The Derveni Papyrus is the oldest known European book. Since its discovery in 1962, it has been treated as the most significant philological find of the 20th century.
The script of the papyrus can be dated between 340-320 BC, but its content is a copy of a much older book, written probably around 420-410 BC. The retrieved text consists of 26 columns and is divided in two parts, with an Orphic poem included in the latter.
The Orphic poem, essentially a theogony, is interpreted by the author as a coded cosmogony. . The text of the Papyrus, which is the first book of western tradition, has a global significance, since it reflects universal human values:
The Derveni Papyrus is of immense importance not only for the study of Greek religion and philosophy, which is the basis for the entire western philosophical thought, but also because it serves as a proof of the early dating of the Orphic poems, which was widely doubted in the past, offering a distinctive version of Presocratic philosophers
the need to explain the world, the desire to belong to a human society with known rules and the agony to confront the end of life.