A fragment of the world's oldest Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus, has been uncovered hidden underneath the binding of an 18th century book in an Egyptian monastery, news reports said.
British based Greek academic, Nikolas Sarris, spotted a previously unseen section of the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates from about AD350, as he was trawling through photographs of a series of book bindings from the 18th century in the library of St Catherine's Monastery in Egypt, UK's The Independent and the Telegraph reported.
Over the centuries, antique parchment was often re-used by St Catherine's monks in book bindings because of its strength and the relative difficulty of finding fresh parchment in such a remote corner of the world.
The 30 year old student conservator, who has been involved in the British library's project to digitise the Codex, said he almost instantly noticed the distinct Greek lettering visible in a section of a book binding, The Independent said.
"Although it is not my area of expertise, I had helped with the online project so the Codex had been heavily imprinted in my memory," Mr Sarris said. "I began checking the height of the letters and the columns and quickly realised we were looking at an unseen part of the Codex."
He then emailed Father Justin, the monastery's librarian, to suggest a closer look.
"Even if there is a one in a million possibility that it could be a Sinaiticus fragment that has escaped our attention, I thought it would be best to say it rather than dismiss it," he told The Independent.
Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Father Justin said the monastery would use scanners to look more closely at how much of the fragment existed under the newer book binding.
"Modern technology should allow us to examine the binding in a non-invasive manner," he said.