Irish equivalent of Dead Sea Scrolls unearthed

Fragments of what appear to be a 9th century Book of Psalms uncovered in a South Midlands bog testify to "the incredible richness of [Ireland's] early Christian civilisation," according to the National Museum of Ireland.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Museum said fragments of what appeared to be an ancient Psalter or Book of Psalms, written around AD 800, were uncovered by chance by a bulldozer in a bog in the south Midlands.

"In discovery terms this Irish equivalent to the Dead Sea Scrolls is being hailed by the Museum's experts as the greatest find ever from a European bog," the museum said in a statement.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in the mid 20th century, are considered to be of enormous religious and historical significance since they include some of the earliest known surviving Biblical documents.

The Irish discovery, recovered from bogland last Thursday, comprises extensive fragments of what is thought to be an Irish Early Christian Psalter, written on vellum, a fine animal skin parchment.

"It testifies to the incredible richness of the early Christian civilisation of this island and to the greatness of ancient Ireland," said Museum Director Pat Wallace.

The Museum said it did not know how the manuscript ended up in the bog.

"It may have been lost in transit or dumped after a raid, possibly more than a thousand to twelve hundred years ago."

Part of Psalm 83, a lament to God over other nations' attempts to wipe out Israel, is legible but the museum said the extent to which other Psalms or additional texts are preserved would only be determined by lengthy work by a team of experts.

Initial impressions placed the composition date of the manuscript at about AD 800, a time of Viking raids in Ireland.

Ancient manuscript found in Irish bog (Sydney Morning Herald 26/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
National Museum of Ireland
Trinity College Dublin

Vatican shares artifacts with Israel (CathNews 11/1/05)

27 Jul 2006