02 April 2011

What are they?

Interesting question! What is a Scroll? It is the ancestor of the book, the progenitor of all the books we read, the first expression of collecting information in an organized set of pages.  The Scroll  is written on such a roll as of parchment or papyrus or paper. It is usually written, drawn or painted with the purpose to transmit information but can be also used as a decorative item.

How can I read them?
A scroll is usually divided up into pages, which are sometimes separate sheets of papyrus glued together at the edges, or may be marked divisions of a continuous roll of writing material. The scroll is usually unrolled so that one page is exposed at a time, for writing or reading, with the remaining pages rolled up to the left and right of the visible page. In order to “navigate’ the roll we have to unroll one side and roll the other and by doing this, the visible page will slide and change to the next, according to the direction given, towards the end or towards the beginning.
Some scrolls are simply rolled up pages; others may have wooden rollers on each end. This will help the reading. It is enough to grab the wooden rollers and roll them in the direction we like, to slide the pages and read the scroll.

How are they written?
If you think that the only way of writing is from left side to the right one , as we usually do, you may be surprised! The characteristic of the Arabic languages  is to write from right to left, because of the origin of their language, influenced by the Phoenicians. In fact, the first alphabet ever, written by the Phoenicians, had this letters’ disposition: from right to left. Then the Greek preferred to write in the opposite way, from left to right, and this is the way we write today.
The scrolls therefore are written from right to left, in lines from top to bottom. The first page is the one that we consider the last in our books.
Just for our curiosity, there are other ways of writing: for instance the Korean, the old Egyptian, the  Japanese and the Chinese languages are not only written from right to left but the disposition of the words is not in horizontal lines but in vertical columns, from the top to the bottom. If you find any civilization that use to write in other different ways just add a comment and let me know.

Random Word
There is another thing about the rolls that I want to share with you in this post.
In the Judeo-Christian religion tradition, there is the use, when praying, to open up the book to a random page. A random passage of the gospel, for instance, to begin the day. It is a way to see what is the word that Lord will give us today to guide our steps. With the modern Bible, you just “cut” the book and you have a random page. And with the Scroll? The technique is different, but the result is the same.
We grab the wooden rollers and we roll left and right as much as we like. The exposed page that we will have at the end of our rolling, is the random word for us.


'Scrolls', The freedictionary, Farlex Inc., viewed 2 April 2011,

'Scrolls' 2011, Wikipedia, viewed 2 April 2011,


'A medieval Hebrew Bible scroll containing the Masoretic Text' [image] Classic this lamp, viewed 2 April 2011,


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