An ancient papyrus fragment believed to be The first copy of the Gospel of Mark, has been discovered in the mask of a 1,900-year-old Egyptian mummy seniority currently in the United States, LiveScience announced.
The papyrus could be extracted from the mask thanks to the use of the technique based on dissolving the glue used to repair it, without damaging the ink on the paper. Craig evans, a professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia, commented in an interview that the gospel fragment was dated by examining the handwriting and carbon dating it.
«The process has revealed that the papyrus fragment was written before the year 90 and that it was recycled and used to create a mask for the mummy of an ordinary woman.«.
Unlike the mummy funerary masks of Egyptian pharaohs and queens, which were generally made of gold and inlaid with precious stones, «the masks of common people were made of papyrus, clothing, or other cheap materials. Mummification was extremely expensive and only royal people, high officials and viziers could afford its cost.«Explained archaeologist Sherif El-Sabban.
Several masks of common people have been discovered in Egypt and they are on display in various museums, such as the Egyptian. However, none of these are as well preserved as the real ones, El-Sabban explained.
A mummy mask generally represents the characteristics of the face and chest of the deceased, which is placed on the wrapped head of the mummy to protect the face of the deceased. But, according to Egyptian tradition, it could also act as a substitute for the mummified head should it be damaged or lost, Sabban added.
Evans told LiveScience He was interested in knowing how long the papyrus was used before being recycled as it might shed light on how biblical texts were copied over time.
«We have every reason to believe that the original writings and their oldest copies would have been in circulation for 100 years in most cases, and in some cases longer, even 200 years.«He explained.
Here you can find more information about this find (in English).
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