Ancient manuscript set for UNESCO submission after fresh discovery

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A handwritten ancient Georgian Gospel dating back to the 12-13th centuries is featuring on a European archive website for the first time in Georgia’s history.

A digital copy of the Ancha Gospel – a 269-page leather and silver book – was uploaded on April 8 as the Featured Document on the Archives Portal Europe (APEx) website – an online database allowing users to easily find information from millions of archival materials stored in hundreds of archival institutions around Europe.

The prominent placing of the ancient Georgian text has allowed researchers from all over the world to access the ancient Georgian document and use its information for research purposes.

Several Georgia archived documents have appeared on the website since the Georgian National Archives of the Ministry of Justice joined APEx last year, however this was the first time a Georgian document has appeared on the website’s Featured Documents section.

Only documents of special importance were added to the Featured Documents section. To date, only 18 Featured Documents have appeared in this section.

The Ancha Gospel contained pages of handwritten words and one miniature. Initially, the Gospel contained four miniatures however three have been lost over time. At the end of the Gospel was a table of contents. The front and back covers of the book are decorated with metal embellishments and crosses.

The 269-page document was created at a time when Georgian art reached its peak in the 12-13th centuries. During that period different art forms were developed and educational centres opened, where mainly literature was rewritten and translated from different languages into Georgian.

The manuscript was written by a goldsmith named Beka Opizari. The current cover of the manuscript was created by Enuki in the late Middle Ages.

APEx said the goal of the website was to raise the awareness of European archives and make unique European archives “as accessible as possible” to as many people as possible.

Georgia’s Justice Ministry noted it would continue to fill the European archives’ website with unique ancient Georgian materials.