How Ancient Papyrus Was Made

the papyrus plant

The papyrus plant is a reed that grows in marshy areas around the Nile river. In ancient Egypt, the wild plant was used for a variety of uses, and specially cultivated papyrus, grown on plantations, was used to make the writing material.

The inside of the triangular stalk was cut or peeled into long strips. These strips were then laid out in two layers, one horizontal and one vertical, and pressed and dried to form a papyrus sheet.

The inside of the triangular stalk was cut or peeled into long strips. These strips were then laid out in two layers, one horizontal and one vertical, and pressed and dried to form a papyrus sheet.

Finally, many of these sheets were then joined end-to-end to form a roll. No glue was required; instead, the natural gum of the plant held the sheets together. A roll was usually about one foot in height and could be up to 100 feet in length.

For a look at modern papyrus manufacture in action, check out Papyrus Making 101, an online exhibit featuring a slide show documenting the papyrus making process.

Page maintained by Monica Tsuneishi
Last modified: 03/11/2014