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Harvard confirms antique book is bound in human skin

Published on Jun 7, 2014 7:42 AM
The book Des destinees de l'ame, by Arsene Houssaye (1815-1896), is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of Harvard College Library Digital Imaging Group, Harvard University. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Harvard University scientists have confirmed that a 19th century French treatise in its libraries is bound in human skin, Harvard University said this week, after a bevvy of scientific testing.

Arsene Houssaye's Des destinees de l'ame (On the destiny of the soul) is part of the antique book collection of the university's Houghton Library, which specializes in rare and antique works.

Harvard conservators and scientists used several methods to test the origin of the book binding material, using microscopic samples.

Through these tests, they were able to exclude the possibility that the book cover was made from the skin of a goat, a sheep or another animal.

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