A Torah scroll dating from as early as the 12th century was found tucked away in the University of Bologna’s library after sitting mislabeled for over 120 years.
Discovered by Hebrew Professor Mauro Perani, two separate carbon-14 tests showed that the scroll dated from between 1155 and 1225, making it the oldest complete Torah scroll on record.
According to a press release, the manuscript was misidentified in 1889 when the head librarian dated it to the 17th century and described the Hebrew letters as “an Italian script, rather clumsy-looking.”
In fact, the script was from the Bablyonian tradition, which would make it much older, according to Professor Perani. The professor also noticed that the 13th century rules for copying Torah scrolls — that are still followed today — were not used for this text.
It is still unknown how and when the scroll became a part of the University’s collection, but an investigation is under way to find the source, according to the academic press release.
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