A book from Egypt, one of the oldest books in the world, will reach $2.6 million at a public auction

Mohamed Shalaby - | Art

One of the earliest books ever discovered, a book from Egypt written during the early years of Christianity, will be auctioned off in June in London.

Christie's estimates the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, which was created at one of the oldest Christian monasteries and was written in Coptic on papyrus between 250 and 350 AD, would fetch between $2.6 and $3.8 million at auction.

The transitional era when papyrus scrolls begin to take on the shape of codexes is precisely when it happens, according to Eugenio Donadoni, Senior Specialist in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at Christie's. Thus, books as they exist now. Additionally, the earliest known manuscripts of two Bible books are contained in this volume.

The 104 pages (52 leaves) are protected beneath plexiglass and were penned over the course of 40 years at an upper Egyptian monastery by a single scribe. The Book of Jonah and the first epistle of Peter are included in the codex.

Donadoni noted that only a small number of books from the third and fourth century have survived to the present day, attributing its preservation to Egypt's arid climate.

"Due to those extremely specific climatic conditions, all of the major finds of Christian manuscripts that we had at the end of the 19th and in the 20th centuries are all concentrated in Egypt," the speaker stated.

The University of Mississippi obtained the codex after it was found in Egypt in the 1950s, and it stayed there until 1981. Dr. Martin Schoyen, a Norwegian manuscript collector, bought it in 1988 and is currently putting it up for auction together with a few other treasures from his Shoyen Collection, one of the biggest private manuscript collections in the world.

The codex will go up for sale in London on June 11 and is on display at Christie's New York from April 2 to April 9.

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Mohamed Shalaby
Mohamed Shalaby
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