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The codex (plural codices ()) was the historical ancestor of the modern
book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of v ...

book
. Instead of being composed of sheets of
paper Paper is a thin sheet material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemical composition ...

paper
, it used sheets of
vellum 267px, A vellum seal Seal may refer to any of the following: Common uses * Pinniped Pinnipeds (pronounced ), commonly known as seals, are a widely range (biology), distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, List of semiaqua ...

vellum
,
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a do ...

papyrus
, or other materials. The term ''codex'' is often used for ancient
manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriter A typewriter is a machine, mechanical or electromechanical machine for typing characters s ...

manuscript
books, with handwritten contents. A codex, much like the modern book, is bound by stacking the pages and securing one set of edges in a form analogous to modern
bookbinding Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines ...
by a variety of methods over the centuries. Modern books are divided into
paperback A paperback, also known as a softcover or softback, is a type of book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making p ...
or softback and those bound with stiff boards, called
hardback thumbnail, 200px, A typical hardcover book (1899), showing the wear signs of a cloth cover over the hard paperboards A hardcover, hard cover, or hardback (also known as hardbound, and sometimes as case-bound) book A book is a medium for recor ...
s. Elaborate historical bindings are called
treasure binding A treasure binding or jewelled bookbinding is a luxurious book cover A book cover is any protective covering used to bind together the pages of a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as t ...
s. At least in the Western world, the main alternative to the paged codex format for a long document was the continuous
scroll '', Vatican Library The Vatican Apostolic Library ( la, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, it, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana), more commonly known as the Vatican Library or informally as the Vat, is the library A library is a curated co ...

scroll
, which was the dominant form of document in the
ancient world Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0
"History"
from t ...

ancient world
. Some codices are continuously folded like a
concertina A concertina is a Free-reed instrument, free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. It consists of expanding and contracting bellows, with buttons (or keys) usually on both ends, unlike accordion buttons, which a ...

concertina
, in particular the
Maya codices Maya codices (singular ''codex The codex (plural codices ()) was the historical ancestor of the modern book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers t ...
and
Aztec codices , depicting the founding of Tenochtitlan. File:Codex Duran, page 1.jpg, Diego Durán: A comet seen by Moctezuma, interpreted as a sign of impending peril. (Codex Duran, page 1) depicting the departure from Aztlán. Aztec codices ( nah, Mēx ...
, which are actually long sheets of paper or animal skin folded into pages. The
Ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studi ...
developed the form from
wax tablets A wax tablet is a tablet made of wood and covered with a layer of wax , a typical wax ester. Image:Beeswax foundation.jpg, Commercial honeycomb foundation, made by pressing beeswax between patterned metal rollers. Waxes are a diverse class of ...
. The gradual replacement of the scroll by the codex has been called the most important advance in book making before the invention of the
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water ...
. The codex transformed the shape of the book itself, and offered a form that has lasted ever since. The spread of the codex is often associated with the rise of
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...

Christianity
, which early on adopted the format for the Bible. First described by the 1st century AD Roman poet
Martial Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has ...

Martial
, who praised its convenient use, the codex achieved numerical parity with the scroll around 300 AD,"Codex" in the ''
Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium Image:ODB.jpg, ''Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium'' The ''Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium'' (ODB) is a three-volume historical dictionary published by the English Oxford University Press. With more than 5,000 entries, it contains comprehensive informa ...
'', Oxford University Press, New York & Oxford, 1991, p. 473. .
and had completely replaced it throughout what was by then a Christianized
Greco-Roman world File:Merida Roman Theatre2.jpg, Roman Theatre of Mérida, Spain. The term "Greco-Roman world" (also "Greco-Roman culture" or ; spelled Graeco-Roman in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth), as understood by modern scholars and writers, r ...
by the 6th century.


