[texhax] Parchment layout

Pierre MacKay pierre.mackay at comcast.net
Wed Jun 22 13:28:48 CEST 2011

On 06/22/2011 03:52 AM, James Quirk wrote:
> On Wed, 22 Jun 2011, Susan Dittmar wrote:
>> Here's a version for LaTeX. I used pdflatex to process that. Unfortunately
>> acroread (9.3.2, on a linux box) does not show the text then. I guess the
>> page is too long for that. But it's there, as gv (a ghostview clone) shows.
> Appendix C of the PDF reference states that the maximum pageheight is
> 200in and \maxdimen weighs in at around 226.7in; hence the missing text.
> With Adobe Reader it is possible to obtain an outsize display of around
> 700in by using annotations that lie off the page, but said annotations
> won't be visible by other viewers and so the approach is non portable.
It is worth remembering that the scroll format is really not for 
parchment, which is limited by the size of your sheepskin.  Even the 
finest vellum is a bit too crisp and bulky for a scroll, and it doesn't 
glue into serious lengths all that well. That is one of several reasons 
for the switch to codex format. Scrolls were usually made of papyrus, 
and it was glued together by the natural juices of the plant stem.  It's 
pretty good glue, but not infinitely strong, and its limitations 
probably kept the scroll from getting too long.

The best available measure of scroll length would be mummy wrappings, of 
the sort that were created by slicing up a scroll like a jelly-roll.  
(That is why papyrology so often has to publish endless columns of 
incomplete lines of text.  The rest of the text is quite likely to have 
been used on a different mummy entirely, so that matching up line 
fragments is really frustrating and a success can be really exciting.)

Pierre MacKay

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