Carbon dating the torah
A synagogue in the Italian town of Biella stores what has been identified as the world’s oldest Torah scroll still currently in use.
Carbon-14 dating conducted by the Geo-chronology laboratory of the University of Illinois dated the scroll to around the year 1250 CE.
Dario Disegni, the president of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Italy, told a meeting of the Foundation board in Rome on Wednesday that Carbon 14 dating carried out by the Geochronology Laboratory of the University of Illinois put the date of the scroll at around 1250.
“This is exciting news that is of extraordinary importance for Italian Judaism,” he said.
The age, established by the textual, graphic and paleographic examination of the scroll, was confirmed by two carbon-14-tests, carried out at the Center of dating and diagnostics of the Department of Innovation Engineering of the University of Salento and by the Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory (Illinois State Geological Survey) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The antiquity of “Scroll 2” had not been recognized by Leonello Modona, a Jew, native of Cento, who worked for years as a librarian at BUB, and who was the first to catalog the BUB-Hebrew-manuscript-collections, in 1889.
University of Bologna Professor Mauro Perani explained how the scroll was obtained, saying, “It’s very possible that at some time it came into the possession of a monastery, was later taken to Paris after Napoleon suppressed the monastic and religious orders, and finally restored to Bologna after Napoleon’s collapse.” The Biella Torah scroll is due to return to its Italian home in a ceremony this upcoming Sunday.
An exciting discovery has been made of the oldest scroll containing the Pentateuch (it is not as old as the Leningrad *codex* from around the year 1000; but it is the oldest *scroll* with the entire text – 12).
The shepherds discovered seven scrolls (See Scrolls and fragments) housed in jars in a cave near what is now known as the Qumran site. Trever reconstructed the story of the scrolls from several interviews with the Bedouin.
It was believed originally to date from the 14th century.
It is not rare to find extremely old Torah scrolls, the sofer, Amedeo Spagnoletto, told Italian Jewish media.
“This is exciting news that is of extraordinary importance for Italian Judaism,” said Dario Disegni, President of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Italy.
In 2012, the Italian Torah was one of several antique scrolls examined by experts and has since undergone restoration.