Researchers Are Digitizing a 4,500 Rare Manuscript at St. Catherine’s Monastery
By Muhammed Aladdin
Far between the golden dunes of the Sinai desert, at the foot of Mount Sinai, a team of researchers arduously sits as the light illuminates the 2,000-year-old manuscript green. Silence falls over the monastery’s library, interrupted only from time to time by the low electrical humming of the machinery.
The Greek scientists are taking photographs of thousands of fragile manuscripts; these have some of the oldest copies of the Christian gospels in all of the world. Their process of digitization is quite complex with images taken in red, green, as well as blue light, and later on, computer software is used to create a single high-quality picture.
Early Manuscript Electronic Library (EMEL), a non-profit organization, has made preserving these treasures its responsibility and has vowed, to the benefit of all humans, to publish them online in full colors in the fall of 2019.
Mount Sinai with its sanctity to followers of the three faiths is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the immense historical as well as cultural relevance it has. The most renowned of the manuscripts in the monastery’s library is the “Codex Sinaiticus”, a manuscript of the Bible written in ancient Greek, which is considered to be the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament.
The library had several other books including manuscripts in Syriac language as well as scrolls that cover science, medicine, and the Greek classics. The USD 2.75-million project is still in its first stage and is expected to go on for three other years to cover other rare Syriac-Arabic manuscripts.
Scientists hope that by doing this they will be able to preserve humanity’s heritage and also make it available to people from all around the world.