Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Wednesday, September 08, 2010

It's not an Upper Egypt story, nor even Dynastic Egypt, but I've not seen it elsewhere so I thought I'd share it.

Apparently a 1200 year old Psalter, tne "Faddan More Psalter" was found in an Irish bog about 4 years ago. Testing has now shown that the lining of the leather cover is made from Egyptian papyrus. It's not yet known whether the leather is also Egyptian.

It's easy to think of international trade being an entirely modern affair but trade links date back to antiquity. In fact faience beads and necklaces have also been found in Britain, and especially in Ireland. As explains, this probably wasn't through direct trade of beads but by propagation of the knowledge of manufacturing techniques. That's even more interesting. A bag of beads can be passed from trader to trader. Since there are so many practical steps involved in manufacturing techniques, inevitably a skilled transition needs to move to pass the knowledge on. Again that would probably happen in stages with an individual glassmaker perhaps moving only to the next town. If, say, every 5 years an apprentice moved 50 miles to avoid existing competition, knowledge could spread 1,000 miles in only a century. So while we cannot rule out long distance travel, we mustn't rule out a gradual dispersal of manufacturing knowledge.

Returning the the papyrus, it's not been carbon-dated yet - immersion in a peat bog could be the reason for that. It's therefore not known how old the papyrus is.


Brian Donovan said...

Its probably 8th century, based on stylistic evidence, but it could be an older cover. There have been a number of incidental connections discovered here in Ireland to Egyptian Christianity, but this is without doubt one of the most important. Irish monks were especially interested in the "desert fathers" of monasticism, as it was monastic Christianity which first flourished in Ireland, and not Greek or Roman forms. There are also two Tau crosses still standing in Ireland, although they might be unrelated.


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