Secrets of Henry VIII's prize warship revealed

Portsmouth's Mary Rose Museum shows wreck and recovered artefacts.

The Mary Rose provides a snapshot of Tudor life on board the vessel. Photo / AP
The Mary Rose provides a snapshot of Tudor life on board the vessel. Photo / AP

The world's oldest Torah, the Jewish holy book, has been found in Italy.

The remains of a Tudor warship that sank more than 400 years ago will be displayed along with thousands of its artefacts for the first time at a new British museum.

Officials and historians say the £27 million ($50 million) museum not only allows visitors to view the wreck of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's flagship, but also provides a snapshot of Tudor life on board the vessel.

The Mary Rose Museum, at the historic dockyards in Portsmouth - near the exact spot where the 16th century vessel was built - opens to visitors tomorrow.

The Mary Rose led the English fleet in battle against France from 1512, but sank after three decades in service during the Battle of the Solent on July 19, 1545. The ship remained on the seabed off the south coast of England and was not discovered until 1971.

The hull section of the ship was finally lifted to the surface in 1982.

The museum is built like a ship, housing the wooden hull and galleries displaying many of the 19,000 artefacts collected from the wreck, from leather boots to cannons to the skeleton of the ship's dog, Hatch.

The recovered section of the wooden hull, measuring about 35m long and 11m high, will be kept in an airtight chamber with viewing windows as officials finish the final stages of conserving the wreck.

Meanwhile, what may be the world's oldest Torah, the holy book of the Jewish faith, has now been discovered at the world's oldest university.

The priceless scroll was found in the archives of Bologna University, which was founded in 1088. The scroll, written in Hebrew, is 36m long and 63cm 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.

The discovery was made by Mauro Perani, the university's professor of Hebrew. He recently re-examined the scroll and noticed that the script was from a Babylonian tradition that suggested it was much older than previously thought.

- additional reporting, AP

- Daily Telegraph UK

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