Introduction

1. What is Palaeography?

Literally, Palaeography means ancient (from Greek 'palaeo') writing (from Greek 'graphos'). Therefore, it refers to the study ancient and medieval handwriting, using as sources for this any surviving texts found in papyrus, parchment or paper from a given chronological period. Its main aims are to read ancient documents so as to be able to assign them a historical date and place of origin. In order to do this, the palaeographer must:

  • have a good knowledge of the language in which the document is written
  • be familiar with the writing materials used during the chronological period under study
  • be able to identify the different handwriting styles used (as well as to assign them a date and place of origin)
  • recognise the abbreviations used
  • establish individual scribes