Etymology and origins

The word codex comes from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
word ''caudex'', meaning "trunk of a tree", “block of wood” or “book”. The codex began to replace the
scroll '', Vatican Library The Vatican Apostolic Library ( la, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, it, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana), more commonly known as the Vatican Library or informally as the Vat, is the library A library is a curated co ...

scroll
almost as soon as it was invented. In
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
, by the fifth century, the codex outnumbered the scroll by ten to one based on surviving examples. By the sixth century, the scroll had almost vanished as a medium for literature. The change from rolls to codices roughly coincides with the transition from
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a do ...

papyrus
to
parchment Parchment is a writing material Writing material refers to the materials that provide the surfaces on which humans use writing instruments A writing implement or writing instrument is an object used to produce writing Writing is a mediu ...

parchment
as the preferred writing material, but the two developments are unconnected. In fact, any combination of codices and scrolls with papyrus and parchment is technically feasible and common in the historical record. Technically, even modern
paperback A paperback, also known as a softcover or softback, is a type of book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making p ...
s are codices, but publishers and scholars reserve the term for
manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriter A typewriter is a machine, mechanical or electromechanical machine for typing characters s ...

manuscript
(hand-written) books produced from
Late antiquity Late antiquity is a periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Inst ...
until the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
. The scholarly study of these manuscripts from the point of view of the
bookbinding Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines ...
craft is called
codicology Codicology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic ...
. The study of ancient documents in general is called
paleography Palaeography ( UK) or paleography (American and British English spelling differences#Simplification of ae and oe, US; ultimately from grc-gre, , ''palaiós'', "old", and , ''gráphein'', "to write") is the study of historic writing systems a ...

paleography
. The codex provided considerable advantages over other book formats, primarily its compactness, sturdiness, economic use of materials by using both sides (
recto and verso ''Recto'' is the "right" or "front" side and ''verso'' is the "left" or "back" side when text is written or printed on a leaf of paper () in a bound item such as a codex, book, broadsheet, or pamphlet. Etymology The terms are shortened from ...

recto and verso
), and ease of reference (a codex accommodates
random access Random access (more precisely and more generally called direct access) is the ability to access an arbitrary element of a sequence in equal time or any datum from a population of addressable elements roughly as easily and efficiently as any other ...
, as opposed to a scroll, which uses
sequential access Sequential access is a term describing a group of elements (such as data in a memory array or a Hard disk drive, disk file or on magnetic tape data storage) being accessed in a predetermined, ordered sequence. It is the opposite of random access, t ...
.)


History

The
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...
used precursors made of reusable wax-covered tablets of wood for taking notes and other informal writings. Two ancient
polyptych 300px, Opened view of the '' Jan_van_Eyck.html"_;"title="Ghent_Altarpiece'':_Jan_van_Eyck">Ghent_Altarpiece'':_Jan_van_Eyck_(1432).__There_is_a_different_view_when_the_wings_are_closed. A_polyptych_(_;_Greek_language.html" "title="Jan van Eyck" ...
s, a ''pentaptych'' and ''octoptych'' excavated at
Herculaneum Herculaneum ( it, Ercolano) was an ancient town, located in the modern-day ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and f ...

Herculaneum
, used a unique connecting system that presages later sewing on of thongs or cords.
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
may have been the first Roman to reduce scrolls to bound pages in the form of a note-book, possibly even as a papyrus codex. At the turn of the 1st century AD, a kind of folded parchment notebook called ''pugillares membranei'' in Latin became commonly used for writing in the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. Theodore Cressy Skeat theorized that this form of notebook was invented in Rome and then spread rapidly to the Near East. Codices are described in certain works by the
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestur ...
poet,
Martial Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has ...

Martial
. He wrote a series of five
couplet A couplet is a pair of successive Line (poetry), lines of Metre (poetry), metre in poetry. A couplet usually consists of two successive lines that rhyme and have the same metre. A couplet may be formal (closed) or run-on (open). In a formal (or ...

couplet
s meant to accompany gifts of literature that Romans exchanged during the festival of
Saturnalia Saturnalia is an ancient Roman festival and holiday in honour of the god Saturn Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius of about nine an ...
. Three of these books are specifically described by Martial as being in the form of a codex; the poet praises the compendiousness of the form (as opposed to the scroll), as well as the convenience with which such a book can be read on a journey. In another poem by Martial, the poet advertises a new edition of his works, specifically noting that it is produced as a codex, taking less space than a scroll and being more comfortable to hold in one hand. According to Theodore Cressy Skeat, this might be the first recorded known case of an entire edition of a literary work (not just a single copy) being published in codex form, though it was likely an isolated case and was not a common practice until a much later time. In his discussion of one of the earliest parchment codices to survive from
Oxyrhynchus Oxyrhynchus (; grc-gre, Ὀξύρρυγχος, Oxýrrhynchos, sharp-nosed; ancient Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Pr-Medjed''; cop, or , ''Pemdje''; ar, البهنسا, ''Al-Bahnasa'') is a city in Middle Egypt located about 160 km sou ...

