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TLDR: Parchment is a writing material made from animal skins, like sheep, calves, and goats. It has been used for over 2,000 years and is a finer quality than vellum, which is made from the skins of young animals. Parchment was developed as a substitute for papyrus, which was becoming less available. It has several advantages over papyrus, including a smoother writing surface and greater durability. Today, the term "parchment" is often used to refer to any animal skin that has been scraped or dried under tension.

Parchment gets its name from the Greek city of Pergamum, where it was supposedly first developed around the 2nd century BCE. It was created as a replacement for papyrus, which was becoming harder to find. Parchment was more readily available and had practical advantages like a smoother writing surface and greater durability. It was also more resistant to mishandling.

There is a distinction between parchment and vellum, with vellum being a finer quality made from the skins of young animals. However, the terms have become blurred over time, and it can be difficult to determine the precise animal origin of a skin without scientific analysis. In practice, the terms parchment and vellum are often used interchangeably.

Parchment has a long history and was widely used during the medieval period. However, with the advent of printing and the availability of cheaper paper, parchment fell out of favor for most uses. Today, it is still used for certain religious purposes, like Torah scrolls, and has seen a revival among artists who appreciate its unique qualities.

The process of making parchment involves several steps. First, the animal hide is soaked in water to remove blood and grime. Then, it is treated with a dehairing liquor, which can include lime or other substances. After soaking, the skin is stretched on a frame and scraped to remove any remaining hair and achieve the desired thickness. Various treatments can be applied to the parchment to make it smoother, whiter, or more suitable for writing.

Parchment has also been used as a term to refer to certificates presented at graduation ceremonies, although modern documents are usually printed on paper. There is also a plant-based parchment made by treating paper with sulfuric acid, which gives it resistance to grease and a semi-translucent appearance.

Parchment craft is an art form that originated in Europe during the 15th or 16th century. It involves various techniques like tracing, embossing, perforating, and coloring to create intricate designs. Parchment craft can be found in handmade cards, scrapbook embellishments, bookmarks, and other decorative items.

DNA analysis has also been used to study medieval parchment manuscripts and determine their origin. By analyzing the DNA of the animal skins used to make the parchment, researchers can gain insights into the history and provenance of these ancient documents.

So, in summary, parchment is a writing material made from animal skins that has been used for thousands of years. It has several advantages over other materials and has played a significant role in the history of writing and bookmaking. Today, it is still used for certain religious purposes and has seen a revival among artists.

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Note: This content was algorithmically generated using an AI/LLM trained-on and with access to Wikipedia as a knowledge source. Wikipedia content may be subject to the CC BY-SA license.