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Erkat’agir is the name used to designate the Armenian uncial script. This is a grand and majestic script, which reminds of the uncial script of the earliest Latin codices (this latter in use between the third and the ninth centuries).
The meaning and origin of the word erkat’agir is somewhat unclear. Erkat’agir is technically a compound, formed by the words erkat’ (‘iron’) and gir (‘writing’ or ‘letters’). Although among the specialists there is no unanimous agreement, the word ‘iron’ could perhaps refer to a writing tool made of iron that was employed to trace the letters (see Kouymjian 2002).
Until the mid-twelth century, the erkat’agir script is the only type of writing employed for all parchment codices that transmit scriptural texts, i.e. Gospels and/or any other Biblical text (see Kouymjian 2012).
Erkat’agir is found in all early Gospel books and in most lapidary (i.e. ‘on stone) inscription through the tenth century.
SPECIMENS FROM THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY
Kouymjian, D., ‘History of Armenian Paleography’, in: Album of Armenian Paleography, ed. by M. Stone, D. Kouymjian, H. Lehmann (Aarhus, 2002), 5–75 [discussed in greater depth at pages 66–67].
Kouymjian, D., ‘Notes on Armenian Codicology. Part 1: Statistics Based on Surveys of Armenian Manuscripts’, Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies Newsletter, 4 (2012), 18–23 [the author shows that erkat’agir was virtually the only script employed for the parchment codex until the mid-twelfth c., at least for Gospels and Biblical texts].