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May 10, 2021

The Parchment War

Once upon a long-ago time, two kings were at war. Not over land. Not over riches. Instead, they were at war over ... a library! You see, the king of Pergamum (that’s in modern-day Turkey) wanted to build a huge library. But the king of Egypt worried this new library would be nicer than his. So he hatched a plan to stop it. Manuscripts back then were mostly written on papyrus — a kind of paper made of reeds that grew in Egypt. So, the king of Egypt decided he wouldn’t sell any of his papyrus to the rival king. How could he fill a library without papyrus to write on? But the king of Pergamum had a plan of his own. People had started using animal skins — called parchment — as writing surfaces. So the king hired craftsmen to perfect the art of making parchment. Soon, the king’s magnificent library was filled with parchment manuscripts. So who won the library war? Well, both kings had wonderful libraries, but parchment books became the new way ancient books and Bibles were produced. And amazingly, these old books have survived through the ages.


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