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First known map of night sky found in old parchment

The legendary star catalog drafted by ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus which had been feared lost has been found hidden in a medieval parchment that originated in the library of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St Catherine in Sinai, Egypt.

Scholars said they discovered what appears to be part of Hipparchus’ star catalog, which is the earliest known attempt to record the entire sky, hidden beneath Christian manuscripts.

The manuscript came from St Catherine’s Monastery but the majority of its 146 leaves, or folios, are currently at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. The Codex Climaci Rescriptus, a compilation of Syriac manuscripts written in the 10th or 11th centuries, is included on the pages. However, the codex is a palimpsest, which is parchment scraped clear of prior text so that it could be reused.

The extract was published online in the Journal for the History of Astronomy.