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A few notes on Parchment and Vellum

Some additional information on  Parchment - Vellum

PARCHMENT: Skin of goat or sheep or deer specially dressed as support
for writing, illuminating. In English, though earlier the term
'parchemin' existed, later form in -ment developed  from a medieval
latin expression 'pergamentum'. In late Latin parchment came to
substitute 'membrana' and was also called (charta) 'pergamena' meaning
sheet, document prepared in the manner of that type of material
originally made in the city of Pergamum in Mysia, Asia Minor (today's
Bergama in Turkey). Pergamena, the adjectiv in the feminin in latin
deriving from Pergamum, means belonging,pertaining to Pergamum.
According to a Roman tradition, Eumenes II, king of this artistic city
between 197-159 B.C., had introduced its major use in response to a
shortage of papyri not being exported from Egypt, due to rivalry between
the library of Alexandria and that of Pergamum. The latter's public
library building, of which the excavators have identified remains on the
tower-like hill (in greek pyrgos = tower, citadel, hence the name of the
city),with its colonnade, reading-lecture room, storage halls,
apparently contained many many original and ancient volumes (= rolls,
latin volvere: to turn, to roll). Marc Anthony who at the time
controlled the capital city of Pergamum in the Roman Province of Asia
Minor, having fallen in love with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra, decided
to give in 41 B.C. the library's all 200.000 scrolls as a present to

VELLUM:  A very smooth and thin kind of skin (or parchment) prepared out
of calf,kid and lamb skin. Originally, the word comes from 'vitellus'
which gave in old french 'vel' (veal), whence later 'papier vélin',
meaning a light but strong, hand made paper. Used for special editions,
this paper was developed in imitation of the real thing. In Latin
'vellum' would also mean hairy stuff of the sheep and 'vellere' to tear
off the hair. Is this term directly connected to the membranes of fine
skin prepared as textblock for books in antiquity? Coudn't tell. But, we
know that vellum manuscripts in codex form existed in classical Rome in
the big law-books, for example, convenient for reference and pages more
durable than papyri.

Rezan Peya Gökçen,

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