Palaeography is the study of the history and development of writing. It not only focuses on the written characters themselves, but also includes, the materials and instruments used in writing, the procedures of the scribe in the practice of his craft, and the form and arrangement of manuscripts and written documents. Somewhat illogically, inscriptions (on stone, etc.) are not included in this dicipline. They are the main focus of epigraphy.
Ancient handwriting changed over time. Therefore an aquaintance with individual languages and the different styles of handwriting employed during successive centuries or periods furnishes the criteria to establish a reasonable approximation of date and determine the genuinness of a document.