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orion Dimensions of Writing Surfaces and Areas

In the spirit of "divide and clarify," I'd like to pursue the question of
scribal conventions regarding the sizes of MSS and writing areas. I'm sure
I'm missing something significant in Rochelle Altman's postings on this
matter, but I can't figure out exactly what it is. In hopes of ultimately
advancing the discussion of DSS materials, I offer the following hasty
observations on a somewhat later period of scribal activity. 

Rochelle wrote, in part: 
> Another example: There were two classes of law codes in antiquity:
> public and archival. Public law codes appeared on large stelae
> (Hammurabi's is nearly 8 feet high). Archival law codes were on
> clay tablets that average 8-9" wide by 14-15" high. When scrolls
> came into use, we find that the reading area of an open scroll is
> 8-9" in width by the correct height for a class of document. If we
> look at the Paleo-Hebraic Leviticus, the scroll is about 21-1/2
> inches in height with generous margins. The reading area is roughly
> 14" high. These sizes did not change with the shift to the codex.
> In the North African-Semitic tradition the reading area remains
> 8-9" in width (two scroll columns wide) and 14" in height for THE
> law (aka, the Pentateuch). This same size tradition was used in AS
> England.
> 5000 years later, a modern legal pad is 8-1/2" wide by 14" in height.

I have some knowledge of early "codicology," based on such useful
compilations of detail as the late Eric Turner's <t>The Typology of the
Early Codex</> (UPenn 1977). Turner gives lots of information for hundreds
of papyri and parchment codices from the first few centuries of the common
era, including various convenient "Tables." (See the final Table 16 for a
gigantic overview, including dates, format, dimensions of writing area as
well as of page sizes.)  At the outset, in "Table 1," Turner groups papyri
codices by dimensions and discusses the results -- there are 11 groups
with various subclasses and aberrations. Homer appears in every group
except the 10th and 11th, the "miniatures." Pentateuchal MSS are in
several groups, from #4 (one MS, 19 cm wide x 33 cm high) and #5 (roughly
17-18 cm wide x 25-30 cm high) to #7 (about 14-15 x 20-25) and #8 (about
12-14 x 25-30 -- proportions of width = half the height) and even #9 (14 x
17 -- nearly square in proportions).  The writing areas also vary widely,
including multiple column formats. What are the variables that can explain
these data in the context of predictablilty and adherence to scribal


Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania