Manuscript Laboratory 3 Introduction and Context

        MS Lab 3 will train students to identify binding fragments written in these four major medieval scribal hands that were in common use in England and Europe from the C8 to C16.  "What about manuscript hands used from ancient times through C7?" I hear students ask.  In the extremely unlikely event that modern students ever see a parchment or papyrus manuscript that was not written in one of those four hands, students will be looking at one of the rarest kinds of surviving text on Earth, any scrap of which is probably worth millions to collectors and museums.  It would almost certainly be a sacred text, because writing on parchment (vs. political inscriptions on stone) was rarely used for anything else.  See, for example, the Codex Sinaiticus, a Greek biblical text, one of the earliest to survive, dating to around 350 CE.  (To learn more about Codex Sinaiticus, click here.  The four partner institutions which sponsor this Website [British Library, National Library of Russia, St. Catherine's Monastery, and Leipzig University Library] each hold surviving pieces of the original book that was disbound and dispersed in gatherings over the course of sixteen centuries.  The librarian of the monastery, Father Justin, is from El Paso, Texas.)  Late Medieval English Scribes database link.  Godfrey Lester's MA thesis (U. Sheffield, UK), "Sir John Paston's Grete Book: A Descriptive Index, with Introduction, of British Library MS Lansdowne 285.