A page from the Garima Gospels.
A British charity has saved the world's earliest illustrated Christian book, which was found at a remote Ethiopian monestary.
The Garima Gospels are named after a monk named Abba Garima who arrived in Ethiopia from Constantinople in 494 AD. Legend has it that he was able to copy the gospels in a day because God delayed the sun from setting. The relic has been kept ever since in the Garima Monastery near Adwa in the north of the country.
According to the London Mail:
Experts believe it is also the earliest example of book binding still attached to the original pages. The survival of the Gospels is incredible considering the country has been under Muslim invasion, Italian invasion and a fire in the 1930s destroyed the monastery's church.
They were written on goat skin in the early Ethiopian language of Ge'ez. There are two volumes which date from the same time, but the second is written in a different hand from the first. Both contain illustrations and the four Gospels.
Though occasional travelers have mentioned the texts since the 1950s, it was thought they dated from the 11th century at the earliest. Carbon dating, however, gives a date between 330 and 650, overlapping the date Abba Garima arrived in the country.
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