Oxyrhynchus
in Egypt, Eric Turner seems to challenge Skeat's notion when stating, "its mere existence is evidence that this book form had a prehistory", and that "early experiments with this book form may well have taken place outside of Egypt." Early codices of
parchment Parchment is a writing material Writing material refers to the materials that provide the surfaces on which humans use writing instruments A writing implement or writing instrument is an object used to produce writing Writing is a mediu ...

parchment
or
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a do ...

papyrus
appear to have been widely used as personal notebooks, for instance in recording copies of letters sent (Cicero ''Fam.'' 9.26.1). The parchment notebook pages were "more durable, and could withstand being folded and stitched to other sheets". Parchments whose writing was no longer needed were commonly washed or scraped for re-use, creating a
palimpsest In textual studies, a palimpsest () is a manuscript A manuscript (abbreviated MS for singular and MSS for plural) was, traditionally, any document written by hand – or, once practical typewriters became available, typewritten — as opp ...

palimpsest
; the erased text, which can often be recovered, is older and usually more interesting than the newer text which replaced it. Consequently, writings in a codex were often considered informal and impermanent. Parchment (animal skin) was expensive, and therefore it was used primarily by the wealthy and powerful, who were also able to pay for textual design and color. "Official documents and deluxe manuscripts n_the_
n_the_late_Middle_Ages">late_Middle_Ages.html"_;"title="n_the_late_Middle_Ages">n_the_late_Middle_Ageswere_written_in_gold_and_silver_ink_on_parchment...dyed_or_painted_with_costly_purple_pigments_as_an_expression_of_imperial_power_and_wealth." As_early_as_the_early_2nd_century,_there_is_evidence_that_a_codex—usually_of_papyrus_ _ Papyrus_(_)_is_a_material_similar_to_thick_paper_that_was_used_in_ancient_times_as_a_writing_surface._It_was_made_from_the_pith_of_the_papyrus_plant,_''Cyperus_papyrus'',_a_wetland_sedge._''Papyrus''_(plural:_''papyri'')_can_also_refer_to_a_do_...

—was_the_preferred_format_among_Christianity.html" "title="late_Middle_Ages.html" ;"title="late_Middle_Ages.html" ;"title="n the late Middle Ages">n the late Middle Ages">late_Middle_Ages.html" ;"title="n the late Middle Ages">n the late Middle Ageswere written in gold and silver ink on parchment...dyed or painted with costly purple pigments as an expression of imperial power and wealth." As early as the early 2nd century, there is evidence that a codex—usually of
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a do ...

papyrus
—was the preferred format among Christianity">Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...
. In the library of the Villa of the Papyri,
Herculaneum Herculaneum ( it, Ercolano) was an ancient town, located in the modern-day ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and f ...

Herculaneum
(buried in AD 79), all the texts (of Greek literature) are scrolls (see
Herculaneum papyri The Herculaneum papyri are more than 1,800 papyri Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper Paper is a thin sheet material produced by mechanically or chemically processing cellulose fibres derived from wood, Textile, rags, poac ...
). However, in the
Nag Hammadi library The Nag Hammadi library (also known as the " Chenoboskion Manuscripts" and the "Gnostic Gospels") is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts Gnosticism Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is ...
, hidden about AD 390, all texts (Gnostic) are codices. Despite this comparison, a fragment of a non-Christian parchment codex of
Demosthenes Demosthenes (; el, Δημοσθένης, translit=Dēmosthénēs; ; 384 – 12 October 322 BC) was a statesman and orator of . His constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight in ...

