Palaeography (Gr. παλαιός, old, and γραφή, writing), the science of ancient writings. It comprehends not merely the art of reading them, but such a critical knowledge of all their circumstances as will serve to determine their age, if they happen to be undated, and their genuineness, in the absence of any formal authentication. For these purposes, the paleographer needs to be acquainted with the various substances, such as bark, leaves, skins, paper, etc., which have been used for writing; with the various manners of writing which have prevailed, and the changes which they have undergone; with the various forms of authenticating writings, such as seals, signets, cachets, signatures, superscriptions, subscriptions, attestations, etc., which have been employed at different times; with the various phases through which the grammar, vocabulary, and orthography of the language of the writing with which he is dealing, has passed; and with more or less, as the case may be, of the history, laws, institutions, literature, and art of the age and country to which the writing professes to belong. Paleography may be said to have been founded by the learned French Benedictine, Jean Mabillon, whose De Re. Diplomatica, first published in 1681 in 1 vol. fol., reprinted in 1709, and again in 1789, in 2 vols. fol., is still, perhaps, the most masterly work on the subject. Along with the Nouveau Traite de Diplomatie (Par. 1750-1765, 6 vols. 4to) of the Benedictines of St. Maur, and the Elements de Paleographie (Par. 1838, 2 vols. 4to) by M. Natalis de Wailly, it is the great authority for French paleography. English paleography is perhaps less favorably represented in Astle's Origin and Progress of Writing (Lond. 1803), that Scottish paleography in Anderson's and Ruddiman's Diplomata Scotire (Edinb. 1739). Muratori treats of Italian paleography in the third volume of his great work, the Antiquitates Italicce Medii Evi; and among later works on the same subject may be mentioned the Diplomatica Pontificia (Rome, 1841) of Marino Marini. The palseography of Greece is illustrated in the Palctographia Grceca (Par. 1708) of Montfaucon. Spanish palseography may be studied in the Biblioteca de la Polygraphia Espaiola (Mad. 1738) of Don C. Rodriguez. Of works on German palaeography, it may be enough to name Eckard's Introductio in Rem Diplomaticam (Jen. 1742); Heumann's Commentarii. de Re Diplomatica (Norimb. 1745); Walther's Lexicon Diplomaticum (Gott. 1745); and Kopp's Palceographia. Citica (Mannh. 1817). Hebrew palaeography has been elaborated by Gesenius in his Geschichte der HebrSischen Sprache sund Schrift, and other works. See Deutsch, Literary Remains, p. 153 sq. The great work on paleography generally one of the most sumptuous works of its class ever published is the Paleographie Universelle (Par. 1839-1845, in 5 vols. fol.) of M. J. B. Silvestre. SEE PALIMPSEST, SEE WRITING.

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