The Process of Transcription.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
St. Michael's College Courses
Lindsey Eckert

SMC228 September 25, 2012 THE PROCESS OF TRANSCRIPTION: Manuscript Production Early Chinese bamboo books Papyrus scroll books -earliest surviving scroll book dates from the 4th century B.C -prominent in Egypt and Greek civilization -in decline by 3rd century A.D -rise of Christianity which favoured the codex format Parchment codices -made of sheets of parchment folded into leaves -favoured by Christians because the form was distinct from other religious writings Paper codex paper: writing material made from pulped rags, wood, or other fibrous material -invented in China as easily as 1st century AD -imported to Arab world by 8th century -travelled to Europe via Egypt and Spain by 12th century, though parchment continued to be the favoured material long after (paper was not as durable, needed a water source to run the paper mill) -didn't take hold in Europe as primary material for written and printed book production until the late 15th century -mostly due to the Black Plague -lots of rags due to lots of dead people -more rags to make more paper -1495 first paper mill in England -Gutenberg printed his bible on parchment AND on paper Anatomy of the Codex "A rectangular piece of paper [or parchment] used in printing [or manuscript book production] and then folded to create the leaves of a book" (Williams and Abbott, p. 166) -sheet is the basic unit of a codex NOT a page -the folded sheet creates a gathering of multiple leafs The Materials Papyrus Production What are the steps? 1. harvesting of papyrus reed plant (Egypt) 2. stalks cut into long, thin strips 3. strips soaked in water to release the plant's natural glues 4. strips laid out in 2 perpendicular layers 5. sheet is hammered out to release excess water and create thinner surface; helps natural adhesive stick together 6. it may be polished with a stone/shell/piece of ivory (for especially nice documents) Drawbacks? -writing on a single side -not as flexible/foldable as parchment or paper -less durable than parchment or paper -cost increased drastically as distance from Egypt increased Parchment Production -material made from the skin of animals -used specifically to refer to the skin of a sheep or a goat (adult animals) -vellum: material made from the skin of a calf, kid, lamb (baby animals) uterine: finest grade of vellum made from an aborted calf 1. skin washed thoroughly 2. soaked in lyme or brine 3. de-haired (hair side/flesh side); soaking process loosens hair follicles and makes it easier to take off the hair 4. stretched over a wooden frame to be scraped, first with pumice then chalk 5. divided and cut into sheets, which would then be folded into gatherings of leafs. Each leaf would lined or ruled Why parchment? Drawbacks? -reusable; resulting in palimpsests -you can write on both sides of the leaf -parchment is easier to fold than papyrus -not limited to a single region, like papyrus -durable The People -30-60% of the cost of a book went to paying or providing for the scribe -materials were 2nd most expensive part of book Scribes -a copyist of classical and medieval manuscripts -a scribe can refer to a public official, secular copyist or one of a monastic order (more recent term) -religious vs. secular scribes -scribal practice indicates a special skill set that differs from "normal" everyday writing Monastic Scribes -the essential focus of monastic life was the production of books and knowledge -many scribes were highly trained and highly respected in the monastic orders -however, scribal work could be a form of penance -conditions were uncomfortable -no artificial light (concerns about everything catching on fire, use of candles was limited; didn't want to discolour paper) -no heat (again, fear of fire)
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