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The supports of the writing

In the beginning was the Word. The book did not exist. You will find her a study on the evolution of the supports of writing with this journey, from the clay tablet to the codex, the ancestor of the current book.

Clay tablet, leather, papyrus, stone, wood, linen,
metal, ostraca,
ivory, limestone, seals, terracotta,

Cuneiform writing, pictographic, hieroglyphic, hieratic, pinax, codex, ivory, palimpsest,
scroll, parchment, vellum

The Bible gives no direct proof that Adam wrote, and she makes no allusion to an antediluvian writing. After the confusion of the original language at Babel, various writing systems have emerged; on different media. The study supports the writing reminds us that the greatest civilizations are mortal. The search for a carrier has continued to be a problem. The men first tried to use natural substances, especially wood or clay.
Tablette à écriture précunéiforme   AO 29562

Époque d'Uruk III, fin du IVe millénaire avant J.-C.
Richelieu salle 1a Vitrine 3 : Naissance de l’écriture
Contrat archaïque de vente
de terres
   AO 2753        >
Tablette administrative établissant un montant
de malt et de gruau, substances nécessaires
à la fabrication de la bière et versées en salaire.
En haut, à gauche, apparaît la "signature" de l'administrateur du temple chargé de ce secteur.
Les signes d'écriture ont un aspect très archaïque.
La tablette date probablement de l'époque de Shuruppak (vers 2600 avant J.-C.), mais elle est même plus ancienne. Pour noter les noms propres, les idéogrammes sont utilisés dans sens phonétique.
The first written records we know are the clay tablets from Babylon, dating from the fourth millennium BCE. The use of this material was not however without causing trouble. It was difficult to make patterns on the still soft clay and rounded to distorted drying. So that it became the custom of, not to incise a path, but to print lines and corners with a reed reed. Hence the so-called cuneiform. The direction of writing is changed; instead of succeeding in vertical columns, the characters found themselves aligned from left to right on a line of succession.
Tablette du dieu Enki    
AO 6020
Lamentation sur ruine d’Ur AO 6446  argile  1800 av.n.è
Le juste souffrant    AO  4462 Argile Ép. paléo-babylonienne
Contrat babylonien AO 7672 
argile   550 av.n.è
Formule magique
AO 7682      argile
Lettre Biridiya AO 7098 
terre cuite    1400 av.n.è
Middle Eastern men well knew other media, but the clay tablet seemed to them a guarantee of sustainability. This allowed archaeologists found in soil whole libraries and archives intact. Memorizing instrument, it served happily for business in these areas for millennia, while the consonantal writing on papyrus was required from newcomers country. There is little doubt that the Jews have experienced this type of support. However we do not see in the Bible other than brick remnant where Ezekiel (4: 1, NIV 2010) is "a drawing of a city, Jerusalem." It is also referred to in the Book of Isaiah (8: 1) to a tablet on which the prophet must write the name of his son with a stylus (literally, with a human chisel, a term that suggests that the panel was a stone tablet or clay, Thompson, note c).
Cylindre Gudéa MNB 1511
terre cuite moulée vers -2120
  Prisme F      AO 19939
argile cuite 645 av.n.è
  Liste dynastique AO 7025 
terre cuite    2025 av.n.è
The stone was found early on a stable hardware support often possible to honor the living and the dead. Apart from the particular case of inscriptions on seals and gems, writing on the stone is not part of everyday life and the number of documents and writing is relatively small. A special case is that of the Tables of the Law given by Yahweh to Moses, written "on two tablets of stone." - Exodus 34: 1, NRSV, 2010.

A ostrakon is a pottery shard reused in antiquity as writing material. It designates from oyster shell. The use of ostraca was the result of several ancient civilizations. If this ephemeral media rarely refer directly to major historical facts, however it allows to enter the life of the people of antiquity.
Stèle Mesha     AO5066
basalte     800 av.n.è
Stèle de Si Gabbor   AO 3027 
basalte     VIIè av.n.è
  Stèle de Teima AO 1505
grès    VIè av.n.è
The search for a carrier has continued to be a problem. The men first tried to use natural substances, especially wood. The Chinese character that evokes the book seems to have represented initially bamboo slips and the Latin word liber evokes the notion of wood or bark. But wood hardly takes the impression of the signs. Hence we took the habit to cover the wooden tablets with a layer of wax on which was written with a stylus. However its essentially perishable nature, writing on this support only served to note the interim.

The writing tablets to be commonly used in the time of Jesus Christ. Speaking of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, Evangelist relates that he "asked for a tablet and wrote: 'John is his name'" (Luke 1:63). It was probably a wooden board covered with wax, like the one described here.

