April 26, 2019
1300-year-old book confiscated by security
by Michael Seidlinger
Here’s a headline sure to grab your interest during the consistently exhausting and defeating 24/7 news cycle of hell: a 1,300-year-old gold-gilded book was seized by security in an act of anti-smuggling. The Anti-Smuggling Branch of the Provincial Gendarmerie Command discovered the book when three smugglers from Bismal and Ergani districts of Turkey tried to, well, smuggle the book. They didn’t get very far. According to Daily Sabah, “the suspects were caught red-handed when the security forces raided a property in Bismil district, where the bargain was supposed to take place.”
But more about the book itself—the 102-page publication is about as rare as they come, written in Assyrian letters on aged papyrus and including religious material. The book isn’t the first to be seized; anti-smuggling operations are active and suspects are often detained for attempting to profit upon Turkey’s rich cultural heritage. Smugglers unearth documents and books and see the value hidden in their covers, transported across time, and in the name of financial gain. I’m reminded of a scene from an old Roman Polanski film, The Ninth Gate. One of the characters warned Johnny Depp’s “book detective” character about how books can be dangerous. Truly, they are.
Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.