Home -> Step by step guides -> Organizing and archiving scrolls in ancient rome
- Format of Scroll: Scrolls housed most manuscripts and were created by gluing together sheets of papyrus, a plant-based material. Alternatively, they also used parchment, which is made from animal hide. The information was written on these materials using an ink and stylus and then rolled for storage.
- Concept of Storage: The Romans had special storage spaces for scrolls, known as libraries. Within these libraries, the scrolls were organized in an assortment of ways, either alphabetically or by topic. They were stored horizontally in pigeonhole-like slots.
- Protection Measures: To protect these scrolls, they were often housed within casings made of parchment or leather, called capsae. These cases could be personalized and embellished depending on the status and wealth of the owner.
Now, building on these foundational elements, let’s move on to the detailed, step-by-step guide on how to organize and archive scrolls in ancient Rome.
Step 1: Gathering the Scrolls
Your first task is to gather all the scrolls that need to be organized and archived. Ensure that you handle them with extreme care as these documents are fragile and prone to damage. Use clean hands to reduce the risk of introducing contaminants that might harm the delicate material.
Step 2: Categorisation of Scrolls
Briefly go through the contents of each scroll. Ascertain what topic, author, or subject it pertains to. This will help in effective categorization in the later stages. Normally, scrolls are classified by subject matter or alphabetically by the name of the author.
Step 3: Labelling the Scrolls
Once you’ve categorized each scroll, proceed to label them accordingly. This could be done with a thin strip of papyrus or parchment attached to the scroll and clearly marked with the subject or author’s name.
Step 4: Scroll Case Packaging
Each scroll is then placed snugly in a scroll case or capsa. To safeguard the scrolls from environmental damage, they were slipped into these protective coverings. The labeled strip of parchment with the name is left hanging outside the case for easy identification.
Step 5: Organizing Scrolls on Shelving Units
Now, proceed to arrange these scroll-cased documents onto the scroll rack or ‘armarium’, the shelving unit in Ancient Roman libraries. This should be done as per the earlier established category. The scrolls are stored horizontally in pigeonholes.
Step 6: Documenting the Archive
Finally, you create a scroll directory of all archived scrolls, noting down the details of each manuscript, sorted by category and giving them a specific location code according to the pigeonhole they are stored in. This would aid in easy retrieval and management of the scrolls in the future.
Step 7: Regular Maintenance and Inspection
Lastly, regular inspection of the scrolls is mandatory to prevent any damage due to pests or weather. Any damaged or aging scroll should be copied onto a fresh sheet of papyrus or parchment to keep the knowledge alive.