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Cyperus papyrus: Use in ancient Egypt

In the time of the pharaohs, large quantities of the sedge Cyperus papyrus grew along the banks of the Nile River. The ancient Egyptians used them to build reed boats, as well as to make papyrus. This proto-paper is easy to make. The outer layer of the long stem is removed, revealing a white, air-filled, sponge-like pith. This pith is soaked in water for several days, then cut into strips, beaten, and rolled flat. While still wet, the strips are arranged crosswise in two layers, pressed flat, and dried. The pulp contains starch that glues the layers together.

The earliest papyri date from the third century B.C., and their usage continued through Roman times. The term “papyrus” was later used to refer to another writing material, our modern paper. But that’s another story …



Audio file download
Cyperus papyrus: Use in ancient Egypt (MP3, 407 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg