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Pbs Nova - A To Z



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BaronWulfraed

{Hoping this is an acceptable area to post this}

 

For those in range of a PBS station, I hope you caught the second part of Nova's "A to Z" two part series yesterday.

 

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/series/a-to-z/

 

(If you missed it -- it might stream from that link).

 

There were some interesting points... Like papyrus/reed-pen combination allowed for fairly rapid writing, so Rome had a high degree of scrolls available via libraries. But after the empire fell apart, lost ready access to papyrus. Parchment making was slow and costly (equivalent of four large pages per hide), AND required such a slow hand to write that scribes would be lucky to get two pages copied out per day! And the cost of having a scribe spend a year on a book was equivalent to buying a small home.

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I watched it, and found it as interesting as Part 1. I couldn’t help wondering why the Romans never tried growing papyrus closer to home. In Episode 1, the alphabets derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs seemed to evolve toward ease of use and efficiency. This episode suggested the complexity of Arabic/Islamic letters/ writing delayed its ability to be used in mass printing-I wonder why it wasn’t modified sooner, as hieroglyphs were, by others living in the same geographic area? I thought the same thing about the number and complexity of Chinese alphabet/characters/ writing, versus smaller alphabets, in terms of learnability/ usability (apart from the aesthetics of Chinese and Arabic systems). My comments aren't meant as criticisms, but I'm curious why alphabets evolved In different ways, and hopefully the series will delve into this a bit.

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BaronWulfraed

Unfortunately, the write-up implies it was /just/ the two parts... Basically from hieroglyphs to printing press.

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Thanks for the heads up that it is a two parter - we watched the second half (How Writing Changed the World), but didn't realize there was a first half (The First Alphabet).

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