From Academic Kids

Parchment is a material for the pages of a book or codex, made from fine calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin. According to the Roman historian Varro, Pliny records, it was invented about the beginning of the 2nd century BC, in Pergamon, Asia Minor, as a substitute for papyrus. In the Middle Ages European parchment in turn was largely replaced by paper, a Chinese invention that was being manufactured in Moorish Andalusia in the 11th century.

Parchment (pergaminus in Latin) is named after the city where it was invented. Pergamon had a great library that rivalled the famous Library of Alexandria. As prices rose for papyrus, while the reed was overharvested towards local extinction in the Nile delta, Pergamon adapted by increasing use of parchment. Though the Assyrians and the Babylonians impressed their cuneiform on clay tablets, they wrote on parchment also from the 6th century BCE onward. Early Islamic texts are also found on parchment.

One sort of parchment is vellum, a word that is used loosely to mean parchment, and especially for fine parchment, but more accurately refers to parchment made from calf skin. The words "vellum" and "veal" come from Latin vitulus = "calf" or its diminutive vitellus. In the Middle Ages calfskin and sheepskin were the commonest materials for making parchment in England and France, and goatskin was the commoner material in Italy.

During the 7th through the 9th centuries, many earlier parchment manuscripts were scrubbed and scoured to be ready for rewriting. These "recycled" parchments are called palimpsests. Later, more thorough techniques of scouring the surface irretrievably lost the earlier text.

The radiocarbon dating techniques that are used on papyrus can be applied to parchment as well.


Cooking parchment

Cooking parchment (also parchment paper, kitchen parchment, and cooking paper) refers to a form of silicone-impregnated paper used as a substitute for parchment in cooking. The silicone renders it grease- and moisture-resistant as well as relatively heat-resistant. A common use is to eliminate the need to grease cookie sheets and the like allowing very rapid turn-around of batches of cookies in a commercial bakery. It can also be folded to make moisture-proof packages in which food items are cooked or steamed.

See also

External link

Further reading

  • Dougherty, Raymond P., 1928." Writing upon parchment and papyrus among the Babylonians and the Assyrians," in JAOS 48, pp 109135.
  • Ryder, Michael L., 1964. Parchment: its history, manufacture and composition.

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