Answered By: Reference Burns
Last Updated: Jul 16, 2019     Views: 1220

image of cuneiform tablet in Burns Library's collection

The oldest item at the Burns Library is a Mesopotamian Clay Tablet from the third dynasty of Ur, 2100–2000 B.C.  This clay tablet depicts a field and is inscribed with 13 lines of Sumerian cuneiform script—the earliest known writing system. 

The oldest manuscript in Burns Library is a Franciscan antiphoner from the 14th century. It contains liturgical music, and has been digitized and is available online

The earliest printed book is Jean Gerson’s De Spiritualib[us] Nupciis (On Spiritual Marriage). This book has been digitized and is available online.  Printed circa 1470, this book is an incunabulum. To learn more about De Spiritualib[us] Nupciis, read this Burns Library blog post.


(Image: Fall 2009 Boston College Magazine)