The room in which copyists transcribed manuscripts (later, also the writing school that developed around it). An archdeacon instructed the scribes, who carried out their work in the scriptorium. The alphabet was taught both in the business hand (cursive) and in the book script (uncial). On the evidence of literary reports (Athanasius Apology to Constantius, 4), there must have been a large scriptorium at Alexandria.
Here, among other things, many Bibles were transcribed for Christian communities in Italy, by order of Emperor Constans. Although most of the manuscripts written in the scriptoria have not survived, the existence of scriptoria can be deduced from the colophons of extant manuscripts. On the evidence of surviving colophons, we know that scriptoria were especially numerous in the monasteries of Upper Egypt (Isna, Thebes, Atrib), in the Fayyum, and in the monastery of Saint Anthony (DAYR ANBA ANTUNIYUS). In the monasteries of the Wadi al-Natrun manuscripts were copied in the library or in the great hall of the keep (Evelyn-White, 1926, Vol. 1, p. xlv).
(See also: Libraries.)
- Crum, W. E. Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the British Museum. London, 1905.
- Crum, W. E., and H. E. Winlock. The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, Vol. 1. New York, 1926.
- Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi ‘n Natrun, Vol. 1, New Coptic Texts from the Monastery of Saint Macarius. New York, 1926.