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Codex Rossanensis, original Biblical manuscript, goes on display in Calabria


Following a lengthy restoration project, the world's oldest illustrated book will be put on display in the Calabrian town of Rossano - where it was discovered by chance 240 years ago.

Codex Rossanensis, original Biblical manuscript, goes on display in Calabria
Codex Purpureus is an illuminated Greek evangeliary containing the whole Gospel of Matthew, almost all the gospel 
of Mark, and a part of Eusebio’s letter to Copiano about the concordance of the gospels [Credit: ANSA]
The 1600-year-old book, known as the The Codex Purpureus Rossanensis, tells the life of Jesus according to the gospels of Matthew and Mark.

The book features Greek text written in gold and silver ink on dyed parchment and contains a stunning series of biblical episodes illustrated in Byzantine style.

Codex Rossanensis, original Biblical manuscript, goes on display in Calabria
Of the original 400 sheets, only 188 of decorated parchment dyed in purple remain [Credit: ANSA]
Following a lengthy three-year restoration project in Rome, the codex will now return to its home city to be given a state-of-the-art display.

“The book is the only one of its kind in the world and is of extraordinary historical, artistic and religious significance,” said Anna Russo, a spokesperson for the diocese of Rossano.

Codex Rossanensis, original Biblical manuscript, goes on display in Calabria
Based on the style of the manuscript, most experts date the codex to the 6th or 7th century [Credit: ANSA]
"We are expecting many national and international visitors, making the book's exhibition important not just for our town but for the whole of Calabria."

Inside the book's new high-tech display room, air temperature and humidity will be carefully controlled to stop its fragile pages from disintegrating.

Codex Rossanensis, original Biblical manuscript, goes on display in Calabria
The handwriting in which it is written is the capital Biblical or Greek uncial, with words in scriptio continua (with no 
separation of the letters), without accents, breathings, punctuation marks, except for the full stop-punctum, 
which marks the passing from a period to the other [Credit: ANSA]
Only 188 of the book's original pages still remain, with the rest having been lost or destroyed over time.

Multimedia installments will tell visitors more about the history of the codex and allow them to explore its detailed illustrations.

Codex Rossanensis, original Biblical manuscript, goes on display in Calabria
From the comparison with other artefacts of the same period, it is thought that the Codex was probably
made in Syria, perhaps in in Antioch [Credit: ANSA]
Recent studies of the book, which was discovered in Rossano's sacristy in 1876, reveal it was composed in Syria between 400 and 500 AD but little is known of its early history.

The display at the Diocesean Museum of Rossano will open to the public from July 2nd.

Source: The Local [June 16, 2016]
TANN

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