ROME (RNS) An Italian university professor on Wednesday (May 29) said he has found what is believed to be world’s oldest complete Torah scroll.

torah scroll

An Italian university professor on Wednesday (May 29) said he has found what is believed to be world’s oldest complete Torah scroll. Photo courtesy Mauro Perani


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Mauro Perani, professor of Hebrew at the University of Bologna, said the scroll originally was believed to be no more that a few hundred years old.

But new studies and carbon dating tests suggest it was written around 850 years ago.

The scroll had been stored for centuries in the university’s archives, but had been mislabeled in 1889 as dating from the 17th century.

When Perani re-examined the scroll, he realized that it used a script of the oriental Babylonian tradition, hinting that it must be extremely old.

The professor then had the scroll carbon-dated by laboratories at Italy’s University of Salento and at the University of Illinois. Both tests confirmed that the scroll dated from the second half of the 12th century to the first quarter of the 13th century.

torah

An Italian university professor on Wednesday (May 29) said he has found what is believed to be the world’s oldest complete Torah scroll. Photo courtesy Mauro Perani


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“This was a scroll for liturgical use in the synagogue, with just consonants spelled out,” Perani said.

The scroll is made up of 58 sections of soft sheep leather. It is 36 meters long and 64 centimeters wide.

Ancient Torah scrolls are rare because when they are damaged they stop being used for liturgies and are buried.

KRE/AMB END SPECIALE

 

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Alessandro Speciale

Alessandro Speciale

Alessandro Speciale has been covering the Vatican since 2007 and wrote for Religion News Service from 2011-2013. Born in Rome, he studied literature at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, and journalism at City University, London. He has appeared as an expert on Vatican affairs on CNN, BBC World and Al Jazeera English.

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