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The split skin of an animal, usually a sheep or goat, scraped and prepared for use as a writing or painting surface, and in book binding. Not as fine as vellum. Also refers to a document on parchment, such as a manuscript or diploma.
Parchment was first used in ancient times at Pergamum as a substitute for papyrus. During the Middle Ages, the pages of hand-copied books were made of parchment. Modern paper, which was invented in China, did not come into widespread use until the invention of the printing press in Europe during the late fifteenth century.