comparing manuscript page turning videos - Codex Sinaiticus and the Archimedes Palimpsest

Steven Avery

comparing page turning videos -
Codex Sinaiticus and the Archimedes Palimpsest

Codex Sinaiticus -
date of production c. AD 1840, amazingly some say 4th century
flexible, youthful, pages turn easy-peasy -

Archimedes Palimpsest - date of production AD 950, no dispute
ancient manuscript is brittle, stiff, pages turn with great caution and difficulty
(video found by cjab, thanks!)


Codex Sinaiticus

Video by BBC 4, Beauty of Books (2011) - length 2:03

Archimedes Palimpsest
Turning Pages of the Archimedes Palimpsest - length :39 (4 pages turned)



Facebook - Textus Receptus Academy

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Steven Avery

Archimedes Palimpsest
Encyclopedia, Science News & Research Reviews

Includes Turning Pages video.

Abigail Quandt


https://twitter. com/oxmedstud/status/1229513275190239234?s=61&t=CN7Xq1azV7DXPhFnIj20TA[URL] 2:30"tu...gws-wiz-serp#vhid=xbwr-J7szV289M&vssid=l&ip=1


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Steven Avery

What volumes are bound?

Sinaiticus - British portion in two volumes
Alexandrinus - four volumes
Archimedes Palimpsest
Vaticanus - quarto volume

Bezae - no


Theodore C. Petersen
Original Bindings and covers
Coptic - 4th and 5th century


Conservation of Books
edited by Abigail Bainbridge

2.1.3 The Earliest Multi-gathering Codices

It is a tempting yet reasonable suggestion that the combination of the features in these two early book formats, the wooden-tablet codex and the single-gathering codex, led to the making of the multi-gathering codex. The sewing through the fold could have been a feature inherited from the single-gathering codex while the idea of sewing together more than one unit (of either gatherings of papyrus or parchment) might have been adopted and adapted from the sewing of the wooden tablets into a codex.

There seem to be hundreds of fragments of codices from the earliest Christian centuries but those preserved in a more or less complete state including all or parts of their bindings are only a handful. From the 4th to the 7th century there are only about a dozen such codices all found in Egypt and today all but one is preserved in European and American collections (Szirmai 1999: Nongbri 2018: Petersen 2021).

From the 7th to the 11th century the number of “complete” codices increases considerably with most of them now preserved in collections such as the

Morgan Library & Museum (Petersen 2021). the
British library (Lindsay 2001).
Kairouan in Tunisia (Marcais and Poinsot 1948),
Sanaa in Yemen (Dreibholz 1997). the
Coptic Museum in Cairo (Petersen 2021. 455-67), and the
St. Catherine's Monastery Library in Sinai.

Most of these early “complete” codices are written in Coptic and a few in Greek; this is one of the reasons for the long-established notion that the binding technique of the early codices is essentially of Coptic provenance, a notion that needs to be reconsidered (Boudalis 2017). The bindings of the Coptic manuscripts do represent the bulk of the early bindings we have, but that is in fact a combination of the favourable conditions of Egypt that preserved organic materials that perished elsewhere, and of the predominance of Coptic monasticism in Egypt. We should always keep in mind that the earliest “complete” codices all come from a monastic context.

From the earliest “complete” codices of the 4th century a number of major features seem already well established, the most important among them being sewing technique. This is essentially a variation of the cross-knit looping technique, an almost universal fabric-making technique, which was well known at the time and place where the codex developed. The technique used for sewing together the gatherings of the multi-gathering codex is known as link-stitch (Szirmai 1999. 16- 19) or loop stitch (Boudalis 2018. 52) and has essentially remained unchanged for centuries in the bookbinding traditions of the Eastern Mediterranean. There are also a few multi-gathering papyrus codices in which the gatherings are not sewn together but they are rather individually tacketed to a leather cover (Szirmai 1999. 28-30; Nongbri 2018. 35, Figure 1.8).

Most of the early multi-gathering codices that survive were bound in boards, made of either wood or a papyrus laminate (Petersen 2021. 38-45). Based on the surviving material, the wooden boards of parchment codices were connected to the bookblock in a rather elaborate technique that essentially relied on adhesive in order to connect them to the bookblock: leather thongs adhered to the bookblock spine would be laced through the leather spine cover and the boards through a series of often numerous tiny holes (Szirmai 1999. 23-6, Figure 2.6). In papyrus codices the boards were usually made of papyrus laminate instead, occasionally even the outermost gatherings with the leaves pasted together (Szirmai 1999. 30, Figure 2.10).

Most of the early codices that have survived have a leather cover only across their spine, with the wooden boards left without any covering, although some of the early bindings that have survived have these boards decorated with painting or with inlay. The decoration of the leather in the spine consists of either blind tooling with simple geometric and animal motifs or of patterns drawn with ink on the leather. Several metal revetments—decorated sheet metal coverings—presumably originally parts of book boards, have also survived (Petersen 2021. 60-2; Lowden 2007).

The leather fastenings used in parchment codices are usually very long and often elaborate. Usually there are two long wrapping bands on each book, which when closed form a characteristic cross, an image rather commonly seen in representations of books in early Christian art.

In general it should be stressed that what survives from the first seven centuries of the Christian era, the period of the gradual establishment of the multi-gathering codex in the Western world, is really a tiny fraction of the book production of the period and we have to consider that most of the technical aspects of these early codices are destined to remain obscure. The monumentally high standards of construction of some of the earliest codices preserved from as early as the 4th century such as the Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Vaticanus, and the Codex Alexandrinus—none of which retains its original binding—all indicate that already by that date the bookbinding technique must have been well advanced.
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