The importance of Tamil loanwords in Biblical Hebrew is that linguistically these words are the earliest attestation of the Tamil language. Although a number of authors have identified many Biblical and post-Biblical words of Tamil, Old Tamil, or Dravidian origin, a number of them have competing etymologies and some Tamil derivations are considered controversial. The incorporation of Tamil loanwords into the Hebrew language originally came about through the interactions of West Asian and South Indian merchants. Due to its native speakers' location—in the critical path of trade between Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India—ancient Hebrew lexicon contains both cultural words that are common to many languages in the general area and loanwords from various other languages including Ancient Greek. By the mid-nineteenth century, Christian missionaries trained in Biblical Hebrew noticed that there were words of Indian origin in the Bible , including from the Tamil language. Most of the borrowed words had to do with items of trade that were unique to South India but which lacked native names in Hebrew.
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Palm-leaf manuscripts are manuscripts made out of dried palm leaves. Palm leaves were used as writing materials in Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia dating back to the 5th century BCE  and possibly much earlier. One of the oldest surviving palm leaf manuscripts of a complete treatise is a Sanskrit Shaivism text from the 9th-century, discovered in Nepal , now preserved at the Cambridge University Library. They are dated to about the 2nd-century CE and are the oldest known philosophical manuscript in Sanskrit. The text in palm leaf manuscripts was inscribed with a knife pen on rectangular cut and cured palm leaf sheets; colourings were then applied to the surface and wiped off, leaving the ink in the incised grooves. Each sheet typically had a hole through which a string could pass, and with these the sheets were tied together with a string to bind like a book. A palm leaf text thus created would typically last between a few decades and about years before it decayed due to dampness, insect activity, mold and fragility.
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