Papyrus History - The Origin of Papyrus

History of paper goes to the very beginning of the human history, when transfer of knowledge from one generation to another demanded creation of some sort of storage medium that could be easily created, easily manipulated, preserved for a long time without deterioration. First of those paper-based storage mediums was without any doubt papyrus – ancient thick paper-like material that was produced form the extract of the papyrus plan (Cyperus papyrus). Being abundant in the regions of the Southern Suda and delta of Egyptian river Nile, civilizations that lived in that area managed to elevate their ability of information storage, art, and religion with the creation of papyrus paper.


Modern historians are in the agreement that the papyrus originates from the period of fourth millennia BC, where it was extensively used by Egyptians who dedicated lot of their efforts in creation of the high quality papyrus scrolls, which were used not only for writing, but also as a material for building baskets, sandals, mats, mattresses, boats and even rope. With so much versatility, processing of papyrus plant continued through millennia, managing to survive even when competitive paper techniques appeared across Egypt and surrounding territories. This competition came in the form of parchment (animal skin that was prepared to be easily usable for writing and creating of documents, books, codex, manuscripts and notes) and later on Vellium (paper made from calf skin which was used extensively in medieval Europe before arrival of true Chinese paper).

The earliest known example of papyrus documents date from 4500 years ago (found in 2012 in the excavation site of ancient Egyptian harbor Wadi al-Jarf). One thing that enabled large popularity of papyrus in Egypt was not its ability to be used for writing and other purposes, but also because papyrus can only be effectively used in dry environments. Moisture really wreaked havoc on the structure of papyrus paper, which made it unreliable, with only the most premium pieces of papyrus being able to survive longer in moist environment. Even with such disadvantages, papyrus was used for a long time in ancient Greece, Rome and medieval Europe (traditional papal decrees were released on papyrus all until 11th century).

Papyrus Plant

Disappearance of papyrus from Europe, Africa and Asia was finalized with the arrival of the Arab paper (created originally in China), and during middle of 18th century almost all examples of any old medieval or ancient papyrus was gone from Europe. However after that period, archeologist started finding survived copies of thousands year old Egyptian papyrus, and ever since then some form of papyrus remained in production around the world. Even if you want, you can today purchase modern version of papyrus paper!

Vintage Envelope and Paper