22 April 2024 09:31 PM

Oldest Coptic Psalter Now On Display In Coptic Museum After Restoration

Wednesday، 21 February 2024 - 11:41 PM

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa opened the exhibition of the Book of Psalms manuscript at the Coptic Museum in Cairo.

The manuscript, which has undergone a process of meticulous restoration and documentation in a period of five years, is the oldest complete collection.

The restoration was carried out by a team of Egyptian restorers from the Coptic Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art.

The minister expressed his deep appreciation of their work, emphasising the importance of developing museums and supporting scientific research and cultural enrichment.

Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziry said the manuscript was discovered in 1984 in the Al-Mudil Coptic cemetery, located in a small town near Beni Suef, approximately 100 kilometers south of Cairo.

The manuscript dates back to the 5th century and contains 151 psalms attributed to the Prophet David. Written in the Middle Egyptian dialect of Coptic known as Bahnasa, the psalms are inscribed on parchment and leather-bound between two wooden boards.

The hall features interactive screens displaying photographs of the entire psalter manuscript, supported in seven languages, along with audio readings, Waziry added.

Hamdi Abdel Moneim, director of the Restoration Department at the Museum of Islamic Art, said the manuscript was in such a poor condition.

The binding had come undone, the pages were creased and stained with various fluids, and the ink was faded in many places, Abdel Moneim explained.

Restoration meant completely dismantling the manuscript, using ultraviolet and infrared imaging of the contents, and consulting specialists in Coptic codicology, Abdel Moneim added.

The restorers’ efforts were recognized with the Dr Zahi Hawass Award for best restoration project in 2023.

The opening of the Book of Psalms Hall coincides with celebrating the 114th anniversary of the establishment of the Coptic museum.

The Coptic Museum, founded by Marcus Simaika Pasha in 1908, houses the world’s largest collection of Egyptian Christian artefacts.

Egyptian Gazette

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