295 years is how much the leather-bound Lutheran Psalter spent aboard the sunken German ship “Archangel Raphael”. The world has not yet had a book that, having lain so many years in salty sea water, required minimal restoration, the experts say. Archaeologist-divers of the RGS URC retrieved it in the summer of 2019 from aboard the 18th century German ship that transported smuggled goods. The ship -"Archangel Raphael" - sank in 1724 off the coast of the Gulf of Finland. As it turned out, the book was well-canned, which allowed it to survive.
“This is the sixth season of work at the -"Archangel Raphael", and our old friend never ceases to amaze,” says Sergei Fokin, executive director of the Underwater Research Center of the RGS. “A rich collection of European household items from the end of the 17th century has already been collected and prepared for exhibition; new technologies have been developed and are applied in conservation and restoration - some artifacts literally force you to try previously unknown techniques. We were lucky, at first we restored a fragment of the Bible - a fifth of the Epistle to the Corinthians – and perfected the technology. And now we are ready for the new gift from the "Archangel Raphael." This is one of the first artifacts that we recovered this season, ” said Sergey Fokin.
At the moment, the Psalter is stored in a special box filled with sea water. The pages begin to “crumble” in the air, and it is necessary that the artifact gradually gets used to the new conditions. A preliminary examination of the folio has already been carried out by scientists.
In the future, the restorers of the RGS Underwater Researches Center plan to clear the Psalter of sea water and restore it. After that, the book will appear in one of the Russian museums.
“The text of the book is printed in German, and in its current state it is quite difficult to read with the naked eye,” comments Roman Prokhorov, archaeologist-restorer of the RGS Underwater Researches Center. “However, if we use special magnifying glasses, then we can make out the time of publication of the book, which is 1692 (Caspar Holwein Publishing House).”
It turns out that the Psalter is one year older than the vessel on which it was found. On the leather binding, indented images of two figures are visible - male and female. A page from another book was also found under the cover. Scientists suspect that this is a technical insert. The text on it is printed in Latin. What it says exactly is yet to be figured it out.
The Psalter has approximately 500 pages, collected in 50 notebooks stitched together.
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