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[BKARTS] It's not about the codex and it's not about parchment

I would recommend John L. Sharpe's excellent article "Wooden Books and the History of the Codex..." in "Roger Powell: The Compleat Binder," 1996. Sharpe makes a strong case for the argument that the codex form was common throughout the Mediterranean centuries before the development of Coptic binding and vellum sheets, only the material was wood.

After reading this I turned to Szirmai, assuming that Coptic bindings arose simultaneously with the common use of vellum. It's obviously what Szirmai wants to believe, but it's clear, also, that he doesn't have much of a case.

In other terms: there's actually very little evidence from which to argue that the common uses of a)codex; b)vellum, and c)Coptic binding are causally related. As for the argument that "it's obvious they are, because the vellum codex with Coptic binding is more [useful, cheap, sexy, whatever], that's proleptic - what I call Fred Flintstone Historicism. Just because *we* think they're all of those things doesn't mean people in the Classical world believed it, or that people didn't have other reasons to use other materials and techniques for centuries.

Paul T Werner, New York

WOID: A journal of visual language
THE ORANGE PRESS, publishing "Vellum Preparation: History and Technique"
DRAGONSBLOOD AND ASHES, a project to research and practice the techniques of the medieval scribe

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