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World's Oldest Text Read by Spectral Imaging

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posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 11:02 AM
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A Greek scroll that may date from the mid-5th century BCE has been successfully scanned using multi-spectral imaging. The text of the scroll deals with Orphism, an early exploration of monotheism that predates Christianity.

The scroll was found four decades ago, charred in the tomb of a Greek nobleman. It is called the Derveni papyrus. It has been attributed to followers of Anaxagoras, said to be the teacher of Socrates.



A collection of charred scraps kept in a Greek museum's storerooms are all that remains of what archaeologists say is Europe's oldest surviving book _ which may hold a key to understanding early monotheistic beliefs.

More than four decades after the Derveni papyrus was found in a 2,400-year-old nobleman's grave in northern Greece, researchers said Thursday they are close to uncovering new text _ through high-tech digital analysis _ from the blackened fragments left after the manuscript was burnt on its owner's funeral pyre.

Large sections of the mid-4th century B.C. book _ a philosophical treatise on ancient religion _ were read years ago, but never officially published.

The scroll, originally several yards of papyrus rolled around two wooden runners, was found half burnt in 1962. It dates to around 340 B.C., during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

Last month, experts from Brigham Young University in Utah used multi-spectral digital analysis to create enhanced pictures of the text, which will be studied by Oxford University papyrologist Dirk Obbink and Pierris, and published by the end of 2007.


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posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 11:30 AM
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Would certainly be interseting to see what it says about the Orphic mysteries.

Whats neat is, Alexander was taught by aristotle, taught by Plato, taught by Socrates, taught by, apparently, Anaxagoras. And this document is possible Anaxagoran, in the hands of a macedonian nobleman, contemporary with at least Alexander's father, if not him himself.

The elite in Macedon weren't dumb barbarians eh?



posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 11:41 AM
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Apparently not. I also find it interesting that none of what has been deciphered from the scroll up to this point has been published in any way. What's the big secret?



posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 02:07 PM
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"In a way, it was a precursor of Christianity," Pierris said. "Orphism believed that man's salvation depended on his knowledge of the truth."


I liked the way that was worded. And I support that notion fully. I wonder what they do uncover about his opinions on religion. Anything exciting and profound? Probably not, maybe along the lines of some popular beliefs held today.

But none the less it's very intriguing to hear such opinions from someone SO FAR in the past pre-Christian times. Do either of you know a good reference for such things? I'd love to get a book on it.. curiousity has found me a new mate.



posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 02:21 PM
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You're not going to find anything about Orpheus' opinions because he's a fictional character from greek myth. Orpheus, remember, he's the one who could play a musical instrument so well that the rocks would dance down from the mountains to it? He went into the underworld to try to rescue his wife? Orpheus in the Underworld??

Thats where the 'salvation' issue comes from too, he went into the underworld to bring her back.

He actually failed though. The Orphic mysteries are complex. Its too wide a statement to say its a precursor to christianity. That would require that initiates of the Orphic Mystery were involved in early christainity, or that they became invovled with it and radically changed it. Christianity really does seem to stem from Judaism, more so that Orphism, Mithraism, Elusis, etc.



posted on Jun, 1 2006 @ 02:28 PM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
You're not going to find anything about Orpheus' opinions because he's a fictional character from greek myth. Orpheus, remember, he's the one who could play a musical instrument so well that the rocks would dance down from the mountains to it? He went into the underworld to try to rescue his wife? Orpheus in the Underworld??

Thats where the 'salvation' issue comes from too, he went into the underworld to bring her back.

He actually failed though. The Orphic mysteries are complex. Its too wide a statement to say its a precursor to christianity. That would require that initiates of the Orphic Mystery were involved in early christainity, or that they became invovled with it and radically changed it. Christianity really does seem to stem from Judaism, more so that Orphism, Mithraism, Elusis, etc.


Correct, I did a huge project on him for my english class for my senior year in High school. What I was referring to is the idealism behind that all back in the day, if others thought that way. If you knew of any books that discussed that. But you said I won't find much though in general?

But I was going on to say that I feel by the quote I quoted was that "Finding out truths, more about the scientific world and our universe around us, will keep us from destruction", however that's just my interpretation of it.



posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 12:18 PM
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I think that the biggest problem with the mystery schools is that they were mysterious, even to the people of the time, and didn't tend to record texts and holy books, like with judaism, christainity, zoroastrianism, etc etc. Though many mystery schools seem to be offshoots of philosophical movements, and in that way we have some philosophical texts left. Like with the Druze, they have neoplatonic elements to their religion, which is a secret. SO we can't directly study their religion in some ways, but we can look at the philosophy texts. Similarly the allawis in syria, to which the current President of Syria belongs, have a holy text, and neoplatonic elements, which permit it to be studied.

This text we are talking about here, it'd be interesting to see if its particularly relevatory. I have to wonder though, because its been translated before, and it apparently wasn't important enough to print copies of a direct translation of it. The general information contained in it perhaps has been passed around amoung the classicists that study this sort of thing though.


As far as the saviour aspect of dionysus, there are other problems with that. Its possible that these kinds of things have been taken from christianity and incorporated into other religions, such as may be hinted at here:
z.about.com...

The 'crucified bacchus/dionysus'. The object's true date isn't known, it may predate or postdate christianity, I think most lean to it postdating it (why would bacchus be killed in such a roman way, for example?). If so, it shows a clear carry-over. Interesting also, coincidentally, that the cross looks like an anchor, which is also a christian symbol.



posted on Jun, 2 2006 @ 12:35 PM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
As far as the saviour aspect of dionysus, there are other problems with that. Its possible that these kinds of things have been taken from christianity and incorporated into other religions, such as may be hinted at here:
z.about.com...

The 'crucified bacchus/dionysus'. The object's true date isn't known, it may predate or postdate christianity, I think most lean to it postdating it (why would bacchus be killed in such a roman way, for example?). If so, it shows a clear carry-over. Interesting also, coincidentally, that the cross looks like an anchor, which is also a christian symbol.

I thought that particular little piece was discovered to be a hoax. I forget where I read that. I'll scrounge around a bit and see if I can find it.

Nope. Although I did find out that St. Clement was martyred by being tied to a boat anchor. Maybe there's some link between those two things.

[edit on 2-6-2006 by Enkidu]




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