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Space technologies offer glimpse at Tsar Ivan the Terrible’s rare portrait

May 26, 8:05 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The portrait was engraved in copper and subsequently imprinted on the leather cover of Russia’s first exact-dated printed book — the "Apostle"

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Russia’s first exact-dated printed book, the "Apostle."

Russia’s first exact-dated printed book, the "Apostle."

© Sergei Velichkin/TASS

MOSCOW, May 26. /TASS/. Multispectral imaging, a technology used in space research, allowed scientists to take a glimpse at the only portrait of Russia’s 16th century ruler Ivan the Terrible made during his lifetime and worn away to the point when it could not be seen with a naked eye.

The portrait was engraved in copper and subsequently imprinted on the leather cover of Russia’s first exact-dated printed book, the "Apostle." The book was published in 1564 by the decree of Ivan the Terrible.

"The Apostle has long been kept in the History Museum’s collection. Moreover, scientists of the 19th century spotted some kind of image on its cover, but it was blurred, with only contours visible. Thanks to technologies used by an expert with the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the image, which was fully destroyed by now, could be seen again," a deputy head of the State History Museum, Marina Chistyakova, told TASS.

The author of the portrait is yet to be established.

Ivan the Terrible (1548-1574), the first Russian ruler to style himself a "tsar" (a rendering of the name Caesar), remains a controversial figure among the Russians. Although his reign was marked by periods of terror, he played a key role in forming the Russian state, by laying down the borders of the modern, centralized country and creating Russia’s first standing army.

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