was very important to the ancient Egyptians. It helped transform
Egyptian society in many ways. Once the technology of papyrus
making was developed, its method of production was kept secret
allowing the Egyptians to have a monopoly on it. The first use
of papyrus paper is believed to have been 4000 BC.
The raw material of papyrus paper comes from the plant Cyprus
papyrus. This plant grew along the banks of the Nile and
provided the Egyptians with the necessary raw materials. This
plant was quite versatile and was not only used in the
production of paper but it was also used in the manufacture of
boats, rope and baskets. However, the singularly most important
and valuable product was the papyrus paper. Not only was this
ancient Egypt’s greatest export but it revolutionized the way
people kept valuable information. No substitution for papyrus
paper could be found that was as durable and lightweight until
the development of pulped paper by the Arabs. The way of making
pulp paper was far easier to produce but not as durable. This
not only led to a decline in papyrus paper making, but also to a
decline in the papyrus plant cultivation. Eventually, the
papyrus plant disappeared from the area of the Nile, where it
was once the lifeblood for ancient Egypt.
Papyrus making was not revived until around 1969. An Egyptian
scientist named Dr. Hassan Ragab reintroduced the
papyrus plant to Egypt and started a papyrus plantation near
Cairo. He also had to research the method of production. Because
the exact methods for making papyrus paper was such a secret,
the ancient Egyptians left no written records as to the
manufacturing process. Dr. Ragab finally figured out how it was
done, and now papyrus making is back in Egypt after a very long
The Method of Papyrus Paper Production
The stalks of
the papyrus plant are harvested.
Next the green
skin of the stalk is removed and the inner pith is taken out
and cut into long strips. The strips are then pounded and
soaked in water for 3 days until pliable.
The strips are
then cut to the length desired and laid horizontally on a
cotton sheet overlapping about 1 millimeter. Other strips are
laid vertically over the horizontal strips resulting in the
criss-cross pattern in papyrus paper. Another cotton sheet is
placed on top.
The sheet is
put in a press and squeezed together, with the cotton sheets
being replaced until all the moisture is removed.
the strips are pressed together forming a single sheet of
(Original text from
http://www.mnsu.edu/ emuseum/prehistory/e gypt/dailylife/papyrus.html