The priceless scroll was found in the archives of Bologna University, which was founded in 1088 and predates both Oxford and Cambridge.

The scroll, written in Hebrew, is 118ft long and 25 inches wide and consists of the first five books of the Jewish Bible, from Bereshit (the equivalent of Genesis) to Devarim (Deuteronomy). It had been wrongly dated to the 17th century by a librarian who studied it in 1889, but it now transpires that it is more than 800 years old.

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