Demosthenes
' ''De Falsa Legatione'' from
Oxyrhynchus Oxyrhynchus (; grc-gre, Ὀξύρρυγχος, Oxýrrhynchos, sharp-nosed; ancient Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Pr-Medjed''; cop, or , ''Pemdje''; ar, البهنسا, ''Al-Bahnasa'') is a city in Middle Egypt located about 160 km sou ...
in Egypt demonstrates that the surviving evidence is insufficient to conclude whether Christians played a major or central role in the development of early codices—or if they simply adopted the format to distinguish themselves from
Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), ...

Jews
. The earliest surviving fragments from codices come from Egypt, and are variously dated (always tentatively) towards the end of the 1st century or in the first half of the 2nd. This group includes the
Rylands Library Papyrus P52 The Rylands Library Papyrus P52, also known as the St John's fragment and with an accession reference of Papyrus Rylands Greek 457, is a fragment from a papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick that was used in ancient times as a ...
, containing part of St John's Gospel, and perhaps dating from between 125 and 160. In
Western culture Western culture, also known as Western civilization, Occidental culture, or Western society, is the heritage Heritage may refer to: History and society * In history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired ...

Western culture
, the codex gradually replaced the scroll. Between the 4th century, when the codex gained wide acceptance, and the
Carolingian Renaissance The Carolingian Renaissance was the first of three medieval renaissances, a period of cultural activity in the Carolingian Empire The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Franks, Frankish-dominated empire in western and central Europe dur ...
in the 8th century, many works that were not converted from scroll to codex were lost. The codex improved on the scroll in several ways. It could be opened flat at any page for easier reading, pages could be written on both front and back (
recto and verso ''Recto'' is the "right" or "front" side and ''verso'' is the "left" or "back" side when text is written or printed on a leaf of paper () in a bound item such as a codex, book, broadsheet, or pamphlet. Etymology The terms are shortened from ...

recto and verso
), and the protection of durable covers made it more compact and easier to transport. The ancients stored codices with spines facing inward, and not always vertically. The spine could be used for the
incipit The incipit () of a text is the first few words of the text, employed as an identifying label. In a musical composition File:Chord chart.svg, 250px, Jazz and rock genre musicians may memorize the melodies for a new song, which means that the ...
, before the concept of a proper title developed in medieval times. Though most early codices were made of
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a do ...

papyrus
, papyrus was fragile and supplied from Egypt, the only place where papyrus grew. The more durable
parchment Parchment is a writing material Writing material refers to the materials that provide the surfaces on which humans use writing instruments A writing implement or writing instrument is an object used to produce writing Writing is a mediu ...

parchment
and
vellum 267px, A vellum seal Seal may refer to any of the following: Common uses * Pinniped Pinnipeds (pronounced ), commonly known as seals, are a widely range (biology), distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, List of semiaqua ...

vellum
gained favor, despite the cost. The codices of pre-Columbian
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical and important region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the ...
(Mexico and Central America) had a similar appearance when closed to the European codex, but were instead made with long folded strips of either fig bark (
amatl Amate ( es, amate from nah, āmatl ) is a type of bark paper that has been manufactured in Mexico since the Mesoamerican chronology, precontact times. It was used primarily to create Maya codices, codices. Amate paper was extensively produced a ...
) or plant fibers, often with a layer of
whitewash Three different brands of kalsomine Whitewash, or calcimine, kalsomine, calsomine, or lime paint is a type of paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin ...
applied before writing.
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas."America." ''The Oxford Companion to the English Language'' (). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 33: "[16c: from ...
codices were written as late as the 16th century (see
Maya codices Maya codices (singular ''codex The codex (plural codices ()) was the historical ancestor of the modern book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers t ...
and
Aztec codices , depicting the founding of Tenochtitlan. File:Codex Duran, page 1.jpg, Diego Durán: A comet seen by Moctezuma, interpreted as a sign of impending peril. (Codex Duran, page 1) depicting the departure from Aztlán. Aztec codices ( nah, Mēx ...
). Those written before the Spanish conquests seem all to have been single long sheets folded
concertina A concertina is a Free-reed instrument, free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. It consists of expanding and contracting bellows, with buttons (or keys) usually on both ends, unlike accordion buttons, which a ...

