The Golden Ratio

The visual design of the manuscript page was often calculated with great precision. Many leaves in the exhibit reflect one principle of design: the height of the text equals the width of the parchment leaf itself. This leaf reveals another principle. The ratio of the width of the text to the height of the text is 5:8 (or 0.61). Commonly known as the Golden Ratio or Golden Section, it can be found in the base-to-height relationship of the Great Pyramid in Giza of 2600 B.C., the exterior dimensions of the 438 B.C. Parthenon in Athens, and many other architectural and artistic constructions. The ratio is also replicated in nature – the sequence of bone lengths from your fingertips to your shoulders replicates it, for example. The rectangles in the leaf conform to the ratio, and in the process reveal how carefully the proportions of visual design were arranged.

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