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Image:241530 7953 torah.jpg
A scroll of Sefer Torah opened for liturgical use in a synagogue service.

A scroll is a roll of parchment, papyrus, or paper which has been written upon. They were used in ancient civilizations before the codex or bound book was invented in the first century. The way a scroll was read by being unrolled meant scribes were sometimes confused; for example, there are versions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead with repeated sections. Nevertheless, scrolls were more highly regarded than codices until well into Roman times. Codices contained notes, drafts, and records rather than serious literature. For example, early Christians gospels were written in codices, and many readers assumed they were didactic handbooks (New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3rd Edition).

Scrolls are still used today in some religious contexts; in Jewish and many other cultures, a scroll is read with one roll to the left and one roll to the right, and with columns of text running from top to bottom. Quality control of a Jewish Torah is maintained by counting the number of characters, and disposing of the faulty versions, before they can be used.

Some other cultures use scrolls with one roll at the top and one at the bottom, called a hanging scroll, without any obvious division of the text into columns. In some scroll-using cultures painted illustrations ran above the columns of text, either in a continuous band or broken into scenes above either a single or double-column of text. Typically, each end of a scroll is attached to a rod or baton for support and to protect from damage during storage and use.

Scrolls have experienced a revival in the 20th century, as they are now used frequently, in virtual instead of physical sense, in computer software (eg. word processors and web browsers) and television (eg. closing credits). This is known as scrolling.

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See also: parchment, paleography.


de:Schriftrolle he:מגילה nl:Boekrol pl:Zwój sv:Bokrulle


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