The Oldest Illustrated Gospels?

Recent carbon dating of an illuminated Gospel in Ethiopia has revealed it - or at least the goat skin it's on - to be between 330 and 650 AD rather than the 11th century previously thought. The illustrations are clearly local, and the text is in Ge'ez, Classical Ethiopian. Ethiopia was one of the earliest countries to convert to Christianity, and has produced many lost religious texts over the years, such as the Book of Enoch which was re-discovered in the 18th century (fragments have since been found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls). The book was found in the Abba Garima monastery, named after a monk who is said to have come from Constantinople.

The work was funded by the Ethiopian Heritage Fund, and the fullest account can be found here, in a 2008 article. Martin Bailey wrote a feature on the Gospel in the June 2010 Art Newspaper: PDF here.

Full selection of photos below, from the EHF.

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