Arts & Culture

Oldest Ancient Egyptian Leather Manuscript Discovered on the Shelves of the Egyptian Museum

Oldest Ancient Egyptian Leather Manuscript Discovered on the Shelves of the Egyptian Museum

The fragment being worked on by Wael Sherbiny.
The fragment being worked on by Wael Sherbiny.

The oldest Egyptian leather manuscript has been discovered on the shelves of the Egyptian Museum where it had been forgotten for the past 70 years.

The manuscript, which was presumed lost, dates back to between 2300-2000 BC and measures up to 2.5 meters. The manuscript contains valuable texts and colourful drawings that reveal valuable information about that period in history.

Speaking to Discovery, Wael Sherbiny, who made the discovery, said “taking into account that the manuscripts has texts and drawings on each side, the roll measures up to 5 meters making it the longest leather roll from ancient Egypt.”

The ancient manuscripts contains religious texts and drawings that portray supernatural beings. Religious spells and texts are also found in the manuscript and it is believed that priests at the time used to recite them.

According to Sherbiny, the roll portrays segmented texts that illustrate a variety of temple rituals that were later adapted and performed during funerals. To Egyptologists, this is common and was seen on many Middle Kingdom coffins from the necropolis of Hermopolis in Upper Egypt.

“Amazingly, the roll offers a more detailed iconography than the Hermopolitan coffins in terms of texts and drawings,” said Sherbiny to Discovery.

Nevertheless, Sherbiny also pointed out that the historic roll points out some aspects that were already known to Egyptologists before their appearance on the Hermopolis coffins.

“It suggests that some segments of the composition were probably not the creation of Hermopolitan theologians” Sherbiny explained. “Instead, it had a rather longer history of transmission before they were chosen to be used as coffin decorations,” he added.

Furthermore, the leather roll also has many religious illustrations and drawings which were not seen on any coffins or historical monuments found to present date.

“This means that there was a number of religious iconography and texts that were not passed to us unfortunately” Sherbiny concluded.

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