Revealing the past in world’s oldest library, Egypt

In the Sinai, a global team is revolutionizing the preservation of ancient manuscripts

By Mark Schrope

path up Gebel Musa (Mt Moses) near St Catherine’s Monastery, lit by flashlights of walkers going to watch the sunrise

MOUNT HOREB, Egypt — Michael Toth points at a computer screen filled with what seems to be a jumble of Arabic and Greek letters.

To get to this jumble, he has traveled from Washington to an isolated, fortress-like monastery in the middle of the Sinai Desert, home to the oldest continuously operating library on the planet.

He has helped assemble a global team of scientists that arrived with cutting-edge technology at this spot, three hours by taxi from the nearest commercial airport.

The image he has paused to appreciate is one of a steady stream coming from the room next door, where a high-definition camera is focused on one of the monastery’s rare and priceless ancient manuscripts. The manuscript rests in a cradle that looks like a chair tilted back at an angle, but with hydraulic lines and strange lights attached.

One more room over, in the makeshift command center, specialists are scrutinizing the day’s results, and the monastery’s head librarian, a wispy gray beard to his stomach, waits in a red velvet chair for the next request to turn a fragile manuscript page.

“This is the first time since the 9th century that anyone has seen this,” Toth says of hints of text below the more visible words.

more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/in-the-sinai-a-global-team-is-revolutionizing-the-preservation-of-ancient-manuscripts/2012/08/30/1c203ef4-ca1f-11e1-aea8-34e2e47d1571_story.html

AND

St. Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai Palimpsests Survey
http://emelibrary.org/projects.htm

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About naturetravelegypt

Our company, Nature Travel, is located in Sinai. For 30 years we have been operating in this region, specializing in desert safaris by camel or jeep, and high -mountain trekking. We also offer a wide range of other services, including hotel reservations and a variety of trips all over Egypt. Our staff are experienced professionals, with multilingual abilities. One of our specializations is the Sinai desert and our staff have extensive knowledge of its flora and fauna, as well as a deep understanding of the traditional Bedouin way of life. 90% of our company personnel, including drivers, guides and cooks, are local Bedouins. They are here to guide you through the majestic Sinai desert, and to help you have an experience of a lifetime. Our transport fleet consists of land cruisers and buses, ideal for both groups and individuals. All are air-conditioned and up-to-date models, for travel in safety and comfort. www.naturetravelegypt.com
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