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Lecture

Reli 302: Parchment

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Department
Religion
Course
RELI 302
Professor
All Professors
Semester
Winter

Description
Parchment Parchment was an ancient writing material typically made from the skins of sheep and goats The terms parchment and vellum are often used interchangeably but the latter designation refers strictly to the finer skins of a smaller animal such as a calf or kid In Latin parchment was usually called pergamena or membrana and in Greek diphthera or derma The word parchment is derived from the name of the city Pergamon or Pergamum in Asia Minor where parchment is putatively considered to have been invented at least according to popular tradition Pliny the Elder reports NH xiii 11 quoting Varro that parchment was invented Latin repertas in Pergamon as a result of a rivalry between King Eumenes of Pergamon II 197159 BCE and King Ptolemy of Egypt V Epiphanes 205180 BCE over who had the best library According to this account King Ptolemy stopped the exportation of papyrus and so the Pergamemes invented parchment to be used in place of papyrus Most scholars agree that the story is most probably legendary in nature since parchment was in use centuries prior to the reigns of Ptolemy and Eumenes Unlike the production of papyrus parchment took a considerable amount of time to produce and the complex method is well documented Parchment manufacturers would choose an unblemished skin of an animal and dehair it by soaking it in a lime solution for several days and then scraping away the hairs with a hand tool The skin would then be stretched taut left to dry and later treated with alum and chalk Finally the manufacturer would cut th
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