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Sunday, 8 September, 2002, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Treasured Koran goes digital
British Library Sultan Baybars' Koran
The work is a masterpiece of Islamic calligraphy
One of the British Library's most important Arabic treasures has been made available to the public using pioneering digital technology.

The library in London has made a digital version of a 700-year-old copy of the Koran, so that visitors can browse it without damaging the original.

The historic book, known as Sultan Baybars' Koran, is believed to be the first major Islamic manuscript to be made electronically available.

The work, written in gold, was originally made for a 14th Century Egyptian ruler. It is regarded as a masterpiece of Islamic calligraphy.

Tapping history

The project is part of the library's Turning The Pages initiative, which the organisation says aims to increase knowledge of world faiths.

Close up of Sultan Baybars' Koran
The work was written in gold
Visitors to the library can turn pages from the Koran displayed on a touch screen

An audio commentary explains important parts of the book.

Readers can also zoom in on a particular detail by tapping the screen and see the book in far greater detail than is possible on the original.

The work is also available on the internet or on CD-Rom.

"This Koran is an object of beauty as well as faith," said Prime Minister Tony Blair in a statement.

"It is excellent that the UK's national library has enabled so many people to appreciate such a magnificent work."

Other manuscripts that have been made electronically available by the library include the Lindisfarne Gospels, a notebook by Leonardo da Vinci and the Diamond Sutra, the world's earliest dated printed book.

The British Library has a collection of 150 million items covering every age of written civilisation.

See also:

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