Today I learned about the Tripitaka Koreana: likely the most successful large data transfer over time in human history.
The what, now?
This is a religious text stored in Haeinsa, a Buddhist temple in Gayasan National Park in South Korea:
- 52,330,152 characters, preserved for 8 centuries with apparently no loss.
- Apparently 52 million Chinese characters ~ 2Gb of information.
- 1,496 titles and 6568 volumes.
- 280 tons total weight.
- Each “page” is carved on wood blocks 24cm x 70cm, thickness from 2.6cm - 4cm, weighing 3-4kg.
- There are 81,258 wood blocks in total.
- Blocks made of birch were treated to prevent decay: soaked in seawater for 3yr, cut and boiled in salt water. Put in shade and exposed to wind for 3yr, then carved. Covered with poison lacquer to keep insects out, framed with metal to prevent warping.
- Storage facility has stone floor, then mud, then charcoal, then salt, then limestone for moisture management: absorb water during monsoon, release it during the drier winter to maintain near-constant humidity.
- Plates can be used to print paper copies for distribution.
More at the Twitter thread that first tripped me into falling down this particular rabbit-hole of
Man, the stuff you can learn if you just listen to other people…
Notes & References
Published Tue 2023-Feb-07
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