1,500-year-old handwritten bible kept in Ankara, ministry confirms

The minister of culture and tourism on Thursday confirmed media reports suggesting that a 1,500-year-old Bible that was discovered by Turkish police during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000 is being kept in Ankara today.

According to media reports on Thursday, the Bible was seized from a gang smuggling artifacts during a police operation in southern Turkey in 2010 and reportedly preserves its originality and many traces of the period in which it originated.

The gang was reportedly convicted of smuggling various items seized during the operation, including the Bible, and all the artifacts were kept in a safe at an Ankara courthouse. The Bible, which was reportedly kept at the courthouse for years, was only recently handed over to the care of the Ankara Ethnography Museum.

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay said on Thursday that the ministry has received a copy of Bible from the Ankara courthouse which dates back to 1,500 years ago and is thought to have been written in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. He said the Bible needs restoration and it will be opened to public display after this. The Turkish media reports also said on Thursday that the Vatican has requested that Turkey allow it to examine the 1,500-year-old Bible; however, the Vatican Embassy in Ankara denied the reports on Thursday suggesting that the Vatican had asked Turkey to examine the copy of Bible in Ankara.

The leather-bound Bible, which is said to be worth TL 40 million, was written on leather sheets and is now under protection as it is regarded as a valuable cultural asset.

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