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The Diamond Sutra: The Oldest Printed 'Book' by The British Library

Course, Subject

Global History and Geography, Social Studies, Social Studies, Social Studies (NYS K-12 Framework Common Core)

Grade Levels

9th Grade, 10th Grade


This copy of the ‘Diamond Sutra’ is the world’s earliest, dated, printed book (AD 868). A central text of the Indian Buddhism, the Diamond Sutra was first translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in about AD 400. Carved wooden blocks were used to print on a scroll made from seven panels of paper. 40,000 such scrolls were found in 1900 when the sealed-up door of a cave was revealed during restoration work at a monastery near Dunhuang, in Chinese Central Asia. The cave had been sealed in about AD 1000 and had remained hidden since then, the desert air providing the perfect conditions for the preservation of the paper and silk scrolls inside.

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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest libraries.

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