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manuscript,a handwritten work as distinguished from printing. The oldest manuscripts, those found in Egyptian tombs, were written on papyruspapyrus
, a sedge (Cyperus papyrus), now almost extinct in Egypt but so universally used there in antiquity as to be the hieroglyphic symbol for Lower Egypt and a common motif in art. The roots were used as fuel; the pith was eaten.
..... Click the link for more information. ; the earliest dates from c.3500 B.C. parchmentparchment,
untanned skins of animals, especially of the sheep, calf, and goat, prepared for use as a writing material. The name is a corruption of Pergamum, the ancient city of Asia Minor where preparation of parchment suitable for use on both sides was achieved in the 2d cent.
..... Click the link for more information. , which succeeded papyrus as a writing material, was much more durable; most extant ancient manuscripts are of parchment. Both sides were used and palimpsests, which were erased and reused pages, were common. The discovery of the Dead Sea ScrollsDead Sea Scrolls,
ancient leather and papyrus scrolls first discovered in 1947 in caves on the NW shore of the Dead Sea. Most of the documents were written or copied between the 1st cent. B.C. and the first half of the 1st cent. A.D.
..... Click the link for more information. in the mid-20th cent. added immeasurably to the world's treasury of ancient manuscripts. In the ancient world the making and distribution of extra copies of manuscripts was widely practiced. There is some evidence of such treatment of manuscripts in Athens in the 5th cent. B.C., and the great libraries of the Hellenistic world encouraged the making of manuscript copies. The manuscripts of the Middle Ages were often beautifully illustrated in colors (see illuminationillumination,
in art, decoration of manuscripts and books with colored, gilded pictures, often referred to as miniatures (see miniature painting); historiated and decorated initials; and ornamental border designs.
..... Click the link for more information. , in art) on vellum, a fine variety of parchment. Initial letters of first lines and titles were often highly decorated. Although paperpaper,
thin, flat sheet or tissue made usually from plant fiber but also from rags and other fibrous materials. It is used principally for printing and writing on but has many other applications. The term also includes various types of paperboard, such as cardboard and wallboard.
..... Click the link for more information. was invented in China in the 2d cent. A.D., it was not known in Europe until the 11th cent. Paper bases included silk, cotton, and linen, all used before the advent of printing. Medieval pens were made of quills and inkink,
pigmented fluid used for writing and drawing, or a viscous compound used for printing, both of various colors but most frequently black. The oldest known variety, India ink or China ink, is still used in China and Japan for writing with small brushes instead of pens.
..... Click the link for more information. , most commonly black, of various carbon-containing substances. The study of ancient and medieval manuscripts and handwriting is a highly developed and complex discipline (see paleographypaleography
[Gr.,=early writing], term generally meaning all study and interpretation of old ways of recording language. In a narrower sense, it excludes epigraphy (the study of inscriptions) and includes only the writing that is done on such materials as wax, papyrus,
..... Click the link for more information. ). After the European invention of printing in the 15th cent., hand-copied manuscripts soon came to be valued by collectors of fine books. Among the important manuscript collections in the United States are those in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; and in the New York Public Library and Morgan Library in New York City. There are numerous superb European collections, notably those at the Vatican in Rome, the British Museum in London, and the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. Also known as manuscripts are modern authors' typescripts (or computer printouts) made for publishers and printers. The term includes as well the private and public papers, typed or handwritten, left by public figures for the use of historians and scholars. The Library of Congress holds a very large deposit of manuscripts of this type, including the papers of most U.S. Presidents. Other important collections of this sort are in the New York Public Library and the Massachusetts Historical Society. See bookbook.
The word book has come to have many meanings, e.g., any collection of sheets of paper, wood, or other material sewn or bound together; a division of a written work (books of the Bible, books of Caesar's Gallic War
..... Click the link for more information. .
See L. Deuel, Testaments of Time (1965); G. S. Hunter, An Introduction to Archives and Manuscripts (1990).
(1) A handwritten work preserved from the past. Ancient manuscripts are important historical sources, studied by paleographers.
(2) In the most general meaning, a text written by hand or typed.
(3) In publishing, an author’s text as presented to the publisher.