Claims of Bibles being found undamaged and intact at the site of disasters (e.g., fires, shipwrecks) that destroyed nearly everything else around them is a common religious trope, one often likened to a modern-day form of miracle.
One putative instance of that phenomenon which is frequently shared on social media is a photograph of an encrusted book described as an “ancient Bible” that was “found at the bottom of the ocean” and yet remained “still readable”:
In fact, the pictured object was not a Bible, nor was it discovered in the depths of any ocean. The tome was actually a German-English dictionary used as part of a crystallization experiment described and pictured in a 2014 blog post.
The experimenter, Catherine McEver, described on her “Stuff You Can’t Have” blog how seeing crystallized books during a maker studio tour in San Francisco inspired her to engage in some artistic crystallisation experiments of her own using books and other paper ephemera:
Interest in crystallization was piqued by a maker studio tour in San Francisco, during which I saw artist Alexis Arnold’s crystallized books made using 20 Mule Team Borax. They were enchanting and I wanted to know how it was done, but she was charging $400 for a how-to workshop. Upon googling after arriving home I found that the 20 Mule Team Borax website offers the dead-simple instructions for growing crystals absolutely free, and a box of Borax from the local supermarket costs less than $6.
– Use a glass or porcelain container large enough to immerse whatever object you want to crystallize.
– Boil water, and make a super saturated solution in your container using 1 cup boiled water per 3 tablespoons Borax.
– Immerse object (and in the case of the book, arrange pages using chopsticks) and wait for crystals to grow.
– When you think it’s crystallized enough, remove from solution and dry on drying rack. The book shown took less than 24 hours.
The end result is a fixed object – crystallized and surprisingly heavy.