Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ostromir Gospels added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program

Old Russian book part of Memory of the World

Tags: Russia, World, UNESCO World Heritage , Commentary, Culture, Gospel
Olga Bugrova

Jan 30, 2012 17:11 Moscow Time

The Ostromir Gospels, the second oldest dated East Slavic book, has been included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme, an international initiative launched to preserve the documentary heritage of humanity. The Voice of Russia’s Olga Bugrova reports.

The Ostromir Gospels was written in Church Slavonic in 1057 for St.Sofia’s Cathedral in Veliky Novgorod. The book was created by deacon Gregory for his patron, Posadnik Ostromir, possibly as a gift for the monastery. Though classified as the first Russian book, in fact, it isn’t. The Novgorod Psalm Book discovered in 2000 was written several decades earlier. It consists of four wooden plates covered in wax with the text scribbled over it with a sharpened stick. Researchers have yet to establish the exact date of the Novgorod Psalm Book.

The Ostromir Gospels has survived in good condition, which makes the manuscript still more valuable. All 294 sheets covered with large Church Slavonic characters used for solemn occasions have been preserved in full. The book is richly studded with miniatures and gems. At present, the monument is kept at the Russian National Library in St.Petersburg. Alexei Alekseev, who heads the Library’s manuscript department, comments:

"The original is stored in a special case. Each sheet is stored separately with special paper inserted between the sheets. We take it out when it needs airing. In the near future, we plan to post a digital copy of the manuscript on our website so that it could be accessible to all people interested in Russian history."