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Paper

The history of paper started just after the start of the Gregorian calendar.

Paper is derived from the Greek word pápyros, the name for the papyrus plant. This plant grows only on the shore lines of streams in the Middle East, like the river Nile (a river in Africa which flows into the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt). The “paper” from the papyrus plant was first used by the Babylonians and thereafter by the Egyptians (around 3000 B.C.). Also the Greeks and Romans used papyrus, amongst others for contractual obligations.

The “paper” from the papyrus plant was made from the stem of the plant. The outer rind is first stripped off, and the sticky fibrous inner pith is cut lengthwise into thin strips. The strips are then placed side by side on a hard surface with their edges slightly overlapping, and then another layer of strips is laid on top at a right angle. While still moist, the two layers are hammered together, mashing the layers into a single sheet. The moisture or juice from the strips function as adhesive between the layers. The sheet is then dried under pressure.

Paper made out of plant like fibres was invented by the Chinese Cai Lun, who in 2nd century China, mixed textile fibers from the bark of the mulberry in water and produced sheets of paper from that. The invention of paper was one of the reasons of the successes of early China, through easier governing of the country.

Archeological findings have shown that paper was first made from plantlike fibres, were already used from 140 to 87 BC.

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