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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an object is made out of, the length of the writing and its content all create controversy when it comes to declaring a historical document or text the oldest book in the world.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.


    The Care of Fine Books by Jane Greenfield
    Amazon Says: Jane Greenfield, advisor in rare book conservation at Yale University Library, is a leading authority on preservation and repair. After attending the New York School of Applie more...
    Amazon Says: Jane Greenfield, advisor in rare book conservation at Yale University Library, is a leading authority on preservation and repair. After attending the New York School of Applied Design, she operated her own bindery for several years, enabling her to write from an unusual level of both education and experience. Here she offers a concise yet thorough discussion of book construction, storage, handling, cleaning, and repair, as well as essential expert advice on how to properly store and handle books of value in order to protect them from fire, flood, theft, and common wear and tear. With a new introduction by bestselling author Nicholas A. Basbanes, this is an indispensable volume for bibliophiles of every description. less...
    Amazon


    Amazon Says: The city has eight million stories, and this one unfolds just south of 14th Street in Manhattan, mostly on the seven blocks of Fourth Avenue bracketed by Union Square and Asto more...
    Amazon Says: The city has eight million stories, and this one unfolds just south of 14th Street in Manhattan, mostly on the seven blocks of Fourth Avenue bracketed by Union Square and Astor Place. There, for nearly eight decades, from the 1890s to the 1960s, thrived the New York Booksellers’ Row, or, more commonly, Book Row. This illustrated memoir features historical photographs and is richly anecdotal, and as American as the rags-to-riches tale of the Strand, which began its life as a book stall on Eighth Street and today houses 2.5 million volumes in twelve miles of space. A story cast with colorful characters: like the book dealer George D. Smith; the irascible Russian-born book hunter Peter Stammer, the visionary Theodore C. Schulte; Lou Cohen, founder of the still-surviving Argosy Book Store; gentleman bookseller George Rubinowitz and his legendarily shrewish wife, Jenny, Book Row remembers names and places that all lovers, readers, buyers, sellers, and collectors of books should never forget. Rising rents, street crime, urban redevelopment, television are many of the reasons for the demise of Book Row, but in this volume, based on interviews with dozens of the people who bought, sold, and collected there, it lives again. less...
    Amazon


    Book Collecting 2000 by Allen Ahearn
    Amazon Says: A brand-new, expanded handbook of estimated market values of first printings of first books, revised and updated for the new millennium. Like its previous editions--hailed a more...
    Amazon Says: A brand-new, expanded handbook of estimated market values of first printings of first books, revised and updated for the new millennium. Like its previous editions--hailed as "the standard guide to market worth" (The Washington Post) and "required reading" (Southern Living)--Book Collecting 2000 is more than a simple listing. It is an exhaustive guide to the basics and finer points of book collecting and the book trade for novice and professional collectors, as well as dealers and librarians. It identifies which books to collect, where and how to buy them, and how to judge their condition and care for them, and provides a glossary of trade terms and lists of dealers. Book Collecting 2000 also features an introduction looking back over the century, and an examination of how the Internet is affecting both collecting and pricing; and it includes estimated prices for some 6,000 first books, comparing the pricing for the same titles in 1989 and 1995. Notes. less...
    Amazon


    Books: A Living History by Martyn Lyons
    Amazon Says: From the first scribbling on papyrus to the emergence of the e-book, this wide-ranging overview of the history of the book provides a fascinating look at one of the most effic more...
    Amazon Says: From the first scribbling on papyrus to the emergence of the e-book, this wide-ranging overview of the history of the book provides a fascinating look at one of the most efficient, versatile, and enduring technologies ever developed. The author traces the evolution of the book from the rarefied world of the hand-copied and illuminated volume in ancient and medieval times, through the revolutionary impact of Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, to the rise of a publishing culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the subsequent impact of new technologies on this culture.  Many of the great individual titles of the past two millennia are discussed as well as the range of book types and formats that have emerged in the last few hundred years, from serial and dime novels to paperbacks, children’s books, and Japanese manga. The volume ends with a discussion of the digital revolution in book production and distribution and the ramifications for book lovers, who can’t help but wonder whether the book will thrive—or even survive—in a form they recognize.  less...
    Amazon


    Amazon Says: Through more than 300 glorious illustrations from library collections around the globe, you'll discover a wealth of book lore in these pages and gain a new appreciation for th more...
    Amazon Says: Through more than 300 glorious illustrations from library collections around the globe, you'll discover a wealth of book lore in these pages and gain a new appreciation for the role of books in human society, from our earliest attempts at writing and recording information to the newest electronic books; from sumptuous illuminated and bejeweled medieval manuscripts to Gutenberg and the invention of movable type; from the diverse arts and crafts of bookmaking to the building of magnificent libraries for housing treasured volumes; from the ancient epic of Gilgamesh to the plays of Shakespeare and the tales of Beatrix Potter; and from the earliest illustrated books to revolutionary science texts. less...
    Amazon


    Amazon Says: The invention of writing was one of the most important technological, cultural, and sociological breakthroughs in human history. With the printed book, information and ideas c more...
    Amazon Says: The invention of writing was one of the most important technological, cultural, and sociological breakthroughs in human history. With the printed book, information and ideas could disseminate more widely and effectively than ever before—and in some cases, affect and redirect the sway of history. Today, nearly one million books are published each year. But is the era of the book as we know it—a codex of bound pages—coming to an end? And if it is, should we celebrate its demise and the creation of a democratic digital future, or mourn an irreplaceable loss? The digital age is revolutionizing the information landscape. Already, more books have been scanned and digitized than were housed in the great library in Alexandria, making available millions of texts for a curious reader at the click of a button, and electronic book sales are growing exponentially. Will this revolution in the delivery of information and entertainment make for more transparent and far-reaching dissemination or create a monopolistic stranglehold? In The Case for Books, Robert Darnton, an intellectual pioneer in the field of the history of the book and director of Harvard University's Library, offers an in-depth examination of the book from its earliest beginnings to its shifting role today in popular culture, commerce, and the academy. As an author, editorial advisor, and publishing entrepreneur, Darnton is a unique authority on the life and role of the book in society. This book is a wise work of scholarship—one that requires readers to carefully consider how the digital revolution will broadly affect the marketplace of ideas. less...
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