concertina
-style, sometimes written on both sides of the ''
amatl Amate ( es, amate from nah, āmatl ) is a type of bark paper that has been manufactured in Mexico since the Mesoamerican chronology, precontact times. It was used primarily to create Maya codices, codices. Amate paper was extensively produced a ...
'' paper. There are significant codices produced in the colonial era, with pictorial and alphabetic texts in Spanish or an indigenous language such as Nahuatl. In East Asia, the scroll remained standard for far longer than in the Mediterranean world. There were intermediate stages, such as scrolls folded
concertina A concertina is a Free-reed instrument, free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. It consists of expanding and contracting bellows, with buttons (or keys) usually on both ends, unlike accordion buttons, which a ...

concertina
-style and pasted together at the back and books that were printed only on one side of the paper. This replaced traditional Chinese writing mediums such as
bamboo and wooden slips Bamboo and wooden slips () were the main media for writing documents in China before the widespread introduction of paper during the first two centuries AD. (Silk was occasionally used, for example in the Chu Silk Manuscript, but was prohibiti ...
, as well as
silk Silk is a natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all o ...
and paper scrolls. The evolution of the codex in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
began with folded-leaf
pamphlet A pamphlet is an unbound book A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more te ...

pamphlet
s in the 9th century, during the late
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
(618-907), improved by the 'butterfly' bindings of the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
(960-1279), the wrapped back binding of the
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
(1271-1368), the stitched binding of the
Ming The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming
(1368-1644) and
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last imperial dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford Univers ...
dynasties (1644-1912), and finally the adoption of Western-style bookbinding in the 20th century. The initial phase of this evolution, the accordion-folded palm-leaf-style book, most likely came from
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
and was introduced to China via Buddhist missionaries and scriptures.
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion ...
still retains the
Torah scroll A ''Sefer Torah'' ( he, סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה; "Book of Torah"; plural: ''Sifrei Torah'') or Torah scroll is a handwritten copy of the Torah, meaning the five books of Moses (the first books of the Hebrew Bible). The Torah scroll is m ...

Torah scroll
, at least for ceremonial use.


From scrolls to codex

Among the experiments of earlier centuries, scrolls were sometimes unrolled horizontally, as a succession of columns. (The
Dead Sea Scrolls The Dead Sea Scrolls (also the Qumran Caves Scrolls) are and religious first found in 1947 at the in what was then , near in the , on the northern shore of the . Dating back to between the and the , the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered ...

Dead Sea Scrolls
are a famous example of this format.) This made it possible to fold the scroll as an accordion. The next evolutionary step was to cut the
folios The term "folio", from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the po ...
and sew and glue them at their centers, making it easier to use the
papyrus Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a do ...

papyrus
or
vellum 267px, A vellum seal Seal may refer to any of the following: Common uses * Pinniped Pinnipeds (pronounced ), commonly known as seals, are a widely range (biology), distributed and diverse clade of carnivorous, fin-footed, List of semiaqua ...

vellum
recto-verso
recto-verso
as with a modern book. Traditional bookbinders would call one of these assembled, trimmed and bound folios (that is, the "pages" of the book as a whole, comprising the front matter and contents) a ''codex'' in contradistinction to the cover or ''case,'' producing the format of book now colloquially known as a ''hardcover''. In the hardcover bookbinding process, the procedure of binding the codex is very different to that of producing and attaching the case.


Preparation

The first stage in creating a codex is to prepare the animal skin. The skin is washed with water and lime but not together. The skin is soaked in the lime for a couple of days. The hair is removed, and the skin is dried by attaching it to a frame, called a herse.Clemens, Raymond, and Timothy Graham. Introduction to Manuscript Studies. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008. The parchment maker attaches the skin at points around the circumference. The skin attaches to the herse by cords. To prevent it from being torn, the maker wraps the area of the skin attached to the cord around a pebble called a pippin. After completing that, the maker uses a crescent shaped knife called a ''lunarium'' or '' lunellum'' to remove any remaining hairs. Once the skin completely dries, the maker gives it a deep clean and processes it into sheets. The number of sheets from a piece of skin depends on the size of the skin and the final product dimensions. For example, the average calfskin can provide three-and-a-half medium sheets of writing material, which can be doubled when they are folded into two conjoint leaves, also known as a ''bifolium''. Historians have found evidence of manuscripts in which the scribe wrote down the medieval instructions now followed by modern membrane makers.Thompson, Daniel. "Medieval Parchment-Making." The Library 16, no. 4 (1935). Defects can often be found in the membrane, whether they are from the original animal, human error during the preparation period, or from when the animal was killed. Defects can also appear during the writing process. Unless the manuscript is kept in perfect condition, defects can also appear later in its life.


