The Vatican is to digitise more than 82,000 important religious documents for future generations with some dating back to the beginning of the last millenium.
The digitisation (in Italian) of the estimated 41m manuscripts is expected to cost about €8m. The Vatican's Apostolic Library, which dates back as far as 1451 and was founded by Pope Nicholas V, commissioned the work.
Since the 15th century, some of world's most important documents from an historical perspective are based in its vaults and it is hoped this project will not just allow future generations to see the manuscripts, but also allow current generations to get a glimpse inside one of the most secure archives on Earth.
The oldest document in the library's archive dates back to Roman times in 44 AD and is one of the few documents to survive after the collapse of one of the greatest civilisations in history and features the poetry of Virgil.
The digitisation process is being undertaken by a Japanese IT systems specialist company, NTT Data Corporation. The company hopes to digitise 3,000 of the documents by 2018.
Speaking about the process, the president of NTT Data at the Vatican, Toshio Iwamoto, said the project would help “preserve valuable treasures of mankind”.