In October 2006, the Ethiopian Heritage Fund started its programme of work to conserve Ethiopia’s two oldest manuscripts, the Abuna Garima Gospels. Tradition has it that they were written by Saint Garima in the 6th century. The Charity recently organised a second Carbon 14 test of fragments which confirm that the parchment is from AD390 – 570 for Garima 2 and AD550 – 660 for Garima1.
In 2006 edges of the illustrated pages were conserved and their gilded binding repaired. The Charity's conservation work in 2006 was mainly on Garima 1. Lester Capon with the assistance of Julian Pendlebury returned to Abba Garima monastery to continue conservation work on Gospels in 2012.
The main purpose of the latest visit was to ensure that the pages of Garima 2 were correctly ordered, as over the years pages had become loose or had been bound in the wrong place. Daniel Seife-Michael, the patriarch’s representative was at hand to read the Ge’ez text and identify the pages and their correct place within the book. Some of the pages were reversed and some misplaced. There were also pages from Garima 1 in Garima 2. Once the order had been established the bookbinders undid the appropriate sections and removed and inserted the pages in their correct place. In some cases this involved creating vellum guards to strengthen the binding and protect the pages. The restorers also inserted vellum end papers. The old boards were then reattached.