Oldest Dated Book

May 11, 868 is the date of the oldest dated book. It is a copy of the Tang-dynasty Chinese version of the Diamond Sūtra discovered in 1900 in the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang in northwest China. The caves are the repository of thousands of ancient manuscripts.

The International Dunhuang Project (IDP) was formed in 1994. Much of its early work focused on conservation and cataloguing. But these have been supplemented in the past few years with digitisation, education, and research. The IDP DATABASE offers high-quality images of the manuscripts and other material, with cataloguing and contextual information.

Interestingly, millennia before Creative Commons, the Chinese Diamond Sūtra had an explicit public domain dedication. Its colophon at the end claims it was created “for universal free distribution.”

 By The colophon, at the inner end, reads: Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [i.e. 11th May, CE 868 ]. - Zoomable image from the British Library's Online Gallery. Originally uploaded to en:Wikipedia (log) in January 2008 by Fconaway (talk) and in November 2009 by Earthsound (talk)., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6925162

By The colophon, at the inner end, reads: Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [i.e. 11th May, CE 868 ]. – Zoomable image from the British Library’s Online Gallery. Originally uploaded to en:Wikipedia (log) in January 2008 by Fconaway (talk) and in November 2009 by Earthsound (talk)., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6925162

Disclaimer: The information on this website is accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time of writing. I make no guarantee as to its accuracy. Its purpose is to inform, educate, and raise awareness about causes and opportunities around the globe. I also encourage civil debate in the comments.

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