Preparation of pages for writing

Firstly, the membrane must be prepared. The first step is to set up the quires. The quire is a group of several sheets put together. Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham point out, in "Introduction to Manuscript Studies", that "the quire was the scribe's basic writing unit throughout the Middle Ages":
Pricking is the process of making holes in a sheet of parchment (or membrane) in preparation of it ruling. The lines were then made by ruling between the prick marks.... The process of entering ruled lines on the page to serve as a guide for entering text. Most manuscripts were ruled with horizontal lines that served as the baselines on which the text was entered and with vertical bounding lines that marked the boundaries of the columns.


Forming quire

From the Carolingian period to the end of the Middle Ages, different styles of folding the quire came about. For example, in Mainland Europe throughout the Middle Ages, the quire was put into a system in which each side folded on to the same style. The hair side met the hair side and the flesh side to the flesh side. This was not the same style used in the British Isles, where the membrane was folded so that it turned out an eight-leaf quire, with single leaves in the third and sixth positions. The next stage was tacking the quire. Tacking is when the scribe would hold together the leaves in quire with thread. Once threaded together, the scribe would then sew a line of parchment up the "spine" of the manuscript to protect the tacking.


See also

*
Aztec codices , depicting the founding of Tenochtitlan. File:Codex Duran, page 1.jpg, Diego Durán: A comet seen by Moctezuma, interpreted as a sign of impending peril. (Codex Duran, page 1) depicting the departure from Aztlán. Aztec codices ( nah, Mēx ...
*
History of books The history of books became an acknowledged academic discipline in the 1980s. Contributors to the discipline include specialists from the fields of textual scholarshipTextual scholarship (or textual studies) is an umbrella term In linguistics ...
*
History of scrolls A scroll '', Vatican Library. An illuminated scroll, probably of the 10th century, created in the Byzantine empire. Image:Scroll.jpg, Scroll of the Book of Esther, Seville, Spain A scroll (from the Old French ''escroe'' or ''escroue''), als ...
* List of codices *
List of florilegia and botanical codicesA timeline of illustrated botanical works to 1900. BCE * '' Enquiry into Plants'' Theophrastus Theophrastus (; grc-gre, Θεόφραστος ''Theόphrastos''; c. 371c. 287 BC), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos,Gavin Hardy and Laurence Tote ...
*
List of New Testament papyri A New Testament papyrus is a copy of a portion of the New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Biblical canon#Christian canons ...
*
List of New Testament uncials A New Testament uncial is a section of the New Testament in Greek or Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area aroun ...
*
Maya codices Maya codices (singular ''codex The codex (plural codices ()) was the historical ancestor of the modern book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers t ...
* Traditional Chinese bookbinding *
Volume (bibliography) A volume is a physical book A book is a medium for recording information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both its essence and the nature ...
*
Grimoire A grimoire ( ) (also known as a "book of spells" or a "spellbook") is a textbook A textbook is a book containing a comprehensive compilation of content in a branch of study with the intention of explaining it. Textbook are produced to meet th ...


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * *


External links


Georgian CodexCentre for the History of the BookThe Codex and Canon Consciousness – Draft paper by Robert Kraft on the change from scroll to codex

The Construction of the Codex In Classic- and Postclassic-Period Maya Civilization
Maya Codex and Paper Making

*K.C. Hanson

*[https://web.archive.org/web/20110218052112/http://cdi.uvm.edu/collections/getCollection.xql?pid=manuscripts&title=Medieval%20and%20Renaissance%20Manuscripts Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, including Vulgates, Breviaries, Contracts, and Herbal Texts from 12 -17th century, Center for Digital Initiatives, University of Vermont Libraries] {{Authority control 1st-century introductions Books by type Manuscripts by type Italian inventions Codicology