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Item is a 5” x 6.5” Qur’an, bound in calfskin leather. Cover is waterproof, with buckles and clasps that suggest that it was meant for travel. A bronze chain is attached to the Qur’an, as if like a bookmark. The end of the chain is severed, as if by force. Binding arrangement is standard RTL.

The pages of the document aren’t made from paper — microscopic analysis indicates some kind of plastic, very similar to modern Durabook polymers. The printing method looks like a form of offset lithography/intaglio printing.

The inks are particularly interesting, as well. The work is, by all indications, full-color, but the inks are all of the same chemical composition — a long-chain carbon polymer that works like a photonic crystal. In short: it reflects like in different ways due to how the molecules of the ink are arranged, not it’s chemical composition. The inks themselves fluoresce under UV light, and we’ve managed to recover some anomalous plant cells. We’re sending some of these off for analysis.

Despite the rather modern (and frankly, despite the great beauty of the the work, both aesthetically and as a work of engineering, rather unnerving features), sample analysis (using radioactive dating) of the cover and paper make the date of manufacture and printing of the work to circa early-to-mid 1500 AD.

Printer’s mark confirms this (nation of origin: Venetian Republic: Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia), with the following date notations in inner cover:

ANNO DOMINI 5 MAIUS 1537 / هجرة ٥٢ ذو القعدة ٣٤٩


Steampunk Nusantara: S.E.A. Steampunk

October 2010

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