Making the medieval book

For much of the Middle Ages dead cows were the main ingredient for books. What was frolicking in the meadow one month, may have been a page in a Bible the next.

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Illumination of Jewish biblical texts
Illumination of Jewish biblical texts

Dr. Ilana Tahan explores the illumination of Jewish biblical manuscripts, looking at the religious grounds for artistic expression in the Bible, and the differences in styles between manuscripts produced in the Near East and those in Europe

Biblical illumination
Biblical illumination

Dr. Kathleen Doyle introduces the characteristics and evolution of medieval biblical illumination, discussing the various functions of images in biblical texts, together with the use of different materials, calligraphic embellishments and stylistic influences.

Making Manuscripts: The Page
Making Manuscripts: The Page

How did scribes prepare their pages for writing?

The Utrecht Psalter and its influence
The Utrecht Psalter and its influence

Expressive, emotional, and energetic, the Utrecht Psalter is not what you expect in a book written 1200 years ago.

Codex Amiatinus, the oldest complete Latin Bible
Codex Amiatinus, the oldest complete Latin Bible

One of the oldest surviving bibles was made in England but has clear visual ties to traditions from the ancient Mediterranean.

Making manuscripts
Making manuscripts

From scraping skin and cutting quills to painting and bookbinding, making a manuscript is a long, complex process.

An introduction to medieval scripts
An introduction to medieval scripts

Angular or rounded? Medieval script reveals not only what the author wrote, but when and where the book was made.

Listening to the medieval book
Listening to the medieval book

Go on, judge a book by its sound. The thinner the parchment, the higher the pitch—and the price.

A medieval textbook
A medieval textbook

This 1000-year-old math primer is nothing fancy, but it took months for a scribe to make.

Medieval books in leather (and other materials)
Medieval books in leather (and other materials)

Animal skin lent a durable writing surface to medieval scribes. When tanned and tooled, it also protected books.

Clasps: hugging a medieval book
Clasps: hugging a medieval book

Is that a body, or a book? Arms, hands, feet, skulls—all can feature in the anatomy of a medieval manuscript.

Binding the book
Binding the book

Medieval libraries hid a forest in their shelves—wood boards, covered and clasped, protected precious parchment.

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