Parchment

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  • Animal skin (usually of sheep, goats, or calves) used as a writing surface. The term is often used interchangeably with vellum, which strictly speaking denotes only calfskin (Latin vitellus, “little calf”), which is top-grade parchment. Modern parchment can also refer to a high-grade paper made from wood pulp and rags and given a polished finish. The word derives from the Latin pergamenum, named after the Greek city of Pergamum, in Asia Minor. The story goes that its extensive library so rivaled that of Alexandria that the Egyptians placed an embargo on the export of papyrus, provoking Pergamum to improvise—hence the use of parchment. The material and lengthy preparation of parchment makes it a highly expensive medium. There is the sacrifice of an animal that if ...

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