On May 25, 1975, Archimandrite Sophronius, then the Skevophylax of the monastery, discovered a cache of manuscript leaves and fragments in the tower on the north wall of the monastery. The room where they were discovered had been used to store manuscripts in earlier centuries, and when the manuscripts were transferred to a new location in the early eighteenth century, these damaged leaves and fragments had been left behind. These were subsequently hidden when the floor above the room gave way during an earthquake. They were recovered during the renovation of the tower. When the mass of leaves and fragments had been gathered and sorted, they were found to reflect the diverse languages found in the library: the majority of the manuscripts were in Greek, with the majority of the others in Arabic, Syriac, Slavonic, and Georgian. There were also texts in Hebrew, Latin, and Ethiopian.
The content of these leaves also corresponds to that of the library. There are copies of the scriptures, service books, patristic texts, and more specifically monastic texts.
The most important documents were twelve pages and twenty-four fragments of the fourth century Codex Sinaiticus, and leaves from a psalter written in 862/3, the rest of which had been taken by Porphiry Uspenski in the nineteenth century. Also discovered were eighth century leaves of the Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus. These leaves are the oldest that survive, written within one hundred years of the composition of that book. Also of interest were leaves of Homer’s Iliad, written in the ninth century. The most significant Georgian manuscript was a palimpsest, and the underwriting was identified as Caucasian Albanian, the ancestor of the language spoken by the Udi people, most of which live in Azerbaijan. No other example of Caucasian Albanian has survived, except for a few inscriptions carved on stone, and a copy of the alphabet preserved in an Armenian grammar book. Thus the recovery of this text required the entire reconstruction of the language, based on these few extant examples. The palimpsest text is a copy of the Lectionary, and may date from the late fourth or early fifth century. Before the discovery of this manuscript, it was not known that the Gospels had been translated into Caucasian Albanian.
All of these manuscripts are of the greatest interest to students of paleography. They contain examples of Greek script from the seventh to the ninth centuries, which are critical to a reconstruction of the development of Greek handwriting.
Preliminary catalogues of the New Finds have been published, and scholars are only now beginning to consider these texts in more detail.