The oldest book in the world

After years of painstaking care, the oldest printed book in the world has now been restored, and is yours at the click of a mouse.

The Gutenberg Bible may have heralded in the age of the printed book, but nearly six centuries before this revolution, the Chinese produced printed books, albeit on lengthy scrolls. The oldest surviving such manuscript is the Diamond Sūtra, a copy of which is held by the British Library.

In December 2010, the BBC spoke to Frances Wood, Curator of Chinese Collections, about the restoration work that had been done on the book over a seven year period.

This long restoration project – which actually dates to 1987 – has now been completed. Earlier this year, a 16 minute video telling the story of the Diamond Sūtra was uploaded to YouTube. This video includes not only its history but the story of its restoration and the many problems faced by the Library’s dedicated team of scholars and technicians. Now, the completed project is available not only to view on-line but to buy from the British Library.

[The above article was first published May 28, 2013.]

Back To Digital Journal Index