In the southern Sinai peninsula, at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Saint Catherine Monastery stands as one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. Recent restoration work inside the majestic building has revealed a 1,500-year-old manuscript that contains an ancient medical recipe derived from the research of the famous Hellenic physician Hippocrates.

Mohammed Abdel-Latif, assistant minister of antiquities for archaeological sites, explained that the discovered document is one of those known as 'Palmesit' manuscripts, dating to the 6th century AD. The manuscript is written on vellum, which is stretched leather--labirious and expensive to produce at the time and thus often reused, as was the case here.

The manuscript contains a medical recipe that the researchers attribute to Hippocrates, in addition to three other medical recipes written by an anonymous scribe, one of which contains drawings of medicinal herbs of the Greek recipe. The second layer of the book features extracts from the Bible known as 'Sinaitic manuscript' from the medieval eras.

The text was examined by researchers at the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL), which has an ongoing partnership with St. Catherine's Monastery. EMEL uses spectral imaging to read palimpsests. The technique is able to reveal the text hidden beneath the second layer of text in the manuscript, thus revealing what can't be seen with the naked eye. Speaking with Egyptian newspaper Asharq Al-Aswat, Michael Phelps, a researcher at the EMEL, stated:

"With a modern adaptation, we read a Greek text that dates back to the sixth century. The manuscript, which contains three medical texts, will be enlisted among the oldest and the most  important manuscripts in the world."

The region, which sits in a relatively remote part of the desert, was first used in the 3rd or 4th centuries by hermits and religious scholars. Since the walls and church surrounding the historic location were constructed in the 6th century, the monastery has been inhabited by monks ever since. A small number of monks live and work in the monastery today where they observe practices unchanged for the past centuries.

The library itself contains an estimated 3,300 manuscripts that are primarily written in Greek; however, texts written in Christian Palestinian Aramaic, Syriac, Georgian, Arabic, and Latin have been recovered as well.

The actual text that was recovered has not yet been released, as far as I am aware, but if I (or anyone else) comes across it, I'll put it up.