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Re: [GTh] Papyrus

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  • Bob Schacht
    ... What is the current status of understanding about the Qumran scriptorum ? Bob Schacht Northern Arizona University
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 8 10:58 AM
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      At 06:37 AM 2/8/2010, Richard Hubbard wrote:
      ... I think I once read that scribes in the Ancient Mediterranean region worked either kneeling or standing and that tables/and desks were not used.

      What is the current status of understanding about the Qumran "scriptorum"?

      Bob Schacht
      Northern Arizona University

    • Jack Kilmon
      From: Bob Schacht Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 12:58 PM To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [GTh] Papyrus At 06:37 AM 2/8/2010, Richard Hubbard wrote:
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 8 11:48 AM
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        Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 12:58 PM
        Subject: Re: [GTh] Papyrus

        At 06:37 AM 2/8/2010, Richard Hubbard wrote:
        ... I think I once read that scribes in the Ancient Mediterranean region worked either kneeling or standing and that tables/and desks were not used.

        What is the current status of understanding about the Qumran "scriptorum"?

        Bob Schacht
        Northern Arizona University



        The "scriptorium" at Qumran was identified, I think by DeVaux, on the basis of the low plastered benches or tables that apparently fell through from an upper level and the desire to identify Qumran as a "monastery."  I, for one, do not think they were for writing upon.  One test that has never been done, as far as I know is on the plaster surface of those tables.  I believe, as I have stated over the last two decades, that the residents of K. Qumran processed balsam for a living and ties in with Hirschfeld's work.  I once discussed this with Joe Zias and even looked for funding for a project to micro-analyze the plaster on the tables to look either for inks bled through from scribal work or for plant fibers, resins, DNA or biologicals imbedded in the porous plaster. 
         
        If micro Raman spectroscopy, XRF, LIBS or other methods of light spectroscopy identifies balsam, you have placed the Essenes at  Qumran.  If the plaster shows ink bleeds, you have placed the scrolls at  Qumran.  In my opinion, as I told Joe,  It is scientific negligence not to have analyzed the table plaster tops.  They have the equipment at Tel Aviv University for sure...I've seen it.  I would also bet the same for HU.  It just expensive work.
         
        Jack Kilmon
      • Rick Hubbard
        Jack wrote: ... Mediterranean I must have not read this carefully enough the first time through, otherwise I surely have commented at the time it was
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 9 5:42 PM
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          Jack wrote:

          <snip>

          ||Thinking that my own experience in writing texts on papyrus and vellum in
          ||Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek and Latin is not much different than the ancient
          ||scribes that produced those texts from different areas of the
          Mediterranean

          I must have not read this carefully enough the first time through, otherwise
          I surely have commented at the time it was posted.

          If I understand this correctly you actually duplicate the writing process of
          ancient scribes, is that correct?

          If so, maybe you describe the way you do it. Do you work on a flat surface
          (e.g., desk or table) or do you use a lapboard? When you are writing on
          papyrus, do you mark the borders and lines of the writing surface or do find
          it possible to write straight lines without the benefit of guidelines??
          About how long can you write at a single session before developing some sort
          of fatigue or maybe "writer's cramp"? As you tire (if you do at all), have
          you ever been conscious of you writing beginning to change in some
          consistent fashion?

          Sorry for the "third degree" but it's not too often one runs across a modern
          day scribe.

          Rick Hubbard
        • Jack Kilmon
          ... From: Rick Hubbard Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2010 7:42 PM To: Subject: RE: [GTh] Papyrus ... As
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 10 11:44 AM
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            --------------------------------------------------
            From: "Rick Hubbard" <rhubbard@...>
            Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2010 7:42 PM
            To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
            Subject: RE: [GTh] Papyrus

            > Jack wrote:
            >
            > <snip>
            >
            > ||Thinking that my own experience in writing texts on papyrus and vellum
            > in
            > ||Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek and Latin is not much different than the ancient
            > ||scribes that produced those texts from different areas of the
            > Mediterranean
            >
            > I must have not read this carefully enough the first time through,
            > otherwise
            > I surely have commented at the time it was posted.
            >
            > If I understand this correctly you actually duplicate the writing process
            > of
            > ancient scribes, is that correct?

            As much as possible, Rick. I don't make my own papyrus but the ancient
            scribes didn't either. I do, on occasion make my own skin substrate on
            three levels of quality. I harvest, dry and cut my own Phragmites communis
            reeds, or bamboo if doing Chinese, and make my own carbon black or iron gall
            ink. I use traditional ink cakes for Chinese.

