9. Library Of Languages
Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt have pedigree. They belong to one of the world’s oldest operational libraries. Among Saint Catherine’s thousands of books were about 130 manuscripts known as palimpsests. A palimpsest was a manuscript with its original pages erased and written over.
During the seventh century, Saint Catherine’s did so out of necessity. The spread of Islam throughout the Sinai Desert isolated the monks. When paper became scarce, they reused the older books. Starting in 2011, some 6,800 pages from palimpsests were photographed in special light to reveal the invisible words.
The manuscripts delivered. The recovered literature was dated between the 4th to the 12th centuries. Astonishing finds from known languages included 108 pages of new Greek poems and the oldest recipe credited to Hippocrates, the Greek physician.
Even more priceless were the rare, extinct languages of Caucasian Albanian and Christian Palestinian Aramaic. The discovery helped broaden the scant vocabulary of Caucasian Albanian, known from only a few stone inscriptions and once spoken by Christians in what is now Azerbaijan.