Making Parchment

Scribes charged with reproducing portions of scripture have been called, “the techies of the ancient world.”Utilizing cutting edge technology of their time, scribes endured an arduous process to prepare the parchment well before inking their quill.

Any blemished animal skins would be immediately rejected.Selected skins were washed in solutions of salt, lime, chalk and even urine. Fermentation loosened hair follicles which were then removed by scraping with a long curved knife.

To thin the parchment, the wet skin was washed, stretched, and dried repeatedly.Then grouped and cut. Scribes drew margins and rulings—like the paper schoolchildren use—planning exact spacing for words and illustrations.

The endurance of the codices for more than two millennia is a testimony to the skill of those who produced them.

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Brought to you by Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C

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