quotes from the British Library that should really make you question Sinaiticus as 4th century - parchment "science" changes for Sinaiticus

Steven Avery

There are more of these, and the essentially "spill the beans" in a cautious manner.

despite being over 1600 years old, the pages of Codex Sinaiticus held at the British Library consisted of a supple, high quality parchment ... most of the folios appeared to have survived the rigours of 16 centuries with an unexpected lack of damage

Parchment Assessment of the Codex Sinaiticus
Gavin Moorhead

despite being over 1600 years old, the pages of Codex Sinaiticus held at the British Library consisted of a supple, high quality parchment in relatively good condition. This is difficult to put into context as the only other similar surviving 4th/5th Century parchment codices, Codex Alexandrinus[19] and Codex Vaticanus[20] are at this stage unable to be physically compared with Codex Sinaiticus. Certainly the Codex Alexandrinus is also affected by ink corrosion but all have had different histories and conditions affecting their parchment folios and ultimately the data collected by this condition assessment will enable comparisons to be made in future.

Apart from a small percentage of folios with heavy ink corrosion, most of the folios appeared to have survived the rigours of 16 centuries with an unexpected lack of damage, suffering in the main only from small tears and losses along the head, tail, fore-edge and spine folds. Much of this damage is more likely attributable to mechanical damage than physical deterioration. Clues to explain the relatively small amount of ink corrosion and brittleness may be found in the ink recipe. But equally, explanations for the minimal damage and good condition may lie in the secrets of the parchment makers. The current condition of the parchment may also be due to the environmental conditions the codex has experienced throughout its existence.

Other quotes will deal with the lack of ink acid deterioration of the parchment. That can also be seen in our Palaeographic Puzzles are where ink from 1850 looks the same as ancient ink.
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Steven Avery

Sinaiticus as the exemplar of the wonders of parchment

"The Codex Sinaiticus is a fourth-century vellum bible now in the British Library, and its pages are flexible and can still be turned easily."

Daniel Carpenter
Heritage Crafts Association

Sinaiticus can be a "showcase" example of the longevity of parchment (also iron gall ink, without deterioration).

The dynamic is a bit humorous, but at least Daniel spoke the truth about its condition. Has he turned the pages? We will try to ask.


Much as we love the parchment industry, it is a bit sad that a falsely dated manuscript is used as the exemplar of the wonders of parchment.

Record Copies of Acts
Mr. Gray - 20 April 2016

The Codex Sinaiticus in the British Library was commissioned by the Emperor Constantine in 350 AD. We can look at it today and turn its pages; it is exactly as it was when it was written, and it is as clear as anything. Can one imagine a piece of paper from 350 AD surviving?

Vellum and Acts of Parliament
Patricia Lovett

There are three main points about paper and vellum and then one about the craft:


Vellum lasts. We have vellum documents that are over 2,000 years old, and whole books from around 350 AD (see right: Codex Sinaiticus in the British Library) which can still be consulted and used, pages turned etc.
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Steven Avery

the example of parchment longevity and lack of wear is always Sinaiticus

The main example is always Sinaiticus

Parchment production from antiquity to early mediaeval times

In late antiquity and early mediaeval times, parchment craft was at it´s highest. It was in this context, that the „Codex Sinaiticus“ – a copy of the New Testament – was written in the fourth century. This masterpiece of parchment art survived until today and has been kept in the library of the Leipzig university (Germany). Since book spreads have not been made from a single skin – as it qould be the usual procedure – more than 700 animals have been slaughtered to produce the 326 spreads of the book. Most remarkably, the very even strenght of the pages reflects the high level of craftmansship. The ability to make thin and even parchment was the aim of every parchment maker. The pages of the book measure 0,1 to 0,2mm in thickness. The pages are from calf skins. Since the parchment of the „Codex Sinaiticus“ is almost free of thicks, scars and bruisings, one can assume, that the animals have been kept in special conditions. The goats of the monastery clearly had a better life than their secular comrades.

Then a brief reference to the Gregorian Editions of Pope Gregory the Great's Regula pastoralis in Troyes MS 504,

Pastoral Care (Troyes, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS 504)

At Yale University

Which looks nothing like Sinaiticus.

You can see nicely coloured yellow parchment in this video

Phillip Pirages - Vellum Through the Ages
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