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.

Engage with the Bible!

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

Share

More Book Minute Features

February 24, 2020

The Bible and Helen Keller

The story of the Bible is many stories of those who’ve discovered it over the centuries. Helen Keller was born in 1880, and as the result of an early...
February 17, 2020

Henri Dunant

The International Committee of the Red Cross was founded on this day in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland, inspired by the work of Henri Dunant. Dunant also...
February 10, 2020

Charles A. Tindley

Charles Albert Tindley, whose father was a slave, became one of the prolific gospel songwriters of his time! Although he didn’t attend school, he l...