            >
            > If so, maybe you describe the way you do it. Do you work on a flat surface
            > (e.g., desk or table) or do you use a lapboard?

            I tried it on a lap board, Rick, if for no better reason than to familiarize
            myself with the challenges of the ancient Egyptian scribe (I am certain this
            was not the practice of Hebrew soferym). I found it almost impossible to
            maintain a steady surface or line but I could take "notes" in Hieratic and
            so I examined papyri of Hieratic from Pharaonic Egypt and noticed that the
            lines were just "eye straight" and sometimes worse. An example is the Prisse
            Papyrus, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Prisse_papyrus.svg. In my
            opinion, the sculptures of sitting scribes with reeds or brushes in hand are
            strictly court "chancery" style for dictation in cursive. I am positive
            exacting work such as "Scrolls of the Dead" using hieroglyphs like the
            Papyrus of Ani with the artwork was not done sitting down cross legged but
            on a chair at a table. In Ancient Israel I am convinced no soferym wrote
            sitting cross legged on the floor. Examination of any of the important
            works among the DSS like the Isaiah Scroll reveal parchment that has been
            cut to exact size, laid flat and ruled and written so that each letter hangs
            perfectly from the rule. That cannot be accomplished on a lap board. For
            simple correspondences and contracts written by scribes for hire among the
            populace, such as the scribal work done for Shymeon Ben Kosiba in Wadi caves
            and in cursive, I am sure some form of portable surface was involved.

            I work, sitting comfortably, on a flat table because I have found that in
            any type of calligraphy comfort is essential and I am positive that was true
            for the ancient scribe.



            > When you are writing on
            > papyrus, do you mark the borders and lines of the writing surface or do
            > find
            > it possible to write straight lines without the benefit of guidelines??

            In the beginning I marked borders and made rules with pencil that I could
            erase after the text was scribed without effecting my script but after a
            while, when I decided I wanted to be more authentic, I realized that there
            were no erasers in the ancient world other than a sharp blade. Again I
            examined papyri from around the Middle East (The Romans liked wooden slats)
            with a particular interest in the important works by the best scribes, P46,
            P66, P75, Thomas, Egerton and so on, and all of the lines were "eye
            straight." Actually doing it sometimes gives you insights not necessarily
            obvious to many papyrologists. The papyrus making process involves laying
            out thinly cut and soaked strips of papyrus pith on a smooth wooden board
            and the strips slightly overlapped first vertically and another layer
            horizontally. Another flattened board is placed on top and heavy weights
            were put on top to press them together to expel the liquid and allow the
            natural gum of the plant to glue the strips together as it dried. I may
            take a crack at making some this summer since a friend grows papyrus. I
            purchase my papyrus sheets from a firm in the Fayum. This process seems to
            result in the first few strips being relatively horizontal and subsequent
            strips, as you go down the sheet, to waver. I use the first strip as my
            rule and go eye straight from there. I wind up with a document that
            resembles the lines of the papyri I mentioned.



            > About how long can you write at a single session before developing some
            > sort
            > of fatigue or maybe "writer's cramp"? As you tire (if you do at all), have
            > you ever been conscious of you writing beginning to change in some
            > consistent fashion?

            I find I can write for about an hour before taking a break to "regain my
            eye." I find I can make the same scribal errors as the ancient such as
            dittography, haplography and homeoteleuton at which times I wonder if the
            ancient scribes cussed also. Yes, if I try to push myself to finish a
            manuscript, I begin to make the aforementioned errors. What tires easiest
            or strains, are the eyes. even more so than the hands, which can cramp of
            course after a while. In that respect, I have something the ancient scribe
            did not, electric lighting and specialized lamps. The ancient scribes only
            had oil lamps. I admit going far enough in my quest to understand the
            ancient scribe as to use an Herodian lamp from my antiquities collection
            with olive oil and a wick. It did not produce enough light for me to write
            anything on a papyrus of which I could just about make out the outlines.
            Apparently all scribal work in the ancient world was done during the day.
            If the scribe was going to be working all day, he must have used a place in
            the east open to the morning light and moved to a place in the west for
            afternoon. He may even have worked on the rooftop on sunny days. As I
            recall, the archaeologists believed the scriptorium at K. Qumran was
            "upstairs." It makes better sense than on a first floor or a basement. My
            favorite place to work is upstairs by the window with the curtains and
            shades open for the natural light.

            >
            > Sorry for the "third degree" but it's not too often one runs across a
            > modern
            > day scribe.

            No problem at all. I hope I answered your questions sufficiently.

            Regards

            Jack Kilmon
            San Antonio, TX


            >
            > Rick Hubbard
            >
            >
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