The ‘golden letter’, written by Burmese King Alaungphaya in the year 1756 to England’s King George II, lay in the vaults of Hanover’s Leibniz library for 250 years, as nobody could read its contents.
The letter, which took three years to decipher, relates to an offer of trading cooperation between Burma (current day Myanmar) and England, the research team found.
‘As far as we know, the golden letter is a one-off,’ library chief Georg Ruppelt said.
The letter, engraved on a gold sheet measuring 55 by 12 centimetres and inlaid with 24 rubies, was intended to demonstrate King Alaungphaya’s respect for the English king – who promptly sent the document to the royal library in his home city of Hanover, in northern Germany.
Danish King Christian VII damaged the letter, contained in an elephant tusk, during a visit in 1768.
‘This made the document even harder to decipher,’ Ruppelt said.