As we all know, writing is an essential part of any language and is an important skill for any human to develop. Without writing, we today wouldn’t be able to read and enjoy beautiful literary works like poems, plays, and novels of famous writers like J. K. Rowling and Shakespeare. So humans developed writing majorly as a way to pass across messages, and to help keep a record of things like transactions or events that happened before. Some of these writings were done on paper, bones, gold, and walls.

So today we at THE RANKING WORLD decided to present to you our lovable and faithful readers the TOP 10 OLDEST BOOKS IN THE WORLD. Hope you enjoy it.

#10. MADRID CODEX (900–1521 AD.)

For the 10th spot on our list, we have the Madrid codex, also known as the Troano Codex, is one of the oldest surviving books that gives a description of the pre-Columbian Maya culture of around 900–1521 AD.

The codex was first discovered in Spain in the 1860s in two different places and of two different sizes. In total, the document contains 56 sheets painted on both sides to bring it to 112 pages. Upon further study, it was discovered that the language used is “YUCATECAN” so it was most likely produced in Yucatan.

The codex shows us a description of the horoscopes used by Mayan Priest in their rituals such as human sacrifices and religious ceremonies. It also depicts normal activities such as beekeeping, hunting and weaving. The codex is currently stored in the Museo de América in Madrid, Spain.

#9. GUTENBERG BIBLE (1454-1455 AD.)

For the 9th spot on the list, we have the Gutenberg Bible also known as the Mazarin Bible or the 42-line Bible. The book was printed by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany, around 1450–1455 AD. It was he who invented the printing press. The Guinness Book of World records recognises it as the world’s oldest mechanically printed book. The book is valued for its historical significance and its artistic qualities.

The size of folio used for the Gutenberg bible is ‘Double Folio’, with two pages printed on each side, thus making it four pages per sheet. Each page of the book contains 42 lines of text with some earlier few containing 40 lines. This book was of such high quality in its time that in a letter the Pope Pius II wrote to Cardinal Carvajal in Rome, that it is an “exceedingly clean and correct in their script, and without error, such as Your Excellency could read effortlessly without glasses”. Only 180 copies of this Bible were produced, with 135 printed on paper and the rest on vellum. Sadly, only 49 copies exist today.

#8. CELTIC PSALTER (1100 – 1102 AD ).

For the 8th spot on our list we have the Celtic Psalter, also known as Scotland Books of Kells, which dates from the 11th century as is now recognised as Scotlands oldest surviving book.

The book, as the name suggests, contains the handwritten text of the Book of Psalms by King David in Latin, along with Celtic illustrations such as dragons. It is a pocket-sized book that was donated to the university of Edinburgh in the 17th century but was just made available for public viewing in 2009 by the university.

The book is described as still being in pristine condition with its original binding lost, and its text still being bold and clear to read with its original colours of red, green and gold.


For the 7th Spot on our list, we have the Diamond Sutra also known its original language as “The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion“, which was printed on the 11th May 868 AD by a certain man called Wang Jie on the instruction of his parents as is stated in the document. It is regarded by the British library as the oldest printed document in the world.

The document was discovered in the year 1900 in a cave on the edge of the Gobi desert in china along with other documents which were hidden there in the year 1000 in order to hide it from a neighbouring warring kingdom. the document was translated into the several languages of East Asia such as Japanese, Chinese and Sanskrit, where it was a highly revered document. This feat was possible as the time due to the Diamond Sutra being a relatively small document containing only 6000 words.

#6. BOOK OF KELLS(800 AD).

For the 6th spot on our list, we have the book of Kells also known as the book of Columbia which dates back to the year 800 AD. the book got its name from The Abbey of Kells where it was housed for many centuries, before being transferred to Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland.

The book is an ornately illuminated manuscript that contains 4 complete gospels from the New Testament of which are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the Gospel of John up to John 17:13, written in Latin, with red, black, yellow, and purple ink. As of today, the book contains 340 vellum leaves, thus totalling 680 pages on which text is written.


For the 5th spot on our list, we have The St Cuthbert Gospel or also known as Stonyhurst Gospel, which dates back to 698 AD. It is recognised as Europe’s oldest surviving book. The Book was leased out by its owners, a community of Jesuits in Belgium to the British Library from 1979 up to 2012 when it was finally bought from them for $14 Million through a fundraiser for the library.

The book is named after St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, England, in whose coffin the book was placed after the man’s death in the year 687. It is a pocket-sized book that contains the Gospel of Saint John, which was written on 94 vellum folios. It is bound by a red leather goatskin cover.

#4. GARIMA GOSPELS (330 -450 AD).

For the 4th place on our list, we have the Garima Gospels, which are two ancient Ethiopian gospel books that date back to the years 330-450 AD. They are recognised as the oldest known completely illuminated Christian manuscripts. The books are kept in Abba Garima’s Monastery in Ethiopia, where the monks claim they have been kept since its inception.

The books are said to be written by a Saint Abba Garima who arrived in Ethiopia in the year 494 and is written in the Ge’ez language. The two books are aptly named Garima 1 and Garima 2 with Garima 2 being the oldest. Garima 1 has 348 pages left which contain 11 illuminated canon tables, while Garima 2 has 322 pages, which contain 17 illuminated pages.

#3. Nag Hammadi Library ( 3 – 4 Century AD).

For the 3rd spot on our list, we have the Nag Hammadi Library, also called the Gnostic Gospels, which date between the 3rd and 4th centuries. They were discovered by a farmer named Muhammed Al-Salman in the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in the year 1945.

The Nag Hammadi is a group of 13 leather-bound papyrus codices written in the Coptic language. The library contains a range of different Gnostic texts which range from a fully preserved Gospel Of Thomas which shows an early collection of Jesus’ sayings, to competing gospels and apocalyptic revelations. The Nagamadi codices are currently kept in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, Egypt.


For the 2nd spot on our list we have the Pyrgi gold tablets which date around 500 BC. they were given the name “Pyrgi” because they were discovered in the year 1964 during a series of excavations of a sanctuary in the ancient port town of Pyrgi in Italy.

The Pyrgi tablets are 3 golden tablets written in the two different languages of Etruscan and Phoenician, two are written in Etruscan while one is written in Phoenician, which consists of a dedication to the Phoenician goddess Astarte from King Thefarie Velianas. Although the tablets aren’t exactly a book, each tablet is bound by holes around its border, scholars think that they were once bound together. The tablets are currently housed in the national Etruscan museum in villa Aguila, Rome.

#1. ETRUSCAN GOLD BOOK (600-660 BC).

And finally, for the number 1 spot on our list, we have the Etruscan Gold Book also known as The Golden Orphism Book, which dates back to between 600-660 BC. It is thought of as the oldest multi-page book in the world. It was found in Bulgaria in the 1950s whilst digging of a canal in the Strouma River.

The book is made from 6 sheets of 23.82-carat gold bound together by rings with a total weight of 100grammes. Its contents relate to Orphism, which existed in the Hellenistic world. Its contents are written with the Etruscan alphabet and contain illustrations of a mermaid, horse rider, soldiers, harp, and priest. The book is now housed in Bulgaria’s National History Museum in Sofia.

Hope you loved this week’s version of the oldest books in the world, hope you learned something new about ancient religions, civilisations, and languages. Which of the books and its contents are your favourite please let us know in the comments. Mine is the Diamond Sutra.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here