A manuscript is any document written by hand, or manually typewritten, as opposed to being mechanically printed or reproduced in some automated way. Before the arrival of printing, all documents and books were manuscripts. Manuscripts are not defined by their contents, which may combine writing with mathematical calculations, maps, explanatory figures or illustrations. Manuscripts may be in book form, scrolls or in codex format. Illuminated manuscripts are enriched with pictures, border decorations, elaborately embossed initial letters or full-page illustrations. Read more ...
Manuscripts 'treated as fossils' from an extinct species BBC - February 27, 2004
A paleontologist has come up with a novel way of studying historical manuscripts, by treating them as fossils from an extinct species. John Cisne, writing in Science magazine, says manuscripts from the Middle Ages have a lot in common with animal populations. For this reason, he claims, he can work out how many copies of a manuscript once existed and how regularly they were destroyed, simply by applying a biological model. Historians have cautiously welcomed this rare link between the arts and sciences. An ancient text can tell a historian fascinating stories about the people and the culture that created it. But there are some secrets that are not written on its pages. For example, it is tricky for historians to work out how prevalent a particular text was, and how many didn't make it through the perils of time.
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