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On February 23, 1455, many scholars agree that the Gutenberg Bible was published in Mainz, Germany. The Gutenberg Bible was one of the first books created on a printing press with moveable metal type. (China and Korea had been using the technology for more than a hundred years.) Moveable type consists of blocks of individual letters and symbols that can quickly be arranged and re-arranged to create different words and phrases. The type is then coated with ink and pressed into paper or vellum, an expensive parchment made of animal skin. 
 
The Gutenberg Bible is named after its creator, Johannes Gutenberg. Gutenberg himself invented the wooden printing press, metal types, and oil-based ink used in the new printing process. Historians think Gutenberg printed about 160-180 Bibles in 1455. Today, 48 Gutenberg Bibles survive in whole or in part.
 
Before publication of the Gutenberg Bible, all Western manuscripts had to be hand-copied, which could take years and cost the wages of an entire lifetime. Books were rare and limited to very wealthy individuals, churches or monasteries, or universities. Although Gutenberg Bibles were still relatively rare and expensive, the technology set off the so-called “Gutenberg Revolution,” which made books and knowledge available to almost all literate people.
communication
Noun

sharing of information and ideas.

consist
Verb

to be made of.

culture
Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

literate
Adjective

able to read and write.

manuscript
Noun

written material.

oil
Noun

slippery, greasy liquid that is usually flammable and does not mix with water. Oils can be processed from plants, animal fats, minerals, and man-made substances.

parchment
Noun

carefully prepared skin of goats or other animals used as material on which to write.

politics
Noun

art and science of public policy.

printing press
Noun

machine used for transferring images onto paper or parchment with ink.

publish
Verb

to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.

scholar
Noun

educated person.

technology
Noun

the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

type
Noun

metal block with a letter or symbol engraved on one side, used in printing presses.

vellum
Noun

prepared and treated skin of a calf, young goat, or lamb used as a writing surface.

wage
Noun

money or goods traded for work or service performed.

West
Noun

having to do with the developed nations of Europe and North America.

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