However, not all medieval manuscripts
were written on
The Middle Ages opened with a long legacy of papyrus
book production, and this fragile Egyptian reed material lingered on in
occasional use until the seventh or even eighth century. Papyrus is inexpensive
to make and suitable for writing rolls
but is not satisfactory for texts bound in book form because pages tend
to snap off when they are turned repeatedly and the folds are not strong
enough to support constant pressure on sewing threads in the centre of
The non-durability of papyrus determined the type of manuscript which dominated
as long as this material was the main writing material: a roll.
are of different size. Some of them reach the size of forty meters, but
usually they vary from six to ten meters in length. The text was located
in columns from left to right. For better preservation of papyrus material,
the rolls were wound on special wooden or bone sticks with round-shaped
endings. The wound roll was put into a leather case. The production of
papyrus in the fourth-sixth centuries was a monopoly of Egypt. Papyrus
continued to be produced there even after the Arabic conquest (640) till
the tenth century. Papyrus production continued for a long time in Sicily
where it came from Egypt during the papacy of Gregory I (590-604). Papyrus
plantations on the island survived until the thirteenth century, and the
Papal chancellery used papyrus for correspondence until the eleventh century.
The word "papyrus," survives in modern English in our word "paper."