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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,
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; calligraphycalligraphy
[Gr.,=beautiful writing], skilled penmanship practiced as a fine art. See also inscription; paleography. European Calligraphy

In Europe two sorts of handwriting came into being very early.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a Latin and Greek script used between the fourth and ninth centuries A.D.; a variant of the common book hand. Uncial has large uniform rounded letters almost completely lacking in serifs. There are no ligatures, and word boundaries are not indicated. Typical letters are a, d, e, h, and m. Uncial was used mainly in religious manuscripts, but also in Greek and Latin texts. In the eighth century it was abandoned as a book hand, but for a time was retained in headings.


Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaia, O. A. Istoriia pis’ma v srednie veka, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.
Diringer, D. Alfavit. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English).
Liublinskaia, A. D. Latinskaia paleografiia. Moscow, 1969.
Friedrich, J. Geschichte der Schrift. Heidelberg, 1966.
Jensen, H. Die Schrift in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, 3rd ed. Berlin, 1969.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. of, relating to, or written in majuscule letters, as used in Greek and Latin manuscripts of the third to ninth centuries, that resemble modern capitals, but are characterized by much greater curvature and inclination and general inequality of height
2. pertaining to an inch or an ounce
3. pertaining to the duodecimal system
4. an uncial letter or manuscript
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
En principio, los tipos mas accesibles a los jovenes lectores serian sin duda la semiuncial y la uncial, pero las nuevas minusculas de base cursiva progresivamente complicada por la presencia de ligaduras serian la pesadilla de los pequenos.
"Significantly," writes Kiernan, "the style of the capitals does remain constant through the prose texts, but it changes notably at the beginning of Beowulf?.' The script of the capitals switches from uncial majuscule to capital majuscule, but also, notes Kiernan, "the major difference is that the letters in the Beowulf line are drawn with more care, more evenness, more technical draftsmanship" (140-41).
(16) The titling type is all hand lettered, and the cover type is a peculiar invention of pseudo-medievalism, part uncial, part Byzantine, but that resembles many contemporary display fonts.
Then the title page: the exotic typeface (uncial, not arabic, but you get the idea), and the suggestion of a Persian chessboard.
The activity level of exotic cats, including African lions (Panthera leo), amur leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis), amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), snow leopards (Panthera uncial), fishing cats (Felis viverrinus), and clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) was compared to visitor interest at the Brookfield Zoo (Illinois) and greater visitor interest was associated with more active cats (Margulis et al., 2003).
(1) The author continues to list a further forty-seven abuses of the commonweal, each new complaint highlighted by an Uncial C down the left-hand side.
The curve of the uncial letter is the correlative, surely, of the round arch; it cannot be a coincidence that in southern Europe, where the pointed arch did not wholly replace the round, the uncial remained as the staple of all manuscripts.
(9) A similar corruption may have occurred at 22.3, where multa, read by nearly all our MSS, yields the better sense and is obviously right but where one MS, the uncial A, while also having multa, follows it (unmetrically) with cuncta, incorporating a marginal or interlinear variant from its exemplar into its text.
The Old English sentence is difficult to construe by punctuation, and it is not clarified by the uncial S (used in the same way as a modern capital) in Swa.
"The letter, in its graphic materiality, then becomes an irreducible ideality," wrote Barthes in an essay subtitled "A lettre" and went on to rhapsodize on the uncial manuscripts copied by Christian monks of the early Middle Ages, even going so far as to call that phase of premodernity "a new age, so completely has it been forgotten" (Oeuvres completes, vol.