One thing I have learned about the terminology of ancient books is that the term "scroll" applies only to biblical texts, whereas all other texts receive the term "roll". <br /><br />The roll was held in both hands and read from left to right, not top to bottom, so the text had the appearance of a bunch of pages arranged side by side, and as you read, you would unroll the next page from one side and roll the page you were reading into the other. The books were not held or read with one hand above the other.<br /><br />Now the book in roll form was a pretty impractical thing. Imagine having to flip to the back of that to consult the glossary for instance.
People had to read a book and keep it all in their heads because it was too difficult to go back to check something later. Eventually this problem is resolved by unrolling the book and cutting the roll between each of the columns of text. All these loose sheets were then bound into something calld a codex
, which is the direct ancestor of our books. <br /><br />I think, but I am not entirely certain of this, that those funny numbers refer to each of the columns of text that were originally pages in the codices (pl. of codex), however, you also see a different set of numbers that indicate the different chapter headings or new paragraphs in the text, as each page in the codex from the cutting of the papyrus roll into does not necessarily correspond to one section of the work.<br /><br />The expert on this is William A. Johnson at the University of Cincinnati. Among other things, he is a scholar of reading and of the book culture in the ancient world. He was working on a book and I think it will be coming out soon, if it has not already been published. You can also find information on this stuff in a book called Scribes and Scholars
, now in the 3rd edition.<br /><br />This is a fascinating topic. Johnson published an award winning article a few years ago that will bring you up to date on the scholarship going on in this field. You can find it in the American Journal of Philology (APA) Winter 2000, volume 121, Number 4, pp. 593-627. I can't wait until his book comes out.<br /><br />I should check with him to see if the information I gave in this message is correct. He will probably blush and deny being the leading expert, but it's because he's modest.
Hopefully he will be willing to post some notes for us.<br /><br />take care,<br /><br />Sebastian