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Re: [BKARTS] coptic question and book history



    There is no need to repeat information already supplied by others on the
subject of papyrus vs. vellum and the origins of the codex, but it seems to me
that the questions of terminology Emly raised were lost in the shuffle.  Link
stitch is not the same as coptic stitch, and neither is identical with the
particular stitching pattern traditional to Ethiopia, though it is a type of
coptic binding.  There has never been a standard vocabulary for bookbinding, so
it stands to reason that such confusions arise when one undertakes a discussion
of binding structures.   Islamic bindings, I believe, use a link stitch, but not
one of the coptic stitches.    As I understand it, coptic stitches use separate
threads in pairs or sets of sewing stations, while most link stitches use one
thread throughout.  This is a generalization, and I offer it (and the following
observations) as subject for comment rather than divine fiat.
    The technical discussion of  book structures is essential to dispell such
errant popular notions as the predication of the structure of the codex on that
of the wax tablet. (As some on the list have already pointed out, however, the
advantages of the hinged tablet format are shared by the codex and may have
fostered its popularity.)   As Clarkson and any number of other binders have
pointed out, patiently but to little avail, there is no evident mechanical
evolutionary path in evidence there.  It does not go scroll, tablet, codex in a
sequential line.  All of these formats were known, and used in the late Antique
period.  They are concommitant, not sequential, likewise papyrus and vellum.  We
should not equate the chance survival of artifactual evidence with a
representative sample of what was in use in the period.  We would also do well
to remember that St. Jerome's compilation of the Vulgate Bible did not come
until ca. 400 AD, so the notion that the Bible somehow fostered the use of the
codex among the early Christian communities has a little problem of about, uh,
300 years.  In the interum the early Christians, like every other literate
citizen of the Roman Empire, read sacred and secular texts as available kicking
around in various formats on papyrus, vellum, wood, ceramic shard and whatever.
   Dorothy Africa

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