Found papyrus from Derveni – the oldest European manuscript

Found papyrus from Derveni – the oldest European manuscript

On this day in 1962, the oldest preserved European manuscript has been found at the Derveni site in Greece.

It is a text written on papyrus in the letters of the Greek alphabet. Unlike Egyptian papyrus texts, Greek specimens are much rarer because the climate in Europe has been less conducive to preserving papyrus for thousands of years. The dry climate in Egypt has been much more conducive to preserving papyrus.

The Derveni Papyrus is over 2350 years old. It dates back to about 340 BC, ie at the time when the father of Alexander the Great, the famous King Philip II, ruled the area. Macedonian. At the time this text was written on papyrus, the future conqueror Alexander was a young man of about 16 years of age.

The Derveni locality is located just a few kilometers from Thessaloniki, in the hinterland of that port city. Otherwise, the capital of the Macedonian Kingdom in the time of Philip II. was Pela, which is about 40 kilometers away from Thessaloniki and Derveni in the direction of present-day Republic of Macedonia.

The oldest European manuscript contains a kind of philosophical discussion of the content of a poem attributed to the mythical poet Orpheus. In this regard, it should be noted that in the territory of ancient Greece, the so-called orphic mysteries. They even had their own rituals, and the individuals who would fit in with them went through some sort of initiation.

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