest rate steady

British PM urges united EU response to Russia over Syria 'atrocities'

UN gets ‘green light’ from all parties for Aleppo evacuations

Iran president: we must be hospitable to foreign businessmen

British Al-Jazeera reporter freed in Somalia

Turkish planes raid US-backed Kurdish militias