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The Main Types of Script


Texts were copied by scribes either across the whole sheet or in two columns (particularly if the sheets were large). It is customary to divide the script into three types—uncial, which had large, rounded letters that were not joined; various forms of semi-uncial, which was faster and less strict, occasionally sloping, but still retained the clarity and separate writing of each letter (this type appeared at the end of the fourteenth century); and, finally, cursive, in which the letters were joined, enabling the scribe to write more quickly.

Apart from these main types there were many intermediate ones: the semi-uncial verging on the cursive; the calligraphic semi-uncial in which, incidentally, the volumes of the sixteenth- century Illustrated Chronicle are written, the interesting cursive script of the birch-bark documents found in Novgorod and other Old Russian towns, and so on.