The first man-made writing material was papyrus, made from the papyrus plant. Papyrus was invented about 2000 B.C. by the Egyptians. For about 2,5tD years or more, it was the only writing material used by man. Papyrus is a reedlike plant belonging to the family of sedges. It grows to a height of from 1 to 3 meters. The stems are soft and sometimes as large as a man’s wrist. At the tops of these stems are drooping, slender branches, like shaggy, coarse hair. The leaves are small and the roots as strong.
The Roman historian has left a description of how the ancient papyrus was made. The stems of the papyrus plant were peeled apart and flattened. The center one was the broadest and most valuable.
These strips were laid side by side. Across them, at right angles, other strips were placed. The layers were glued together by the muddy water of the Nile or with a wheat-flour paste. The sheets thus formed were then hammered or rolled flat and dried in the sun.
At one time, papyrus writing material was one of Egypt’s chief articles of commerce. All diplomatic papers for centuries were written on papyrus, until parchment took its place. Each piece was marked with a statop to prove its value.
Baskets were also woven from the slender stalks of the papyrus plant. From its thicker stalks, masts and sails were made. Its pith, when boiled, furnished food for the poor, and when dried was used for fuel. So you can see how useful this plant was in ancient times.
Who First Used Papyrus?
Papyrus is first known to have been used in Egypt.