New Display for the World’s Oldest Illustrated Book


Following a lengthy restoration project, the world’s oldest illustrated book will be put on display in the Calabrian town of Rossano – where it was discovered by chance 240 years ago. The 1600-year-old book, known as the The Codex Purpureus Rossanensis, tells the life of Jesus according to the gospels of Matthew and Mark.

The book features Greek text written in gold and silver ink on dyed parchment and contains a stunning series of biblical episodes illustrated in Byzantine style. Following a lengthy three-year restoration project in Rome, the priceless book will now return to its home city to be given a state-of-the-art display. Inside the book’s new display room, air temperature and humidity are carefully controlled to stop its fragile pages from disintegrating. Only 188 of the book’s original pages still remain, with the rest having been lost or destroyed over time. Multimedia is used to inform visitors about the history of the book and allow them to explore its detailed illustrations.

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