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Table of Contents
Main Sections
I. Function of Books
II. Book Production
      1. Parchment
      2. Papyrus 
      3. Paper 
      4. Ruling
      5. Pen 
      6. Ink 
      7. Gilding 
      8. Pigments 
      9. Bookbinding
III. Book Structure
IV. Typology of Books
V. Book Illumination
Back to the previous subchapter                II. Materials and Techniques of Manuscript    Production  Credits
2. Papyrus

However, not all medieval manuscripts were written on parchment. 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 gatherings. The non-durability of papyrus determined the type of manuscript which dominated as long as this material was the main writing material: a roll.

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The rolls  of papyrus 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."

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