Tablette de l'écolier Papnoution

MND 552

IVe siècle après J.-C.
Denon RdC salle 30 vit 2

Tablette d'écolier :
la "satire des métiers"   N 693

18e dynastie, 1550 - 1295 av.n.è
bois stuqué et entoilé
Sully salle 6 vitrine 4
Apart from the individual and small writing on ivory case, we must mention the writing on metal, readily developed among the Romans, especially for official documents, such as decisions of the Senate (see Br 4088, Br 4092) . The Book of Maccabees (8:22) refers to "a copy of a letter that they engraved on bronze tables" or the decree of the assembly in honor of Simon: "They engraved inscription on bronze tables they sealed on stelae at Mount Zion. " - 1 Maccabees 14:26   AA160
Dieu remet à Moïse les tables en pierre MR2619    
Tablette en bronze inscrite Br 4093 Vers 198 n.è
Ivoires d’Hazaël AO 11489     Eclat de poterie inscrit en hiératique E 3260
The usual support written in the Greco-Roman world was undoubtedly the papyrus. Egyptian sources are very discreet about it. The first written records on this medium are not predate the V th Dynasty (2500-2350). The Seated Scribe can be dated to around 2400. The first written papyri were found in the funeral chapel of Neferirkare Pharaoh and dated 2350 av.n.è. Egypt exported early papyrus in all countries of the Mediterranean basin. A report in 1100 av.n.è reported a gift 500 papyrus scrolls to the King of Byblos. Remains to be seen from what date this prestigious widespread support is found outside its country of origin.  AA162   A250

The "Seated Scribe" E 3023

    Cyperus papyrus  
  Lettre de réclamation, papyrus E 27151        
Although I have many things

to write to you,

I do not want to do so

with paper and ink.

2 John 12
While production of papyrus in Egypt remain localized, leather-use will become widespread in many countries, even if the treatment of this raw material is more complicated. There has been manufacturing leather rolls. These scrolls were usually made with sheep skin, goat or calf. The Third and fourth centuries CE appeared a distinction between product quality levels, coarse skin keeping the name of parchment and finer made ​​with the delicate skin of the calf or kid, 

being called vellum;

Latin pergamena, named after the city of Pergamum which was invented or popularized this method of treatment
of skin.

Parchemin inscrit en copte

E 9970
Évangile Luc, 7, 12b-22b.
Écriture onciale de type biblique.
Sully salle 6 vit 3.1
The Romans often used wooden tablets coated with wax to the writings of a temporary nature. Thereafter, these tablets were replaced by sheets of leather or parchment. The Latin word membranae (skins) designated this kind of parchment notes booklet. In 2 Timothy 4:13, the apostle Paul asked Timothy to bring "the scrolls, especially the parchments." In this text, Paul uses the Greek equivalent of the word [membranes]. He did not specify the content of the documents he claimed; however, it is quite possible that he asked for portions of the Hebrew Scriptures in order to study them during his imprisonment in Rome.  AA164
The phrase "especially the parchments" (the leather scrolls) may indicate that there was and papyrus scrolls and scrolls. Commentators believe that asking rolls with the Hebrew Scriptures, in addition, something like notes
or letters.
 When you come,
bring the cloak I left
at Tro′as with Carpus,
and the scrolls, especially
the parchments
Timothy 4:13,
The Israelites used the book as roll up to the time of the Christian congregation. The documents preserved in the former national archives of Israel and Judah, and the inspired writings of the prophets of Jehovah, though sometimes called books, actually arose in the form of rolls (1R 11:41; 2:19 p.m., Jr 36: 4,6,23). In every synagogue, which appeared after the Babylonian exile, we kept the Holy Scriptures rollers, we publicly read every Sabbath (Acts 3:21 p.m.). Jesus read an excerpt of one of those rolls, probably the same kind as the Dead Sea Isaiah Roller (Luke 4: 15-20).

It seems that Christians have used books mainly in rolls at least until the end of the first century CE. In the second century struggle pitted the Codex supporters to those of the roll. If they were not the inventors of leaf book, however, Christians were the first to use it.  AA163

The clay tablet codex, ancestor of the present book

Booklet schoolboy Theodoros
MNE 914
Ap.n.è seventh century
Fayoum, Egypt
Beech wood, wax

Schoolchildren were exercised
on wooden tablets hollowed
covered with wax. The order
of tablets was spotted by
the notches made on edge
tablets that follow.


Parchment Codex E 10612

XIe siècle après J.-C. ?    >
In the second century struggle pitted
the Codex supporters to those of
the roll. If they were not the inventors
of leaf book, however, Christians
have been the first to use it.
  Sarcophagus: educational scene MA 2958 End of the fourth century AD White marble. On the main face, Christ throne, seated center, feet on a low stool. He holds in his hands a book and teaches apostles are seated and hold rolls or books. Denon Ground floor room 30  

Christians, not the inventors of the codex,
but the first to use it


It is the publication of the Bible that has stimulated the development of
the book chart, and it's still the Bible that will boost the invention of printing.

It seems that Christians have used books mainly in rolls at least until the end of thefirst century of n. è. The appearance of the codex, that is to say, either in rolls of book but books written sheets on both sides, is certainly the most important revolution whose book was the subject during our era. The first evidence comes from those encountered six epigrams of Martial (40/130 n.è). And for HJ Martin, "while the traditional public will remain faithful to the elegant volumen, Christians prefer to set their sacred texts and writings of their doctors in the new form, which facilitated their consultation."  AA165, AA166

With the codex, the Bible could become a book. It is the publication of the Bible that has stimulated the development of leaf book, and it is the

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Oriental Antiquities    Oriental Antiquities Departement
Egyptian Antiquities    Egyptian Antiquities Departement
Roman Antiquities    Roman Antiquities Departement