The city so dominated the trade that a legend later arose which said that parchment had been invented in Pergamon to replace the use of papyrus which had become monopolized by the rival city of Alexandria.
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Parchment is most commonly made of calfskin, sheepskin, or goatskin.
It was historically used for writing documents, notes, or the pages of a book.
Parchment is limed, scraped and dried under tension.
It is not tanned, and is thus different from leather.
This makes it more suitable for writing on, but leaves it very reactive to changes in relative humidity and makes it revert to rawhide if overly wet.
It may be called animal membrane by libraries and museums that wish to avoid distinguishing between "parchment" and the more restricted term "vellum" (see below).
Today the term "parchment" is often used in non-technical contexts to refer to any animal skin, particularly goat, sheep or cow, that has been scraped or dried under tension.
Vellum (from the Old French velin or vellin, and ultimately from the Latin vitulus, meaning a calf) in theory refers exclusively to calfskin, and is used to denote a finer quality of material, the finest being "uterine vellum", taken from a calf foetus.
The term "parchment" originally referred only to the skin of sheep and, occasionally, goats.