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Papyrus has a life of at most a century or two in relatively moist Italian or Greek conditions; only those works copied onto parchment, usually after the general conversion to Christianity, have survived, and by no means all of those. In China, and later other parts of East Asia, woodblock printing was used for books from about the 7th century.
The earliest dated example is the Diamond Sutra of 868.
Inside the letter is a picture of a master in cathedra expounding on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates. Inside the letter is a picture of a master on bench pointing at a raised flask while lecturing on the "Book on urines" of Theophilus. On its very bottom is an illuminated letter "U" - initial of "Urina ergo est colamentum sanguinis" (Urine is the filtrate of the blood).
Initial "V" rendered as "U" of "Vita brevis, ars vero longa", or "Life is short, but the art is long". Inside the letter is a picture of a master holding up a flask while explaining the diagnostic significance of urine to a student or a patient. Ironically, the manuscripts that were being most carefully preserved in the libraries of antiquity are virtually all lost.
In Southeast Asia, in the first millennium, documents of sufficiently great importance were inscribed on soft metallic sheets such as copperplate, softened by refiner's fire and inscribed with a metal stylus.
In the Philippines, for example, as early as 900AD, specimen documents were not inscribed by stylus, but were punched much like the style of today's dot-matrix printers.
The second s is not simply the plural; by an old convention, it doubles the last letter of the abbreviation to express the plural, just as pp. Before the invention of woodblock printing in China or by moveable type in a printing press in Europe, all written documents had to be both produced and reproduced by hand.
Historically, manuscripts were produced in form of scrolls (volume in Latin) or books (codex, plural codices).
Because of the likelihood of errors being introduced each time a manuscript was copied, the filiation of different versions of the same text is a fundamental part of the study and criticism of all texts that have been transmitted in manuscript.When Greek or Latin works were published, numerous professional copies were made simultaneously by scribes in a scriptorium, each making a single copy from an original that was declaimed aloud.The oldest written manuscripts have been preserved by the perfect dryness of their Middle Eastern resting places, whether placed within sarcophagi in Egyptian tombs, or reused as mummy-wrappings, discarded in the middens of Oxyrhynchus or secreted for safe-keeping in jars and buried (Nag Hammadi library) or stored in dry caves (Dead Sea scrolls).This type of document was rare compared to the usual leaves and bamboo staves that were inscribed.However, neither the leaves nor paper were as durable as the metal document in the hot, humid climate.