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Haymond, Bruce. Etruscan Gold Book, dating to 600 BC . 2011. Photograph. Authentic Ancient Metal PlatesWeb. 20 Feb 2014.

What is the Oldest Book in the World?

The question of the oldest book in the world is quite difficult to answer; numerous artifacts have been cited as the oldest book in the world but debates arise around the authenticity of each claim. One reason there is little agreement on issue is because the definition of what a book is varies from person to person. Take into consideration the physical elements of a book; most people today would define a book as having multiple pages of text which are bound together with a cover. There are many ancient relics which resemble the format of a book but that do not fit into the modern definition of what a book is. The materials an object is made out of, the length of the writing and its content all create controversy when it comes to declaring a historical document or text the oldest book in the world.

The Etruscan Gold Book is one of many artifacts which has been cited by various sources as being the oldest book in the world. Discovered 70 years ago in Bulgaria, the book is being housed in Bulgaria’s National History Museum. It is composed of 6 sheets of 24 carat gold and bound together by two rings. The book dates from approximately 600 BC making it over 2,000 years old.

Other books which are notorious for their old age include:

  • The Gutenberg Bible
  • The Nag Hammadi Library
  • The St. Cuthbert Gospel
  • To find out more about antique books, book preservation and book collecting check out some of the Richland Library resources below.


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