'old parchment becomes rigid and cannot be folded and unfolded'

Steven Avery

medieval writing - Handling Manuscripts
Dianne Tillotson

Old parchment becomes rigid and cannot be folded and unfolded, so conditions of handling must also allow for the material to be laid out carefully, which can be a problem for some very odd shaped documents such as long rolls.

This is a fundamental point that is never discussed in the modern Sinaiticus science.

British Library - and other - modern comments on research and condition and colour

All indications are that Sinaiticus is flexible and supple, in excellent conservation even today. Its condition is "exceptional". Either parchment science and observation has to be rewritten for the:

"Sinaiticus exception"

Or the Sinaiticus parchment is actually much younger than is claimed, with a far shorter period of use.


Kathryn M. Rudy

Measuring medieval dirt (2012)
Kathryn Rudy


parchment just grows darker and darker with increased handling. In many manuscripts, one can see exactly where the owner’s thumb had rested on the page while she held her book open. (Many medieval prayer book owners were women.) These thumb marks over time created dark areas, usually at the lower corner of the page.
I have now measured the dirt in the Books of Hours in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, and have received invitations to do so at the Royal Library in Brussels, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the British Library, and now at Guildhall Library and LMA in London.

hmm.. since Morozov pointed out the lack of this type of handling grime, Sinaiticus would be a choice subject.


Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art -
Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer

Kathryn M. Rudy

Discoloration due to wear is identifiable as such. ... It is very easy to distinguish the discoloration of wear from the discoloration caused by water damage, which likewise causes darkening ... Water damage always carries a high-water mark on its leading edge and can easily be identified.
a post-doctoral project I designed at the University of Utrecht. I noticed that these texts were often more worn - that is, darker with the users’ fingerprints - than other texts in the manuscript. I set out to discover if I could measure these varying degrees of use and handling to determine which parts of the manuscript were read and handled and which parts were ignored...


Canon and Text of the New Testament (1907)
Caspar Ren? Gregory


We have two manuscripts of the Bible written in large part, one in four, the other in three columns. The poetical books of the Old Testament do not count, because they had to be written in two columns on account of their verses. And these two manuscripts are palaeographically and theologically apparently to be referred to the fourth century.

What is ironic here is that this is right after a section about parchment. Caspar Ren? Gregory even speaks of a manuscript at a library in Leipzig, but never mentions the condition of the CFA.

Is Sinaiticus dated "theologically" and by easily copied writing styles? What about the parchment, the history, the colouring?


A Science Warning from Kathryn Rudy (in Dirty Books)

As we listen to the last gasp of the physical book, it is important to think about this material evidence and what it represents. What we have to gain by digitization and by abandoning the book as a physical object may be negated by what we have to lose. An important article by Nicholson Baker published in the New Yorker speaks to this issue. Baker decries the destruction of the card catalogue in favor of the digital catalogue, pointing out that the card catalogue, like the physical book, can preserve signs of wear in a way that its digital counterpart cannot.21

I make a similar plea that, as libraries continue to digitize medieval illuminations, they continue to grant access to the physical objects, which always hold more evidence than we first perceive. The Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, which preserves many of the examples taken up in this study, for example, has been in the forefront of digitizing images from its illuminated manuscripts, but at the same time has reduced the opening hours of its reading rooms. But they have done so partly because the reading rooms are frequently empty. It would seem that manuscript historians are largely content to study a digital copy from home if it exists. The convenience of digital facsimiles might be heralding the end of codicological approaches to manuscript studies. This is lamentable, as there is much subtle information stored in the physical object.

This is clearly a major problem with the current uncial science. Hardly anybody speaks even of handling the uncials that are famous in the UK, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and Bezae. So a scholar like Dirk Jongkind, writing a book on "Scribal Habits", where the date of the manuscript is a key aspect, is essentially flying blind. He may have seen Sinaiticus a bit, but he never even saw Alexandrinus for comparison. (Remember, Skeat and Milne said that Alexandrinus vellum was "limp, dead" in comparison.)

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